Luxury values, hidden agendas

The world’s wealthy preach one thing, while doing the opposite.

02 October 2023

Bronwyn Williams.

What are luxury values? Luxury values, or beliefs, are a phrase coined by the American writer and academic Rob K Henderson. These sorts of premium values are best understood as values preached and promoted by the wealthiest and most powerful members of our society, without actually being practised by them. A good example of these luxury values would be Bill Gates telling ordinary people like you and me, without shame or irony, to stop flying commercial for frivolous holidays while he flies around doing his important climate work in his private jet. His reasoning is that he is doing far more good with his travels than you do with yours.

Another example would be the idea promoted in the media and popular consciousness that high-status women don’t or shouldn’t have children, that children hold a woman back from independence and wealth and should be seen as a luxury and not an investment. This idea has taken off in the middle class, largely as a result of high-profile celebrities endorsing this philosophy tacitly or implicitly, as is evidenced by falling birth rates in rich and developing nations. However, a peep behind the high walls of the richest strata of society reveals that our billionaires have many children themselves. Elon Musk and his 10 children are exhibit A.

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