The age of extravagance is over. The lush life—even if you can afford it—is no longer practical without being burned alive by public opinion. Six new rules for the rich to live by:
1. No More Private Jets—Symbolism is everything. A sleek, multimillion-dollar private jet is a pretty big symbol. And here's what it symbolizes: I hate the public. You might respond, "But everyone hates the public!" No matter. Fly first class. It can't be that bad.
2. No More Extravagant Decorating—Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, a master of the universe, was forced to resign because of an expensive commode and a rug. Take a moment to reflect on how embarrassing that is. One of the most powerful men on Wall Street didn't go down swinging, fighting for the last dollars; he shuffled out meekly because of poor interior decorating. Do not make this mistake. No taxpayer or shareholder wants to pay, however indirectly, for your fucking antiques. The truth is that people would rather see the rich in ugly offices, so they suffer a bit at work. IKEA is the new... nice office stuff.
3. No More Super Expensive Apartments—In New York, people won't even hold a $5 million apartment against you. It's an expensive place. And you can get plenty for $5 million. When you start going for $30 million Central Park West duplexes or penthouses in an awful starchitect's latest downtown monstrosity, you're just lording it over people. That's when the pitchforks come out. Try Craigslist.
4. No More Fancy Vacations—Exclusive resorts can die. Try the Bahamas, or France, or, hell, a week riding a motorcycle through Mozambique—just avoid any vacation destination with a name so rarefied that everyone immediately knows it has a four or five-digit daily price tag. America's big. Take a road trip. Historic vacation destinations of the rich are now good for nothing but fostering one-world conspiracy theories.
5. No More Opulent Parties—Ask Blackstone chief Stephen Schwarzman about this one; he's spent the last two years seeking desperately to make up for his ridiculous, star-studded, multimillion-dollar 60th birthday party. Try Chuck E. Cheese next time.
6. No More Bragging About Wall Street Jobs—'I-banker' is a bad word now! In remarkably short order, Wall Street types have seen the grudging envy of the public overtaken by their fundamental class hatred. And now that hatred is real, because you, hedge fund dude, just might be the one who personally killed our 401(k). If you're lucky enough to still have a well-paid finance job, just keep your head down and your mouth shut. Or, you know, quit. It's always an option.