Friday, December 5, 2008

‘I Have 18,000 acres in the Adirondacks;I’ll fly some of these cats up there in my private jet’

“I have 18,000 acres in the Adirondacks,” she said. “I’ll fly some of these cats up there in my private jet.”  That was the quote that lead me to an interesting post over at the Huffington Post by Laurence Leamer. At first I though the quote was about people – you know, like “hey, look at those hep cats – let’s fly them up to the Adirondacks on my private jet.” I was wrong – the cats were not hipsters, they were cats, feline.

The whole post is worth a read because it discusses the outrageous beliefs the wealthiest among us often have or condone. It’s not that they are the only ones – I hear the same kinds of idiocy from some of my neighbors – but it’s startling how public it is in the circles of the supposedly educated and cultured rich.

Anyway, here is a sample:

I had lunch with one of the leading socialites the day after the election. “That black tar baby won,” she said spitting out the words as if she had bitten into something foul. “And if he’s killed the problem is that the one who would take over next is just as bad.” I was stunned that this elegant, well brought up lady should say such things, but it was sentiment repeated any number of times in the next few days…

The problem here [in Palm Beach County, Florida] is not just politics. It’s that even when these people think they are making these magnificent charitable contributions, many of these causes have nothing to do with the crucial issues and problems facing our nation and world. It’s not chic to think about poverty, homelessness, AIDS, and other unseemly matters. I volunteer once a week at The Lord’s Place, a marvelous organization working with the homeless in Palm Beach County. It’s about a two-mile drive from my home but there is only one other person from the island of Palm Beach who volunteers. It’s considered terrible gauche and rather unseemly.

I attended a luncheon at the private Club Colette in Palm Beach a few days ago for feral cats. There are about 400 of these wild animals on the island and they are treated better than the 4,000 homeless across the bridge. The cats get fed regularly and are watched over by a number of dedicated society ladies. It costs several hundred thousand dollars a year to treat these cats in the fashion in which they are accustomed, whereas last year The Lord’s Place raised only $40,000 in Palm Beach.

During the luncheon one wealthy matron got up to make her testimonial. “I have 18,000 acres in the Adirondacks,” she said. “I’ll fly some of these cats up there in my private jet.” I kept thinking about the homeless families in West Palm Beach sleeping in cars. It is stunning to me how far out of the crucial concerns of our country so many of these people are. There is desperate need across the Inland Waterway, but that is another world, and most of these people intend to keep it that way. It’s a story writ large in wealthy enclaves across America.


John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John's Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.

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