Amber Waves of Green

Jon Ronson explores income inequality in America by interviewing five people, each one earning five times what the last did. He starts with a Haitian immigrant earning minimum wage as a dishwasher and works his way up to self-made billionaire (and major conservative financier) Wayne Hughes. The scary thing is that he could have kept going. Hughes is “only” worth $1.9 billion.

One of the most interesting things in the article is how jealous Ronson is of the woman who makes five times more than he does.

“I’m at a level where I don’t have to suffer. I’ve been sick. I had cancer. If you have money, you call the guy who knows the guy who’s the head of the department. The truth is, rich people with cancer versus everyone else with cancer? Longer life! And I didn’t think about bills at all! I have a bill? I throw it in the box. And that box goes to my business manager. This is a key item if you have money. You don’t look at the bills. When I got money, I vowed, ‘Never again will I suffer the small stuff.’ To me paying a bill is the small stuff. ‘I don’t care how the fuck it happens; someone pay that fucking thing!’ It’s a good feeling.”

I listen and nod and think, I very much need a business manager. “How much do you pay your business manager?” I ask.

“A very small amount of money,” Ellen says, “$100,000 a year.”

There’s a silence. “That’s a lot,” I say.