Tsar Vladimir the Magnificent 2

When it comes to magnificent life-styles, King Barry of America has a long way to go to catch up with Tsar Vladimir of Russia.

Now we declare unequivocally that we are made happy by the outward signs of riches. We love abundance, and the best that human hands can build and make however costly the things may be. When people gain great wealth by supplying other people’s wants (or by luck), we applaud. We hear the sound of the invisible hand clapping.*

The world cannot be too full of man-made glory. Let there be palaces, let there be yachts, let there be private jets. Let jewels adorn the beautiful and the ugly alike.

We have no moral objection to extravagance. We see “conspicuous consumption” not as something to inspire disgust, and certainly not envy, but as incentive to those among us who have not yet become conspicuous to keep on trying to be – if they so wish. (We ourselves – in case our readers are wondering – do not live magnificently, but we haven’t despaired.) We abhor poverty, not plenty. 

We make one proviso – that the owners acquire their possessions with their own money.

King Barry and Tsar Vladimir pay for their luxury with the money they take from tax-payers. They can do this because they are elected heads of government. Governments hold the people’s money in trust. They should spend it frugally, account to the people for every penny of it, justify every expense. Not to do so is corruption. There is no justification for King Barry to spend millions on a vacation. But at least he has not yet spent American tax-payers’ money (as far as we know) on gold watches and … a toilet seat costing £47,000 ($76, 000)?  Good grief! What the hell is the thing made of?

This is from the MailOnline:

Palaces, yachts, white gold watches and a £47,000 toilet on his plane are just a few of the presidential perks Vladimir Putin enjoys, according to a damning new report.

In 2008 the reinstalled Russian President famously compared his life in office to a “galley slave” during a press conference.

But now a lavish list of luxuries at his disposal have been revealed by Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister turned Putin critic.

Nemtsov estimated that the maintenance of Putin’s residences, jets and cars alone costs £1.6 billion a year.

The 32 page document listed 58 planes and helicopters and 20 homes with opulent fittings worthy of the tsars, not to mention 11 watches which alone are worth several times Putin’s annual salary.

Published under the ironic title The Life of a Galley Slave, it denounced the lavish spending as an affront to millions of Russians living in dire poverty.

Listed in the report are –

20 palaces and villas: with opulent fittings worthy of the tsars

15 helicopters

43 aircraft available include an Airbus, two Dassault Falcon executive jets and an Ilyushin Il-96 airliner that features an $11 million cabin fitted out by jewelers – and that toilet which, the report says, cost close to £47,000

A 53.7-metre yacht: with a designer interior, a spa pool, waterfall and wine cellar

A waterfall on a yacht? Well, there’s no accounting for taste. And that yacht, the report says, is “relegated to second best” to –

A five-decked yacht: with a jacuzzi, barbecue, a maple wood colonnade and a huge bathroom faced in marble.

The authors also identified from photographs a total of 11 luxury timepieces on the wrist of the head of state and calculated their total value at some £400,000, while noting Putin had declared an annual income less than £700,000.

The text was accompanied by photographs of luxurious homes, jets, helicopters, cars and watches, complete with footnotes citing Russian media as sources for many of the items.

Nine new residences had been added to the list available to the president since Putin first became head of state in 2000, it said.

Homes he could retreat to across the country ranged from seaside palaces to a ski lodge, and boasted everything from saunas and billiard rooms to a ‘presidential church’.

The president of Russia needs his own church? To worship himself perhaps? N0-no – he’s a Christian.

Putin … once dismissed talk of him being a billionaire as “snot from the noses of Western reporters smeared on paper”.

A colorful turn of phrase, the Tsar has.

However, there is one thing we like about Tsar Vlad’s evolution from a Communist to a Plutocrat: it indicates that nobody can really like Communism – not for himself, anyway.


*Footnote: Two allusions here. One to the “invisible hand” of the free market, of course. The other to the Zen Buddhist koan (nonsensical riddle to confuse your faculty of reason): “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Posted under Capitalism, Commentary, communism, corruption, Economics, Ethics, News, Russia, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, October 20, 2013

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