As close readers of The New York Times will attest, the paper of record has recently thrown itself headlong into what is unquestionably the most pressing social issue of our time: the ever-growing economic disparity between the rich and the super-rich.
In a series of hard-hitting articles, the paper has examined everything from the tyranny of new money on old friendships to the netherworld of executive compensation, to the painful socioeconomic choices being made by people like Denise and Robert Glassman, from his dashed dreams of a Nobel Prize when he abandoned private medical practice for investment banking to the couple’s current heart-wrenching dilemma: whether to abandon the ’hood for a more income-appropriate community, or continue to tough it out in a four-bedroom home on the mean streets of Short Hills, N.J.
The question remains, as it always does for aspirational New Yorkers: Where do I fit in here? Where do I stand in the pecking order? Am I part of the alpha-overlord plutocracy? Or someone destined for outer-borough ignominy?
By answering these 10 simple questions, the answer will quickly become apparent.
1) You’re flying somewhere over the United States when the pilot announces that your destination airport is socked in. Your response is to:
A) Press the flight-attendant call button and see if you can buy another $4 snack box of beef jerky.
B) Fire up the laptop and continue to work on that PowerPoint for tomorrow’s sales conference in Cincinnati.
C) Ask the stewardess for another glass of Champagne, and hit on the movie star in the next seat.
D) Tell the pilot to switch course: You’re spending the night at the house in Telluride.
2) Brooklyn is:
A) My current residence.
B) My nightmare, after we have the second kid.
C) Trendy, right?
D) Someplace that I’m working with Frank Gehry to develop.
3) Which best describes your relationship with your nanny?
A) I am the nanny.
B) Nanny? What nanny? We use daycare.
C) We’re so worried about Conchita writing a tell-all book that we’ve asked her to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
D) We prefer to call her “the governess.”
4) A hip restaurant has just opened in your neighborhood. Your reaction is:
A) I’m still waiting for Drew Nieporent to introduce a line of frozen shrimp scampi at Costco.
B) I’m pissed off at the town cars clogging the block, but waiting for the Times review before we decide to splurge.
C) Sure, it was $1,200 for dinner, but worth every penny. Especially since I took the senior V.P. for ethics compliance and wrote the whole thing off.
D) I’m an investor. Need a table?
5) Which best describes your personal security measures?
A) Bars on the windows.
B) Concealed-carry permit.
C) Frantic phone call to 911.
D) Safe room, armored limo, heat-seeking missiles on the chopper.
6) Disgruntled with the current state of American politics, you decide to make a difference by:
A) Donating $25 to MoveOn.org.
B) Donating $200 to Hillary2008.Org.
C) Giving $2,000 to Barack Obama.
D) Taking your bonus money from Goldman Sachs and buying a governorship.
7) Disgruntled with the current state of The New York Times, you decide to register your unhappiness by:
A) No longer stealing your neighbor’s newspaper every morning.
B) Writing a really scathing letter to the editor.
C) Instructing your P.R. people to compose a withering op-ed piece.
D) Buying up 10 percent of the Class A common stock and launching an unfriendly takeover.
8) Which character do you most resemble in this morning’s op-ed column by Tom Friedman?
A) Mustafa, the Third World cabdriver who picked Tom up at the airport and gave him new insight into the global economy by describing the cell-phone service he’s starting.
B) JimBo, the recently laid-off Detroit autoworker who met Tom at a book-signing and confirmed the latter’s theories about the global economy by describing a new career as a Pilates instructor.
C) Hank Smith III, the C.E.O. who fired JimBo after reading Tom’s latest book and coming to the conclusion that it was the only way to compete in the global economy.
D) Alwaleed bin Adballah, the Saudi royal prince who confided his personal plan for peace in the Middle East as he flew Tom to Gstaad on his private 737– which took place after Mustafa dropped Tom off at the palace, and the prince agreed to invest in the cabdriver’s fledgling cell-phone company.
9) Opining about executive compensation on The Times Op-Ed page, Nick Kristof recently called Barry Diller “the laziest man in America”—to which the IAC/Interactive C.E.O. supposedly replied that the columnist’s ideas were “bird-brainy.” Your reaction to this is:
A) Who’s Nick Kristof?
B) Diller is a rapacious greedhead, and I’ve never been able to find a decent bargain on Travelocity anyway.
C) Diller is a risk-taking visionary who’s worth every penny of his compensation package.
D) I am Barry Diller.
10) And finally, your preferred holiday greeting is:
A) Merry Christmas.
B) Happy Hanukkah.
C) Welcome to St. Bart’s.
D) Welcome aboard! I’ll let Felipe show you to your stateroom.