Confessions of Philadelphia’s One Percent

They've been mocked, maligned, protested, pilloried, and generally blamed for the downfall of the economy. So what's it feel like to be rich these days? We asked. Five wealthy (and anonymous) Philadelphians answered.

The Marketing Mogul lives in the Philly suburbs and also has a house at the Shore. He’s built his firm into an international business, and he’s worth north of $20 million.

I sleep the sleep of angels, being in marketing. If I worked for Goldman Sachs, I’m not so sure. They’re moving money around. And making billions and sticking it in their pockets. But they’re not producing anything. I am stimulating the economy. I’m producing something. I’m getting people to buy products. Look what happened when we didn’t have consumer demand for two, three years.

I’m one of the highest-level flyers with U.S. Airways. So that gives you an indication of how often I travel. And my kids love to travel. I want to give them experiences. I think travel’s the ultimate luxury.

You know what? I’m surrounded by people who have so much more than me that I actually don’t feel rich. I actually, a lot of times, think I’m not successful. It’s weird. I’m a piker compared to these guys. And I don’t have a prayer of getting there.

My daughter is the most money-­conscious of my kids. Because as my business came on, she grew up in a little more money. So she doesn’t know any different. And she actually asked me not long ago, “Dad, what do you have, like $250 million?” She thinks I’m Bill Gates. No, honey, no—not even close. Not even close. And by the way, you’re poor. Get to work. You have nothing.

I love giving back to charity. To me, it’s like—it kind of rounds me out. I feel pure.

If you have money, I think you have better health. There’s less stress. And access to—you know, you can get a massage. Get someone­ to come to your house. My wife—we have a woman who comes to our house every two weeks, and we get a massage. And it’s great. Your body needs that. It’s better health. You can afford—even little things, like my wife gets these special creams that you put on your skin. And the really good, ridiculously priced shampoos. I see the prices on them, I’m like, where do they make these things?

I’m fiscally conservative. But I haven’t found a party I like. Because the Republicans scare me.
Obama’s fiscal policies scare me. You saw what he’s doing. He’s going after the rich with increased taxes. So I’m going to pay five percent more taxes under him starting next year? That scares the hell out of me. I pay plenty in taxes. All I do is pay taxes. I pay the maximum.

The Occupy movement around City Hall repulsed me. I felt like these were people who were wasting time, could’ve been more productive than sitting there and camping out and creating unsanitary conditions in a public place. Every time I drove past, I was just tempted to shout out to them: “Get a freakin’ job! Get a freakin’ job!”

I laugh when rich people are criticized. I feel that anybody can have wealth if they want to. It’s all about getting an education, filling a need in the marketplace. Anybody can have money.

My kids have all bought in—they’re drinking my Kool-Aid. They’re workers. But they’ll create something, yeah. They aspire to—they want better than us, financially. Why not?

I think we need more scientists. Science is not cool. Do you know how many friends’ kids want to go into my business? That’s great, but we need more kids becoming scientists, and inventing things. So I can market them.

I think most people still aspire to have wealth. And I think as I get older, money is more of a motivator for me. I don’t know why. Because I keep score. I keep score as I get older. And I kind of wish I didn’t.

I take about $2.5 million a year. But my wife only sees $400,000. That’s it. That runs the house. Well, she does email me, I got one today: Transfer money in. I get these all the time from her. Transfer money into my daughter’s account. You add it all up, it’s another 50, 75 grand. Travel’s another 50 grand. That’s just for personal travel, not corporate.

But that’s it. The rest I invest.

The Boss is married with children and lives on the Main Line. He comes from an upper-middle-class family. His business employs more than 1,000 people, and The Boss is worth some $50 million.

Am I ever work-free? You know, I try to find moments to be with my family and shut down. It’s hard. But I don’t think when you’re running a business you can ever be totally away from it. Too many people are relying on you.
My wife and I probably spend a million dollars a year—that’s a fair ballpark.

When you are educated on how to give money away, you can really make a difference. And it actually motivates me to work harder, to make more money to give it away. I’d say I give more than $150,000 a year to charity.

I think Obama’s rhetoric against business and rich people has been brutal. I didn’t vote for him. I didn’t love the other ticket either, by the way. If McCain had had a stronger VP, like a Tom Ridge or somebody like that, that would’ve been great for me.

Listen, Obama got dealt a shitty hand: Lehman Brothers, the war, the recession. I don’t think anyone could’ve gotten us through it. The problem for me fundamentally was when I watched what he did with GM and the car companies, and he said to the bondholders, You need to take a hit. To me, that was fundamentally un-American.

Think about where Obama is today on rich people or big business. Over a thousand people work for me, okay? And they get up and do a good job. But you know what? Not one of them goes to bed every night knowing that they owe the bank tens of millions of dollars of debt. But I do. Okay? I take that risk. Every day. You can’t chastise the people who create industry, create opportunities for people to work, for people to have a better education, people to better themselves. And attacking people who have sacrificed to build businesses that employ Americans—to me, that’s crazy.

I think the worst is when Obama stands up there and says, All these rich guys flying around on their corporate jets. Well, you know what? Me and a lot of other executives, I work 18 hours a day, 20 hours a day. So if I can be in three cities in one day, I’m doing better for myself, my company, my employees, my shareholders. Do we want executives who are running big business to be stuck in an airport for five hours and not be able to get their work done and be productive? I don’t get it.

Obama had no problem collecting millions of dollars of royalties on his books. He should give that money away. If he’s that adamant against rich people—but he’s rich. He’s a one-percenter.

I think that when you watch all that Occupy stuff that went on, that was scary. Because that was, to me, like the beginning of class warfare in our world. And I’ve never seen something like that before. It was uncomfortable. It was wrong.

I think Occupy was very focused, and they were very well organized—on getting the word out that the masses need to be thought of differently. And I guess shame on those businesses that have done a bad job on making the workers feel important and appreciated. That’s not productive, either. But they’re also—America in general is lazy. And there’s a sense of entitlement that exists here that doesn’t in other countries.

I guess Occupy was showing me that it’s one thing to be bitter about what’s going on in your situation in life and say, I want a job, I want to work but we’re not creating jobs. But I was shocked to then see them also turn and say, You know what? We also hate the one-percenters. Rich people. I think they’re two separate things. It’s as if the rich people kept all their money and fired everybody.

Confessions of Philadelphia’s One Percent: Click here to hear from The Housewife.