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The bear market and economic downturn are taking their toll on San Diego's Beautiful People, reports Margo Schwab, who covers the social scene through "The Social Diary.com." Says Schwab, "Events that always sell out are not. Auction items are less grand, and frankly, some of the rich are wearing the same gown twice! All I have to say is 'Welcome to the real world. Even Princess Diana wore her gowns more than once.'" One prominent socialite, unable to meet the mortgage, asked Margo for a loan. There is "a lot less talk of big trips to Europe. Rentals from the [La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club], always booked with a waiting list at this time, have signs up for vacancies." The recent Jewel Ball did not sell out -- the first time since the early 1990s, in her memory. "Two years ago it was sold out six months in advance. A number of socials are apparently not doing well on the financial front." Finally, "At the resale shop called Encore where Chanel, etc. can be bought, I was told by a salesperson that there is more inventory coming in from people. I have also heard that a lot of people are selling some of their excess jewelry."

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Comments

Anon92107 Aug. 7, 2008 @ 12:16 p.m.

As Eric Idle of Monty Python sings while nailed to the cross "Always look on the bright side of life."

The good news for Nordstroms is that they won't have to take as many returned dresses back the day after they are worn at the Jewel Ball.

And San Deigo's SuperBloodsucker class has a lot more La Jollans to look down upon.

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Don Bauder Aug. 7, 2008 @ 3:22 p.m.

Response to post #1: The last I heard, retailers and manufacturers catering to the superrich were doing fine. This in part reflects the massive shift of wealth and income to the upper 1 percent during the last 25 years. The richest 1 percent now has more than 40 percent of the financial assets. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Aug. 8, 2008 @ 2:31 a.m.

Response to post #2:

Since America now has the most corrupt courts in the history of democracy, as current San Diego economic, political and social decline and fall events continue to prove, SuperBloodsuckers will end up with far more than 40 percent of the financial assets.

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Don Bauder Aug. 8, 2008 @ 6:40 a.m.

Response to post #4: It partly depends on how the 2008 elections go. Also, a note: Margo Schwab was referring to rentals ACROSS from the beach and tennis club. I inadvertently left that word out. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Aug. 8, 2008 @ 7:32 a.m.

Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class talks about invidious distinction being the motivator of conspicuous consumption.

I've wondered, however, if some of the super-rich aren't wise to the risk of appearing to be "too rich", and consequently disquise themselves to walk among the lowly hoi poloi.

As I recall reading somewhere, the ones who actually make the money are just as likely to still be driving an older model car and living in a modest house. It's their offspring that feel compelled to flash around in their status symbols.

In the past, this would accomplish (gradually) the famous regression to the mean, so the grandkids of the rich would end up just middle-class.

But a few decades back, some smart lawyers started devising means for avoiding the avarice of offspring and ensuring the maintenance of any private wealth pool for ages to come.

I wonder if the collapse of hedge funds and other exotic investment instruments won't prove to be their undoing, surprising the indolent ancestors of the industrious when one day the phone rings and they're told it's suddenly all gone.

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Don Bauder Aug. 8, 2008 @ 9:07 a.m.

Response to post #5: Veblen was a perspicacious oberver of the gilded age. Since the gilded age has returned, particularly in distribution of wealth and income, Veblen is worth reading again. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Aug. 8, 2008 @ 10:07 a.m.

This new research is fascinating:

http://knowledge.wpcarey.asu.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1645

If the zeitgeist has changed from existential fears, and shifted towards worrying over what remediation must be taken to cure what ails us, it bodes ill for luxury goods makers profits.

Also, it seems that those who feel compelled to consume have poor self-esteem:

From W. P. Carey marketing Professor Naomi Mandel:

"People who are high in self-esteem have previously been shown to be less susceptible to mortality salience," Mandel says. "When you start to think about mortality, you start to also think about whether or not you've lived up to cultural standards. You wonder if you've made your mark. Well, those people with high self-esteem think they have."

It's quite the opposite for those with low self-esteem, she notes.

"Those people are trying to put all of these thoughts out of their minds," Mandel says. "They want to escape from self-awareness. They don't want to confront the fact that they don't live up to cultural standards, and one way to do that is through overeating or over-consumption.”

(hat tip to the excellent Hit and Run blog at www.reason.com)>

Anon92107 Aug. 8, 2008 @ 11:59 a.m.

Response to posts #5 & 6:

Thorstein Veblen, awe what a most wonderful name from the past, too bad very few people read, think and remember the past anymore because we keep falling back into the abyss.

"gilded age" plus out of control poverty, the "good old days" have returned for sure because NORC.

Sorry to keep bringing up NORC, but that was really the name for the grim reaper also.

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Don Bauder Aug. 8, 2008 @ 12:39 p.m.

Response to post #7: Overconsumption is personally a route to perdition. Societally and economically, it is a route to destruction. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Aug. 8, 2008 @ 1:56 p.m.

Response to post #9:

Don, we have a lot more than mere over-consumption on our path to hell and destruction to worry about.

The facts are that socially, economically and politically we are being shoved over the cliff into the jaws of indentured servitude by acts of:

  1. Corruption of America’s courts that have overthrown the Rule of Law as former Justice O’Connor documented http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/2008/edition_02-24-2008/Courts_O_Connor
  2. Corruption of American Democracy as documented by Bill Moyers, with much more documentation already published and much more to come http://www.latimes.com/features/books/la-bk-winslow11-2008may11,0,3173432.story
  3. Corruption of our industrial, academic, scientific and political institutions as gravely warned by President Eisenhower http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm
  4. Failures of American Leadership as documented by Lee Iacocca http://www.bordersstores.com/features/feature.jsp?file=wherehavealltheleadersgone
  5. Failures of the human psyche as discussed by E.O. Wilson http://www.alumni.berkeley.edu/calmag/200609/tolan.asp
  6. Failures of American Capitalism as documented by MarketWatch http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/eleven-reasons-america-new-top/story.aspx?guid={D23E1901-728E-4A3C-99D1-7E80F74C3AE3}&dist=TNMostRead
  7. Locally, corrupt San Diego courts long ago destroyed the ability of private citizens to overcome corruption that is destroying San Diego with outrageously corrupt legal fees that are infinitely beyond the ability of the common man to get competent representation and fair settlement, as was classically demonstrated by the failed $120 Million lawsuit against the City of San Diego for using residential water-sewer ratepayer overpayments to subsidize business ratepayer underpayments by lawyers who lost the case by selling out the residential ratepayers for a mere $40 Million (minus $ 5 Million court approved larceny for the “consumer advocate” lawyers who failed the residential ratepayers in favor of the business ratepayers again) http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20070519-9999-1m19shames.html

Ad infinitum ad nauseam

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Don Bauder Aug. 8, 2008 @ 5:57 p.m.

Response to post #10: What politician will tell the voters that they have to cut back on consumption? Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Aug. 9, 2008 @ 2:20 a.m.

Response to post #11:

ANSWER: Doesn't matter, NORC anyway.

When bloodsuckers start selling Soylent Green we had better start buying their stock with whatever money we have left because that is our only future.

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Don Bauder Aug. 9, 2008 @ 7:39 a.m.

Response to post #12: Soylent Green is another new one for naive me. What is it? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 9, 2008 @ 11:10 a.m.

Response to post #14: My wife and I go to about two movies a year. That's another one we missed. Pretty prescient for 1973. Best, Don Bauder

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SDNative1958 Aug. 9, 2008 @ noon

I've often commented to friends and co-workers, when the topic of the ever widening rift of the poor and rich and general overall corruption comes up, "You know the plethora of films that have come out about the end of society, Zombies, and the super-rich living in gated communities being smashed to bits? That's not entertainment, folks - they're training films."

Always guaranteed for nervous laughter followed by a shudder and a hasty topic-change.

Although the second half of one of my favorite films "They Live," by John Carpenter, falls into ludicrousness, the first half is downright horrific as our "hero" stumbles upon a mysterious discarded box of sunglasses that, when worn, reveals subliminal messages behind billboards and television ads imploring citizens to "consume," "breed," and "obey." Brilliant commentary.

An even more biting commentary on the direction our society is turning is the sometimes funny, more often not, satirical film by Mike Judge "Idiocracy." An average guy volunteers to be the subject of a hibernation experiment that goes awry and wakes up 500 years in the future, discovering that he's the smartest person on the planet. There are a few scenes that are absolutely amazing, and will either make you laugh or cry at the exaggeration of what we see and read on a daily basis today.

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JohnnyVegas Aug. 9, 2008 @ 8:45 p.m.

Response to post #14: My wife and I go to about two movies a year. That's another one we missed. Pretty prescient for 1973.

Very cool futuristic movie for the 70's.

I can understand you missing a movie like Soyent Green-but the Beverly Hillbillies???

Don, please tell me you have at least seen "I Love Lucy" and The "Honeymooners" or I will have to disown you and stop posting here.

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Don Bauder Aug. 10, 2008 @ 7:58 a.m.

Response to post #16: Yes, the Carpenter film (which I never saw) brilliantly pointed the finger at the cancer eating U.S. society. Economists, who know better, won't make the point, unless they are completely independent. The books "1984" and "Brave New World" were quite prescient. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 10, 2008 @ 10:49 a.m.

Response to post #17: I know I have seen some episodes of "I Love Lucy" and "The Honeymooners." I can even remember that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz starred in the former and Jackie Gleason and Art Carney in the latter. So there. Best, Don Bauder

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thinkpeace Aug. 18, 2008 @ 6:34 p.m.

I can't believe the nerve of some people! While Margo Schwab gloats about the impact the economic recession is having on San Diego's upper crust, she continues to pander to them in the hopes of securing a free seat at the tables they purchase at various charitable events throughout the year.

Has Schwab ever considered that the socialite who asked her for a loan to help her make her mortgage payment most likely was humilated by the experience? Instead of keeping their conversation confidential, why is Schwab compelled to mock the woman's financial distress on a public blog?

The real story here is the sad fact that this economic recession is hurting San Diegans from all walks of life, not to mention many worthy charitable organizations that enrich the lives of countless people. Instead of engaging in a destructive discussion that serves no positive purpose, it would make much more sense for this blog to encourage people to contribute to a dialogue about how San Diegans, from all cultures and economic backgrounds, can come together to weather this time of economic uncertainty in the hopes of emerging one day as a stronger, more vibrant community.

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Don Bauder Aug. 19, 2008 @ 7:01 a.m.

Response to post #21: You suggestion is a noble one. However, in pursuing such goals, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves. Margo has a keen sense of humor. That's why her website is interesting. Best, Don Bauder

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thinkpeace Aug. 19, 2008 @ 7:50 p.m.

I agree with you that it is important to be able to laugh at ourselves. I guess we disagree on what it means to have a sense of humor. I think having a sense of humor means laughing with people not at them.

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Don Bauder Aug. 20, 2008 @ 7:15 a.m.

Response to post #22: I was the one who communicated with her. I didn't get the impression she was laughing at people, but rather with them. Best, Don Bauder

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