The Irritations of Wealth

Westbrook Pegler

Richmond Times-Dispatch/January 5, 1937

WITHIN the last week there have been three spectacular demonstrations along the coast of a kind likely to arouse dangerous unrest among the lower classes and promote the spirit of Communism.

It is improbable that the authors of these occasions are in secret sympathy with Moscow yet the situation is one which seems to invite the patriotic intervention of the American Legion, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the churches.

In Philadelphia Mr. and Mrs. Peter A. B. Widener 2nd gave a debut for Mrs. Widener’s daughter Joan Peabody—cost $50,000. In New York, for the second time this year, Miss Barbara Field, the daughter of Marshall Field, was introduced to society with 1,000 guests on hand—cost $50,000.

Miss Field was first introduced to society by her father at a $50,000 party but either she or society didn’t catch the name, so the presentation was repeated at the Ritz under the auspices of her mother, who gets alimony of $1,000,000 a year from Mr. Field, who gets it from the department store in Chicago.

It is to be hoped that Miss Field and society both listen carefully this time so that they will recognize one another hereafter.

Run Into Important Money

Not only do these introductions run into money but more important, they tend to irritate the lower classes who do not have the intelligence to reason things out calmly and perceive the nobility of such spending, but only mutter “$50,000 for one party! Why, the louses.”

There is no use arguing that this spending gives employment to waiters and florists and the peasant girls of France who tread the grapes, because the lower classes can see only contrasts and these make them sore.

The third party was given on New Year’s eve by Mrs. Evelyn Walsh McLean—cost $50,000.

To be sure these are all very rich people and their money is theirs to spend as they please after they have met the inquisition of the income tax department. Yet there are other ways of arousing the ignorant annoyance of the unemployed and the underpaid than by howling at them from a soap box or stepladder in a foreign accent redolent of garlic and this is one.

Indeed these three hosts, sturdy Americans of honest American background, by their garish extravagance widely publicized in the papers, reached a far greater audience than all the soap-box and stepladder agitators in the Communist Party and in much more realistic fashion.

Cries Up for Americanism

The case is one which cries for the robust Americanism of the chiefs of police of Terre Haute Ind; Atlanta, Ga.; and Tampa, Fla., who know how to deal with Communist disturbers coming into their midst to stir up unrest and strife by exhorting the lower classes to strike for something called their rights.

Comrade Earl Brower of Kansas, who ran for President on the Communist ticket, was resolutely suppressed during the late campaign although he could not possibly have dramatized the proposition as effectively as it was presented in these three demonstrations within the last week.

Perhaps it would involve a slight invasion of the constitutional rights of the hosts in such cases if the local chief of police, the Legion, and the DAR should intervene each according to established custom.

The chief could turn out the strong-arm squad to rip down the decorations, beat up the musicians and the guests, and confiscate the champagne.

The Legion might picket the premises and the DAR, of course, would pass resolutions denouncing the festivities as provocative of social unrest and a boost for Communism.

A Case for a Good Dictator

I AM inclined to measures a little more robust, feeling that anything which breeds discontent among the lower classes prepares the way for Communism with its godlessness and intolerance for sacred things. My way would be to call on Mussolini and Hitler for bombing planes to blast these $50,000 parties without mercy in the name of God instead of waiting until the lower classes are driven to vulgar extremes as in Spain and then bombing the people themselves.

Of course I may miscalculate the feeling of the poor on reading that Miss Field, for example, has been introduced again at a further cost of $50,000 to a lot of boys and girls whom she has known all her life and to a lot of others whom she will never see again if her luck is with her.

Possibly they are pleased in their simple way to hear about this and the mother’s annual alimony of $1,000,000 from the father who gets it from the store.

But there are almost certain to be some employees who will entertain a selfish wish that the money had been spread around in wages for the clerks.

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