Lifestyles of the rich and not-so-famous

At least some folks are thriving in this economy.

Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price. Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin “Bianca” platform pumps, at $775 a pair. Mercedes-Benz said it sold more cars last month in the United States than it had in any July in five years.

Even with the economy in a funk and many Americans pulling back on spending, the rich are again buying designer clothing, luxury cars and about anything that catches their fancy. Luxury goods stores, which fared much worse than other retailers in the recession, are more than recovering — they are zooming. Many high-end businesses are even able to mark up, rather than discount, items to attract customers who equate quality with price.

“If a designer shoe goes up from $800 to $860, who notices?” said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at the consulting firm Kurt Salmon, and the former chairman and chief executive of Saks.

To be clear about this, I don’t begrudge these folks. If people have been successful — or they’ve inherited great wealth from family members who’ve been successful — I wish them well. They can shop to their hearts’ content and buy whatever luxury goods strike their fancy.

In July, the national economy may have been struggling badly, but the luxury sector saw an 11.6% increase in sales. Fine.

The point that comes to mind, though, is that congressional Republicans believe asking these folks to pay even a little more in taxes is absolutely out of the question. GOP officials believe everyone else can and should be asked to make some sacrifices, on top of the burdens they’ve already endured, but asking the very wealthy to pay Clinton-era tax rates would be a travesty.

Indeed, Republicans refuse to even consider the possibility. They see this remarkable concentration of wealth at the very top, the most dramatic in generations, and assume all is right with the world.

Perhaps we should simply keep waiting for the wealth to trickle down?