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Posted: 26 Feb 2013 | 11:10 am
From time to time we publish letters from our readers on a specific Phuket issue, and island resident Michael Earle has taken the time to talk about values and the rising tide of wealth. Here goes....
"Recently, I attended a charity event in Phuket. I overheard one lady (term used loosely) wondering how the other one had found out about the event, openly implying that the event was too high society for her and she continued with a barrage of degrading comments from there. It got me thinking. How did some people with money in Asia become so entitled and snobbish with little education, charm or personality to sustain their self-belief? People have always searched for new status upon acquiring money and Asia is no different. The question is, has financial self-importance reached new levels in this latest generation of "nouveau riche"? The standard definition of "elite" is the following: An attitude that some individuals form as part of a select group of people with a certain position, intrinsic quality or worth, higher intellect, specialized training or experience. It is implied that their views on a matter are to be taken seriously or carry more weight. Yet today we have people who consider themselves elite without having ANY of those qualities, aside from money. How did this come to be?
The term "stuck up" comes from the description of Englishmen who, feeling they were better than everyone else, would stick their noses up in the air as though not wanting to breathe the same air as mere mortals and snorting to denigrate lesser beings. "Nouveau riche", of course, is an unflattering term describing people who previously had belonged to a lower social class who, with new money, began a pattern of extreme and conspicuous consumption. It described the vulgarity and ostentation of the new-rich man and woman who lacked the worldly experience and the system of values of established society. In many parts of the world, including Asia, social status is defined now almost exclusively by wealth and the power granted by that wealth. Originally, the "nouveau Riche" became juxtaposed against the people of the Old Money social class. Today, in places like China where there is no old money, is there a system to highlight cultural and value systems based on education and respect for others.
In the US, a serious step up in earning power tends to disturb social relationships that you have with friends and coworkers. Bill Harris, CEO of wealth management site Personal Capital explains in his blog that, "when people get a permanent change in their economic status ...they feel like, hey, I've got all this money so they spend it on new homes and cars and whatever else they felt they lacked in their old penny-pinching days, and my old status be damned". Another very popular financial blog, Financial Samurai, listed some things that annoy those left behind: The rich constantly update their Facebook status with pictures of themselves in exotic places, trips they would never been able to afford before. They also repeatedly tell everybody how much money they make. They often wear inappropriate clothing in the work place, including overly ostentatious jewelry. None of these actions are illegal or immoral as it is their cash to spend as they wish. The real friction arises when people who strike it rich don't realize that their peers need to adjust to their old friend's new lifestyle just as rapidly as they do."
A column featuring environmental issues and conservation around the island. Click here for more Green Reports check out the latest story from the leading experts:
A recent Channel News Asia television segment Boomtown Asia checked into the island's environmental, and sustainable tourism sectors.
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