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Report on the Economy: Does Being Rich Make You an A-Hole? [California Seething]

Everything I need to know about Economics I learned flying First Class last week.

#1: There was one bathroom at the front of the plane for the exclusive use of the 8 First Class passengers sitting in Rows A & B.

#2: There were two bathrooms at the rear of the plane to be shared by the remaining 141 passengers in Rows C – Z.

#3: From my vantage point in seat A1, this was just fine.

From this experience I learned two vital lessons:

#1: Economic inequality is all around us in today’s America

#2: It’s only a problem if you’re poor

Usually, I’m a proud member of the disgruntled poor. Hell, I work in the theatre — we put the “non” in “non-profit”. In my field, the 1% refers to people earning a living wage or the award-winning playwrights that own dishwashers (Albee sold his for gin). After all, if you work in a building named for a rich person you’re a broke motherfucker yourself. So, on a plane, you’d expect to find me jammed in a middle seat in Broke Motherfucker Class (not even Broke Motherfucker Plus) reading a torn Sky Mall Magazine and dreaming of the massage chairs and air purifiers that I’ll never own, and knowing that while the half-bottle of water and micro-bag of pretzels I was allotted by Cheapskate Air isn’t quite enough sustenance to “keep me alive,” it is exactly enough to make me go to the bathroom, which means I’ll have to shake loose the blood clot forming in my leg, machete my way out of my row, and slog to the back of the plane so I can wait with all the other Broke Motherfuckers for my 30 seconds of solitude pooping into the fluorescent blue water of despair.

This time, though, it was different. This time, when my wife and I were checking in online we realized that we aren’t in fact Broke Motherfuckers and we could afford to spring for the First Class Upgrade. This is partially because I’m one of the very lucky few who actually does earn a living in the theatre, partially because we’ve spent our money wisely and haven’t blown it on frivolities like gym memberships and children (not even those really cheap African ones you can buy on TV for one cup of coffee a day — and I mean a regular cup of coffee, not even a Latte — hell, that would buy you a whole fly-swatting family for a month ) but mostly because my wife isn’t a theatre professional and actually works in the real world (did you know that some companies have these things called BONUSES where just they like, just give you extra money for no reason??? It’s crazy right? I mean, sure we have bonuses in theatre, like finding leftover cheese from the Opening in the green room fridge a week later — but free money, I mean, hell, that’s even better than crusty old brie and stale crackers*! (*depends on the crackers- those little melba toast thingy’s are no fucking joke.))

So we took the upgrade and all I can say is that after 23 years, I finally understood just how the East Germans felt when Communism fell. Gone in an instant was the totalitarian airline regime I had known all my life- the cruel grey world of crammed in, overcrowded seating, bread lines for the bathroom, starvation snack rations, and the bitchy sadism of uniformed Stewards whose unique combination of effeminate mannerisms and ruthless efficiency would make them ideal prison guards in a Jonathan Waters film. All of a sudden, there was free champagne everywhere, ample three-course meals, wide comfortable seats for huge Western asses, exclusive bathrooms, service with a smile — and the space??? Are you kidding me?? Here is a picture of my legroom:

I mean, dude, that’s just nuts. That’s 30% more leg room than I have on my couch. I’ve never been able to look down on a plane and actually see the floor and not just my knees crammed together forcing my testes to crawl upwards like purple chubby twins returning to the womb (I call the left one Bumpy. He’s evil)

Of course, as the West Germans would soon learn, if you want human dignity in a capitalist society, you pay through the nose for it. I have to admit, though, considering the wad of snotty dough that we sneezed out for this trip, they could have made the experience even more luxurious. Here are a couple of suggestions for how the airline can make First Class Flying even better:

Child Free Flights

Before she became a crackhead and died, Whitney said children were the future and at least until the robots or the apes take over, I suppose that’s probably right. Still, just because the little bastards are the future by default doesn’t mean I want to share a plane with them in the present. And I know a lot of you parents are gonna want to tell me how offended you all are by this, and how anti-child I am, but just take a quick moment while you’re saddling up your high horse and think — if you didn’t HAVE to fly with your kids — would you really choose to do it? I mean, it’s like listening to Kidz Bop —  there’s no way in a million years that you would ever choose to do that except your precious Disney princess insists on playing it over and over and over again until you just want to drive the Honda Odyssey off a cliff and get some fucking peace and quiet for a change.

But you don’t drive the minivan off a bridge. You put the CD on repeat and listen to that disturbingly mature 10 year old girl singing “Someone Like You” (yes little girls, the boy who pulls your hair will disappoint you just like Daddy) or the creepy children’s choir version of “California Gurls” for the 10,000th time and hope to God that your daughter isn’t learning everything she needs to know about life from the lyrics (don’t worry. She is. Remember when you learned about virginity from Madonna?) You put up with iCarly, Phineas and Ferb, Radio Disney, “stop touching me”, “I’m bored”, “I’m hungry”, “I have to go to the bathroom”, “are we there yet?”, “no-you’re a mermaid!” (don’t ask), and one unbelievably stupid question about the world after another — and why do you do it? I don’t know — because you love them? And that’s great. But the thing is, the rest of us don’t necessarily love them. And I get that you need to schlep your kids around the country on planes to visit all their relatives before they die (relatives not children) or to visit their deadbeat uncles in California who are too cheap and lazy to fly to the East Coast (cough).

I’m just saying that I would consider paying a little bit extra to not have to be on a plane with them people and getting a little peace and quiet when I fly for a change. After all, if anybody is going to be throwing a temper tantrum on the plane and whining non-stop about how hungry they are or how much their ears hurt then I damn well want it to be me. And there’s no crackhead loopy enough to claim that I am the future.

Liquids and Shoes

Look, I don’t care how annoying your kids are, I’m not going to blow up the plane. And even if I knew for sure that Rick Santorum, Tim Tebow and Kobe Bryant were all on the flight along with the entire New England Patriots team I still wouldn’t put a bomb in my shoe or mix up explosives from the liquids on my carry-on. I mean, come on, I can barely make waffles from Bisquik, there’s no way I can make bombs from shampoo. So why can’t I just pay a little extra and skip all the nonsense in the security line? Just imagine — being able to fly again wearing high-top sneakers or cowboy boots; being able to carry huge, full-sized tubes of toothpaste, enormous vats of shampoo, lip gloss, hand lotion, all the deodorant of your wildest dreams; travelling with absolute confidence that you’re not going to be seen naked by ANYBODY unless you sign up for the Mile High Club? Now that’s what I call luxury! And with the extra revenue, the airlines can hire some El Al security guards who actually know what they’re doing and not trust $9/hour TSA “agents” who think that scaring and humiliating an old lady from Peoria, because she has 4oz of cold-cream in her purse is somehow making the world safe for democracy.

Unlimited use of electronic devices

Come on, we all know that my iPod isn’t going to bring down the plane. Neither is the iPad, Kindle, Android, BlackBerry, Gameboy, Giga Pet, Calculator, Epilady or any other consumer electronic device that a passenger could possibly bring onboard, so why can’t the FAA just get the fuck over it and let us live our lives like it’s 2012 and not 1956. And, if they MUST perpetuate this ridiculous ban on electronic devices, than can’t the airlines just let us slip them a few bucks, so that the flight attendants can look the other way. I promise, I won’t say a word to the FAA if you just let me finish my fucking game of Words With Friends or catch up on season 5 of THE WIRE. You’re all going bankrupt anyhow, so I know you need the cash.

In addition to these little improvements, there are some drawbacks to flying First Class:

Everyone on the plane is gonna totally hate you

The problem with sitting right up front and boarding first is that every single one of the 141 passengers not sitting in First Class is going to walk by you as they board and glare at you. You can’t really blame them — Resentment and Self-Righteousness are the only luxuries they’ve got. Still, it’s no fun being hated, or is it? I recommend going on the offensive and making yourself as loathsome as possible like this:

-Dress up like Uncle Moneybags with a tuxedo, top-hat and enormous moustache. You can also rock a monocle and a cane like Mr. Peanut. As long as you’re keeping it classy

-Giggle uncontrollably as you adjust every possible feature of your seat and recline all the way back and forward over and over and over again, or scream out with glee like the pig in the Geico commercial as you automatically elevate your footrest and then put it back down repeatedly. Your call.

-Test out all the massaging features on your seat while you moan like Meg Ryan at Katz’s. Bonus points if you can make your eyes roll upwards into your head in ecstasy. That’ll really piss off the paupers!

-Call over the steward to pull out the Safety Card from the seat back pocket in front of you because you can’t possibly reach it with your seat belt on and the oceans of leg room in front of you. Then call him Jeeves — he has to put up with it — he thinks you’re rich!

-Slug back drink after drink and then exclaim loudly: “Thank god that we have our own bathroom — you don’t buy the free champagne, you RENT it!” Then laugh like a hyena and bitch-slap an orphan.

You’re going to have nothing in common with anybody in First Class

The gentleman sitting in the row next to me (he was a businessman, not a BUSINESS, man) was reading a thick glossy copy of Yachting Magazine. The icy-blond stick-insect sitting next to him was perusing that morning’s Wall St. Journal hot off the presses. Compared to them my little Sports Illustrated was like Street Urchin’s Gazette. So if you do want to feel like you belong in First Class, it’s vital that you bring the right reading material- the Robb Report, Cigar Aficionado, War Profiteer’s Weekly, Scrooge McDuck’s Illustrated Guide to Stuff Worthless Losers Can’t Buy -- whatever it is, just make sure it’s chock full of suggestions for how you can spend the enormous piles of money that are bulging out of your vaults without benefitting humanity in any way whatsoever. And whatever you do, don’t read Sky Mall in First Class. You’ve got to act like you’ve already got everything you could possibly want. After all, if you wanted your air purified, your assistant would pre-breathe it for you.

Yes. Being rich makes you an asshole.

OK, is anybody really surprised that millionaires don’t pay more taxes? I mean, come on, having money is awesome. Why would they choose to have less of it? And you know, if there was a box on my tax forms that said “Hey, you can get all of your tax money back this year and use it to fly first class all year round” – I would check the living shit out of that box and anybody who says they wouldn’t is just a fucking liar. I would check the box, board the plane and rationalize to myself that I was still a good person.

Of course, I’m not nearly rich enough to have the option not to pay taxes because in America the only people who get to keep all their money are those who don’t actually need it. And, yeah, it’s a completely fucked up system and, yeah, those cocksuckers should have to pay their share- but if you want to get money out of them, you’d better be ready to fight like hell for it so that when those plutocrats see you coming they Romney themselves in terror (Don’t know what that means? Google that and Google Santorum while you’re at it. Let’s make the world see just what Frothy and Shit-Boy are made of.)

So- yeah, flying First Class was great- but unfortunately, since I’m stuck giving half my money to the Government, and it’s not really that much to begin with, I’m not going to be able to do it the next time I fly — which means I’ll be crammed in at the back of the plane with all the other Broke Motherfuckers. I can’t wait to see all those bloated rich bastards in First Class as I get on the plane. I’m going to give them the glaring of a lifetime! Seriously, who needs champagne and leg room when you’ve got Self-Righteousness and Resentment? I do. Crap. Now I’m a Broke Motherfucker who thinks like a Rich Asshole (i.e. an American.) Oh well, at least I can still rock the monocle. Mr. Peanut ain’t got nuttin’ on me!

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