From New York Times Business Reporter Nelson D Schwartz Comes A Gripping Investigation Of How A Virtual Velvet Rope Divides Americans In Every Arena Of Life, Creating A Friction Free Existence For Those With Money On One Side And A Darwinian Struggle For The Middle Class On The Other SideIn Nearly Every Realm Of Daily Life From Health Care To Education, Highways To Home Security There Is An Invisible Velvet Rope That Divides How Americans Live On One Side Of The Rope, For A Price, Red Tape Is Cut, Lines Are Jumped, Appointments Are Secured, And Doors Are Opened On The Other Side, Middle And Working Class Americans Fight To Find An Empty Seat On The Plane, A Place In Line With Their Kids At The Amusement Park, A College Acceptance, Or A Hospital Bed We Are All Aware Of The Gap Between The Rich And Everyone Else, But When We Weren T Looking, Business Innovators Stepped In To Exploit It, Shifting Services Away From The Masses And Finding New Ways To Profit By Serving The Privileged And As Decision Makers And Corporate Leaders Increasingly Live On The Friction Free Side Of The Velvet Rope, They Are Less Inclined To Change Or Even Notice The Obstacles Everyone Else Must Contend With Schwartz S Must Read Book Takes Us On A Behind The Scenes Tour Of This New Reality And Shows The Toll The Velvet Rope Divide Takes On Society The Velvet Rope Economy shows how the ultra wealthy can pay their way past all the inconveniences in their lives and turn every experience into a luxury This includes not having to wait in line at amusement parks, getting box seats at sports games that allow for face time with athletes, retaining doctors on call, donating so much money to an Ivy League school that their children are admitted, and so muchOn the surface, this book seems like a worthwhile read, but it actually left me frust The Velvet Rope Economy shows how the ultra wealthy can pay their way past all the inconveniences in their lives and turn every experience into a luxury This includes not having to wait in line at amusement parks, getting box seats at sports games that allow for face time with athletes, retaining doctors on call, donating so much money to an Ivy League school that their children are admitted, and so muchOn the surface, this book seems like a worthwhile read, but it actually left me frustrated and annoyed, and I m going to try to articulate why.To begin with, this book conflates two completely different things into one Citizens of a first world country are entitled to certain things, such as access to quality health care and opportunities to have an affordable education that will lead to middle class earnings However, people are not entitled to skip lines, nor have access to famous athletes so they can get their ball signed, nor partake in luxurious air travel or cruises Yet this book spends the majority of the time complaining about the latter, and only a portion of it talking about the real issues of the former.In terms of the latter, the author just hasn t convinced me with his argument He s essentially saying that it s bad that people can payto have a better experience than those who pay less, and that worsens the divide between the classes For example, you payto sit in first class on an airplane, which comes withleg room, lounge access, earlier boarding, etc Then the people who have economy seats look with envy at those in first class, which causes the divide between the classes to expand I don t know that seems like many jumps to get to that conclusion But even if true, I m not sure how to process that.There is an implied argument here that I m not sure I agree with, which is that it s wrong for someone to payto getBut that s the basis of any economy If I pay for a business class ticket, of course I expect to getservice and value than if I pay for an economy class ticket Otherwise, customers have no incentive to pay , which then means the airlines would have no incentive to offerAnd if that was the case, the result isn t that every customer would receive first class treatment rather, it s that the airlines would give everyone the economy treatment.Butodious than that, the book also implies that when people payfor something, it s because they are rich or otherwise privileged, and they don t deserve to be so There is a tone of both envy and resentment that permeates this section, and it rubs me the wrong way I think a better question is this is the tiered system of goods what s worsening the class divide or is it that in our inter connected world, where everyone can peer into everyone else s lives, envy becomesof an issue Because in one case, the blame is on the rich In the other case, the blame is on those who feels envious of others for having what they lack But realistically, any one person can never have it all We each have limited resources and must use those up as we see fit For example, people with kids might see value in spending their money to fast track the lines at an amusement park, while older and less mobile people might see value in maid service or having a nurse on call.Unless somehow we do away with human nature or we get rid of internet and TV so that people can t see what the Joneses are up to, envy and jealousy are just part of the norm And everyone will just have to live with the fact that others will have things which they themselves do not have, because they chose to spend their resources on other things.Now we finally get to the part of the book where it addresses the real issues, such as the lack of good health care and quality education for the poor But even here, the book was a disappointment It treats each issue superficially and doesn t get to the root of the problems For example, people with limited means generally have bad or no health insurance because it is tied to their lack of employment Now, people with good private insurance from their employers are free to leave struggling hospitals for better care elsewhere But the book misses the discussion on why this is even an issue to begin with It s because we live in a country where a person s health insurance is based on whatever their employer wants to offer or not, versus in every other industrialized country where health insurance is uniformly provided by the government And the book does not address this crucial point at all.Another example of a miss is around education The book talks about how money for field trips, teacher s aids, sports music classes, etc often comes from parent led fundraisers So in a struggling school district, parents often do not have the means to raise that kind of money But the solution proposed in the book is that the money raised by wealthier districts should partially be given to poorer districts That might work in an idealized world, but in this actual world, I d bet that would be a hard sell And what s not addressed The reason we are even in this predicament is because recent policy changes have diverted money out of education, which then force public officials to go begging to tax payers every time they needmoney to cover the shortfall And unsurprisingly, people hardly ever want to paytaxes on an item by item basis.The book also spends a large amount of time bashing on parents who set their children up for admission into Ivy League schools by making donations, and offering their kids college prep, tutoring, and extracurriculars Sure, that s rather unfair, but harping on it misses other relevant points For example, Ivy League schools are on a level of competitiveness that is unreal They accept like 3% of the students who apply, even though every applicant probably has the academic rigor to succeed So the schools are forced to somehow differentiate between this 4.0 GPA student they accept from these thirty other 4.0 GPA students they reject, and the only way to do so is through standards that have little to do with academic success, such as how well spoken they are, what community service contributions they ve made, and their extracurriculars But Ivy League schools are private, and can accept reject using whatever standards they want The point isn t to force them to accept everybody that would be impossible and counterproductive It s to realize that public schools are where funding should go if we want quality education to be accessible to all But the book also misses the most important point of all when it comes to college education, which is that the school someone gets into is not nearly as important as what major they choose to study In this day and age, certain majors, such as math, science, and engineering, ensure job opportunities, while others make it almost impossible to find jobs, even for an Ivy League graduate.There is so much potential that this book could have explored, yet it focuses so much energy implying that the rich is out to game the system by paying thousands for first class tickets or the ability to cut in line at amusement parks In the flying example, it completely glosses over the fact that air travel is now cheap enough for the masses And to achieve this, airlines essentially had to cut every amenity and pack in as many people as possible Sure, it s uncomfortable, but compared to the alternative of the past when flying was dignified but out of reach for everyone except the wealthiest, that isn t something I would want to change back.I could go on and rebut almost every topic covered in this book, but taking mercy on the kind souls who actually read my reviews, I must stop This book left me irritated and dissatisfied It spent so much time both mooning over and whining about pointless aspirational crap, and missed a real opportunity to address the policy shortfalls in essential services that every citizen should be entitled to By lumping the two completely disparate issues together, the book makes almost no coherent argument The rise of the Velvet Rope Economy marks an end to the great democratization of American life in the post World War II eraWhat is the Velvet Rope The Velvet Rope uses class segregation to help businesses profit Think of the fast pass systems at theme parks that only certain family groups can afford Or the better seats at a sporting event Or even private education Why are businesses profiting from class segregation How did we get here There are several examples for everything this bThe rise of the Velvet Rope Economy marks an end to the great democratization of American life in the post World War II eraWhat is the Velvet Rope The Velvet Rope uses class segregation to help businesses profit Think of the fast pass systems at theme parks that only certain family groups can afford Or the better seats at a sporting event Or even private education Why are businesses profiting from class segregation How did we get here There are several examples for everything this book states You will be familiar with most of them if you have lived in the U.S for most of your life If you have not, this might be a big eye opener Different treatment, benefits, and price discrimination due to socioeconomic status is proven in airline services, theme parks, sporting events, health care, and education to name a few that are used as examples in this bookIt favors the people who have the moneyThe first part of the book is about the super elite that are inside of the Velvet Rope 5% 54% on a Kindle , and the second half is about those outside of the Velvet Rope 54% 83% on a Kindle Exclusivity, social brain hypothesis, soft benefits vs hard benefits, situational inequality, Pareto optimality, and class segregation are used to support the ideology behind the Velvet Rope Economypeople will be left out of the economic system asandinformation accumulatesIt only focuses on the present and what that looks like right now It does explain that we are headed to a caste system but goes no further.This is a well researched book that is accessible to the average reader Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy Opinions are my own Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review I d thought I d start a non fiction book so I wasn t up too late This ended up keeping me up It reads smoothly, transitioning and segueing into different areas without effort I won t say this book didn t trouble mea lot Just this morning we were discussing how Disney has now fallen into this and they are offering VIP seating for the parades, plaid shirt treatment for a price, etc Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review I d thought I d start a non fiction book so I wasn t up too late This ended up keeping me up It reads smoothly, transitioning and segueing into different areas without effort I won t say this book didn t trouble mea lot Just this morning we were discussing how Disney has now fallen into this and they are offering VIP seating for the parades, plaid shirt treatment for a price, etc The book delves into how this came about and how it creeps into areas we wouldn t expect, such as medical care I ll be thinking about this book for some time to come Highly recommended The recent results from a Gallup Poll Jan 2018 showed that 36% Americans are dissatisfied with the ability to get ahead by working hard This should not be a surprise for anyone working today for peanuts while exhausting themselves daily for 10c raises as Top Producers Associate of the Months and whatever other title they wiggle in your face to try to achieve.I know this because like many of you I went from upper middle to extreme poverty now officially locked in to the bottom row.You mig The recent results from a Gallup Poll Jan 2018 showed that 36% Americans are dissatisfied with the ability to get ahead by working hard This should not be a surprise for anyone working today for peanuts while exhausting themselves daily for 10c raises as Top Producers Associate of the Months and whatever other title they wiggle in your face to try to achieve.I know this because like many of you I went from upper middle to extreme poverty now officially locked in to the bottom row.You might ask how Well, divorce, bankruptcy, no child support for over a year living on credit to raise a family of four, legal medical expenses, marital credit debt, student loan debt by way that MPA never used to raise 3 kids with son med disabled for life since birth I mention this once again not for sympathy, not empathy, not compassion as I know that s not the norm today but to show that working hard is a farce as it s a tough competition today with not only the college kids but the low salaries, the stagnant wages, the lack of benefits and cutting hours just below F T yes I see you employers , and the work to death motto that leaves you with nothingthan higher medical bills.How should I know as I worked at a factory as top producer in two departments while being video taped by my bosses to show others how it s done The garbage guy who didn t work off conveyor, allowed to move freely w o question, never begged for toilet breaks or fresh air circulation from dusty fans overhead madethan me working like a nut.I was paid exactly 7.25 hr w 10cent raise with 25 one time bonuses for associate of the month awards.YIPPEEEE I would add that same job pays the same wages from when I worked as a teen now 47 next May Is this the Make America Great Again that they all spoke of so beautifully or are we being soldempty promises and broken dreams ps Malignant Narcissist survivor too So, yes, when I say the welfare to work is to force others into employment w o care or concern for safety or survival I MEAN IT You see while in extreme poverty my son 19 yo now full time college was taken off SSI SSP in March just before graduating high school in May and ironically the same day the welfare to work took effect.Now push forward a few months he then enrolled full time night classes at college 1st yr freshman and he has his food stamps taken awayand they wonder why colleges now have food banks inside of them What the hell is wrong with people You see my family and I were left bankrupt and homeless after divorcing an abusive spouse with an active pfa and violation w his arrest and 3 month probation for enrollment into alcohol and drug and anger management courses.A warrant was issued for his failure to pay and appear for court and child support w 15 k arrears.I had given up career to raise med disabled son w vater syndrome for 19 yrs.I have looked for a job since 2010 separation and 2013 divorce w 3 interviews this after attending job fairs, networking, referrals, cold calls, begging, placing resumes online after updating at undergrad colleges, with linkedin business accounts, etcI was just passed up with my 20 yrs volunteering experience and Points of Light Award for a college girl who was basically on the yearbook staff as a content writer even though I currently work unpaid as a national trade blogger with over 9 major publications producing over 1k reviews yearly at Goodreads NetGalley and having won every award for high reviews and stats.So folks, please do continue with the hard work pays nonsense but it s not what you do it s who you know, how much money you possess, and what your age, race, and other factors like class and credit are in today s world.You see those w o credit can t get jobs, nor housing, nor will landlords rent to those w kids or past abuse histories This is fact You might also not be aware that shelters won t take in women and kids nope just women and they must not be in the facility during the day but seeking work.EBT is not a handout but handup and I know this all too well as I continue to dispose of the myths and misconceptions having had my food insecurities told to every member of Congress in Community Voices.So sure, when those who ve been fed the lies approach me I want to rip their heads off because the stories about welfare recipients and the abuse of the system or the character judgement is so off center and made to be a catch all or nothing response.The facts are when you have welfare providingincome than minimum wage employment than you have yourself a huge problem In Pennsylvania, it s 6.53income if you have to support a family and you can t get paid a living wage to raise a family wouldn t you make the same choice others are now being forced to make Would you think this is milking or survival You tell me.What if you needed benefits because your family member was disabled or suffered other lifelong illnesses or ailments What if I told you employers deliberately pay under 40 hrs to not provide benefits Would you think less of others for seeking benefits to survive Or in my case with spinal stenosis causing leg paralysis, raynaud s phenomenon, severe anemia w dyspnea, vater syndrome, and much, much, .This is reality folks and though the GET A JOB comments are enduring they are not reality for many especially those my age or older who can t get hired from age discrimination.If you think it doesn t exists I ask why would a company wish to hire a LT unemployed homemaker whose overqualified and lacks prior work experience with a family of 4 to support on benefits and flex schedules when they can easily go to greener pastures with a college student that is young and not often seeking such accolades to survive but rather need to get foot in door to start the dreaded loan process or deferment.In fact, you cannot write off those student loans in bankruptcy so good luck with all that debt.The author illustrates a point when he notes, 82% said income inequality is a major problem according to his research from Pew Research Center Oct 2017.In essence, the middle class is being hollowed out every day as we enter a feudal system for the top 1% rather than a sustainable working class capitalist system.If you want the truth I provide this video from my former boss President of Al Beech, a local food bank for which I volunteered Here she puts on full display the myths and misconceptions she herself had which resembled what many now believe and how wrong she was in her own professional wordsinformation about poverty, EBT, food insecurities andplease visit my profile or check out these links and then tell me hard work pays 38 to see my story told by Rose DeLauro D Conn on the topics of LT Unemployment and Extreme Poverty First half is an entertaining anthropological look at how the 1% live The second half is depressing. The Velvet Rope Economy is a shocking expos of our continually splintering economy and value system Schwartz skillfully navigates the playground of the super rich and their long list of premium experiences from VIP amusement park tours and luxury sports arena boxes to better access to hospitals and educational opportunities The real life examples and statistics he reveals invoke a wide range of emotions from bewilderment and envy to anger, disgust, disappointment and even fear As one very sm The Velvet Rope Economy is a shocking expos of our continually splintering economy and value system Schwartz skillfully navigates the playground of the super rich and their long list of premium experiences from VIP amusement park tours and luxury sports arena boxes to better access to hospitals and educational opportunities The real life examples and statistics he reveals invoke a wide range of emotions from bewilderment and envy to anger, disgust, disappointment and even fear As one very small segment of the population keeps piling on wealth, the middle class struggles harder, becomingisolated, excluded and fractured An eye opening wake up call that something needs to be done to stop the class segmentation before it truly divides us all Highly recommend Schwartz is having a mid life crisis Mommy used to buy him candies when he wanted to Than mommy got him to a good school Later mommy helped him get college education so he won t feel stupid when meeting his school friends Mommy used to get him food and clothing And now, as an adult Schwartz notices there are so many things mommy can t get him and that is UNFAIR After all, he is as good as his peers, mommy said. Most of the information in the book you probably already know, such as that if you pay extra you can get personalized guided tours of Disneyland and that one of the reasons airlines make economy class so uncomfortable is to encourage you to pay to upgrade But there were a few things I didn t know such as that public schools now charge students to be on the school teams, and there may even be a charge to try out for a team So one of the ways that a kid used to be able to break out of poverty, e Most of the information in the book you probably already know, such as that if you pay extra you can get personalized guided tours of Disneyland and that one of the reasons airlines make economy class so uncomfortable is to encourage you to pay to upgrade But there were a few things I didn t know such as that public schools now charge students to be on the school teams, and there may even be a charge to try out for a team So one of the ways that a kid used to be able to break out of poverty, even if it was long odds, was to be good at sports and maybe get a college scholarship Now kids from families without extra cash for team fees in high school may be locked out of that opportunity, which seems outrageously unfair Maybe socialism isn t such a bad idea after all Excellent book Interesting account of the velvet rope separating the haves and have nots in the economy While elites get special access to education, sporting events, travel, etc., others face a lack of access in health care, education, shopping and community The author ends the book of suggestions of alternatives to the growing catering to the rich and the possibility of aegalitarian society.
- 352 pages
- The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business
- Nelson D. Schwartz
- 23 June 2019 Nelson D. Schwartz