- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2007

Silver spoons

“The American wealth boom has created a boomlet of rich kids and a new generation of anxious [wealthy] parents. Based on average family size, there are now more than 4 million children of American millionaires. And all those silver spoons are dipping into a record amount of disposable income and inherited wealth. …

“Television is filled with images of young wealth gone wild, with pouty heiresses demanding new Mercedes and $200,000 birthday parties. Paris Hilton kicked off the trend with ‘The Simple Life,’ a reality show where the doe-eyed sex symbol slums it on an Arkansas farm. MTV’s ‘Rich Girls’ chronicled the shopping expeditions of Tommy Hilfiger’s teenage daughter Ally and her friend Jaime Gleicher, while the channel’s other teen-spend-ing fantasy ‘My Super Sweet 16’ shows the sons and daughters (mostly daughters) of the newly rich vying for the title of most profligate birthday party.

“All that extravagance has created new parenting problems. … A spate of recent research studies is shedding more light on how wealth, in addition to giving kids advantages, can become a family curse. Without the need to work, children develop little sense of motivation or drive. They have trouble developing basic life skills — cleaning up, managing money, working with other people — since they’re used to relying on house staff and parents”

Robert L. Frank, writing on “Paris Hilton syndrome and how to avoid it,” in the Sunday Times of London

Friend of freedom

“During the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, free-market ideas were constantly under attack from Marxists, moderate socialists, welfare statists, and Keynesians. Free enterprise had far fewer friends than today, and not many academics were willing to make the uncompromising case for economic freedom. Hans Sennholz [who died June 23] was one of them. …

Hans Sennholz aroused the enthusiasm of a new generation of students to develop and spread those ideas.

“The freedom movement owes Hans Sennholz a great debt of gratitude. He will be sorely missed by all those who had the privilege to know and learn from him.”

Richard M. Ebeling, writing on “Hans F. Sennholz, 1922-2007,” June 25 for the Foundation for Economic Education at www.fee.org

Mobs for media

“Salman Rushdie accepted a knighthood from her majesty the queen, and the whole cycle of hysteria started up again. Effigies and flags burned (is there some special factory in Karachi that churns out the flags of democratic countries for occasions like this?), wounded screams from religious nut bags, bounties raised to suborn murder, and solemn resolutions passed by notional bodies such as the Pakistani ‘parliament.’ A few months ago, it was the pope who was being threatened, and Christians in the Middle East and Muslim Asia who were actually being killed. …

“I have actually seen some of these demonstrations, most recently in Islamabad, and all I would do if I were a news editor is ask my camera team to take several steps back from the shot. We could then see a few dozen gesticulating men (very few women for some reason), their mustaches writhing as they scatter lighter fluid on a book or a flag or a hastily made effigy. Around them, a two-deep encirclement of camera crews. When the lights are turned off, the little gang disperses.”

Christopher Hitchens, writing on “Look Forward to Anger,” June 25 at Slate.com

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