The Badges Of Wealth Elites Display To Signal, “I’m Very, Very Rich”

Very rich people, or those who want to pretend to be very rich, have always found ways to identify themselves to other “people like us.”


Image by PDPics from Pixabay

— David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

Humans communicate in many ways. Sometimes the message is explicit: “You’re fired.”

But often human communications are more subtle.

Indirect Messaging

The boy who asked a girl to go to the movies with him on Saturday night and was told that she couldn’t because she had to wash her hair, has received the message, “I will never go out with you.”

You see an old friend at a party and say, “Bob, it’s been a long time. Let me know the next time you’re in town and we’ll have lunch” and you never hear from Bob.

His silence is a message telling you that he isn’t as good a friend as you thought he was.

Membership Badges

Humans adopt various strategies to publicly communicate a person’s membership in a particular group.

Sometimes we self-label ourselves. Sometimes other people do it for us.

The Nazis labeled “undesirable” people with badges sewn to their shirts — a yellow star for Jews, green inverted triangles for criminals, pink triangles for homosexuals, red ones for political prisoners, etc.

Instead of wearing a badge bearing a Jewish star or a Christian cross sewn onto their sleeves, today a person might choose to wear a prominent Jewish star or a Christian cross on a chain around their neck, an announcement to other members of their religion, “I’m one of you.”

Have you noticed that Mike Lindell, the infamous “pillow guy” always prominently displays a cross on his lapel and on a chain?

Rich People

Very rich people, or those who want to pretend to be very rich, have always found ways to announce themselves to other “people like us.”

My girlfriend and I recently spent some time wandering through the local Neiman Marcus. I found a shirt that I liked. It was $995. No, it wasn’t hand-sewn silk, and it had no gold or diamonds embedded in it. It was just a nice cotton sport shirt.

She had no trouble finding a $5,000 purse. It was OK, but you could have hired a good craftsman to fabricate a hand-made copy for five or six hundred dollars.

My Seiko electronic watch keeps perfect time, has a count-up timer, shows the day and date, and has an alarm. It cost me less than $50.

A Patek Philipe Nautilus 5926 men’s watch has a mechanical movement so it cannot be as accurate as my Seiko, shows the day, date, month (in case you are so distracted that you don’t know what month it is) and phases of the moon (in case for some reason you need to know and cannot just look at the sky tonight) and costs $54,410, plus tax.

No sane city-dweller owns a Ferrari 458 Spider as their primary car or even their second car.

You can’t even get the oil warmed up in ten miles of city driving. You’re not going to jump into your Ferrari to pick up a load of groceries at Whole Foods or a 24-roll mega-pack of Charmin Extra Soft and a case of bottled water at Costco.

No, if you own a Ferrari you keep it in a garage 95% of the time, and when you do, occasionally, take it out, it’s for only one purpose — to tell other people, “I’m so rich that I can afford to buy a $265,000 Ferrari as my second (or third) car, pay $5,500 a year for insurance, and only drive it once or twice a week.

Why would someone spend $1,000 for a cotton shirt or $54,000 for a mechanical watch or $265,000 for an occasional car?

Because they are not just a shirt and a watch. They are subtle, but public, badges of wealth.

In the same way that the Star of David and the gold cross tell other Christians and Jews, “I’m one of you,” the thousand dollar shirts, $3,000 shoes, $50,000 watches and $265,000 cars tell other rich people, “I’m one of you.”

Explicit Dollar-Sign Badges

Here’s an idea: Create a set of very artistic logos sewn in gold thread with from one to five stylized dollar signs all embossed onto cloth patches, like the one to four stars that designate a general’s or a police chief’s level of rank.

Trademark them and include anti-counterfeiting technology such as embedded, encoded RFID chips.

Include instructions on the locations where the patch should be sewn onto shirts, coats, pants, underwear and caps.

Sell them for:

  • $ — $99
  • $$ — $500
  • $$$ — $5,000
  • $$$$ — $100,000
  • $$$$$ — $500,000
  • Require an annual fee equal to 10% of the purchase price to prevent the RFID chip from registering as DEACTIVATED FOR UNPAID ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION instead of the registrant’s name and phone number on any RFID scanners they are exposed to.

With one of these on your breast pocket no one will be able to miss your announcement about how rich you are. No subtly needed.

Proclaiming Membership In Other Groups


Of course, rich people aren’t the only ones who want to publicly self-identify themselves.

All those idiots whose pants are at half mast are likely proclaiming that they are tough guys, “like prison inmates.” (I won’t get into a discussion of how stupid you have to be to think that having the history and character of a state-prison inmate is a good thing. Just ask some ex-convicts how much they want other people to know that they’ve spent time inside.)

Sports’ Team Fans

I get it when my friend spends $35 to buy a Steph Curry t-shirt. He’s self-identifying himself as a fan of Curry and the Warriors

Consumer Goods Fans

But then there are the people who voluntarily label themselves with the brand names of consumer goods. And not elite consumer goods — Porshe for example — but cheap, common consumer goods.

What are you saying when you spend $35 to buy a t-shirt with the Budweiser name and logo plastered all over both sides — “I like cheap beer”?

That’s just plain stupid.

Notice The Labels

So, the next time you see someone wearing an obscenely overpriced piece of clothing or jewelry, recognize what they’re doing.

They’re not wearing it because of the quality or the cut or the characteristics of the thing itself.

They paid a ridiculous price for that shirt or that purse in relation to its inherent utility as a cover charge that allows them to proclaim to others like themselves, “I too am a member of the insanely rich club.”

Are you wearing any labels? Are you trying to pump yourself up by swearing allegiance to some group? Are you desperate to proclaim membership in some tribe? Why? Why? Why?

— David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

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Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 16 novels and over 400 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.