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 Housewife grew up in a big family, and her father never made more than $40,000 a year. She had her own career when she was younger and is now married to a self-made man worth $20 million. She spends $1 million a year running their household.

When it started getting crazy, campaigning about taxing the rich for all the entitled things, I thought to myself, If I’m going to be taxed to pay for social services and social programs, then I’m not in a position to do it myself through charity. So I stopped giving to charity, cold—I still write checks to diseases and organs, but not the big amounts anymore. And it was kind of out of protest. The accountant laughed when I gave her all the receipts in ’09 and said, “I’m not doing it anymore.”

I’m a poor girl who made good and worked hard to get there. Period.

I run the house, the cars, the bills, this and that. And I would say, if anything ever happened to my husband, I would go to counseling, and I would get a job as house manager for Oprah Winfrey. And I’m telling you, the cabinets would be perfect, the floors would be redone, the vases would all be full of flowers when she arrived. This is kind of like an empire. It’s a well-oiled machine.

And our bills are big. Nobody is going to cry me a river, but if you have zero in your checking account at the end of the month, it doesn’t matter how much you went through. It’s still zero. And if you hit that zero on the seventh of the month, you got the same problems as anyone who’s got a zero on the seventh of the month.

I have issues with this word fair. I’m tired of hearing about it: It’s not fair that the rich people don’t pay their fair share, it’s not fair that we don’t have jobs and the rich people do, it’s not fair that the one-percenters are able to give themselves huge bonuses and have lavish parties for their company, and it’s not fair that they have stock. What’s not fair about that? I don’t get it. You work hard, you play by the rules.

But if you do the right thing, you go to school, you work hard, you take care of your own issues, you excel, you get to a place, and then to have someone say by virtue of the fact that you’ve done all this, we need to take some more money just because you have it—you tell me what’s fair about that.

I went to a party in 2008, right after everybody lost all their money in the ­market—and rich people lost money, too. A friend of mine had on a beautiful necklace, and I said, “Oh, that’s lovely. I’m not wearing any jewelry because I feel guilty. Everybody’s hurting.” And she said, “Oh, that’s crazy—you own it, you worked hard for it, you deserve it. Wear it!”

Now, I would wear jewelry or whatever, because I feel so nervous about the future. It’s kind of like enjoy it while I can. Because I don’t know what’s happening down the road—you just don’t know.

I think Warren Buffett’s an idiot. I think he should keep his mouth shut. I think he’s lost some brain cells, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. He wants to give back some money, give back some money. Don’t ask me to give back my money.

I would have lived under a bridge and eaten Spam before I would have expected anybody else to support me. And I know that’s not fair, because I know those people at Occupy can’t find jobs. And I graduated college in a time when I could find a job. But what I don’t understand is how that frustration is somebody else’s fault. And I just don’t think camping in a tent at City Hall is any way to go about it.

I’m going to vote for whoever the Republican candidate is. If it was Mickey Mouse, I’d vote for him.

I took the train into the city last night. I got off at Suburban Station. I have to walk two, three blocks, and I was scared to death. I’ve never seen so many young black ­people—maybe a flash mob was about to happen, I dunno, but they’re all tattooed, the guys all have their pants down below their rear ends, and it’s frightening to a white housewife from the Main Line. Let me qualify that. …

I think the dissolution of the nuclear family and ergo the dissolution of the family structure is the basis of everything that’s happening in the country. I’m not kidding. I think it’s that one single thing. Because if you have a husband, you work hard together to make it. If you don’t make it, you have family to rely on.

Nobody has any ambition anymore. What’s that about? It is really weird. Nobody wants to rule the world anymore. I want to rule the world.