This week at the FT Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco Johann Rupert, chairman of Richemont, talked about hot the effects of wage inequality keep him up at night, precisely because he thinks that a revolution of the poor is imminent.
It seems that Mr. Rupert has been affected by the Hunger Games films a little bit too much, because he actually said that he is preparing for this coming revolution and that he hopes to manage to survive it.
Rupert believes that the trigger will be the destruction of the middle class that will come to pass in the following years, due to the introduction of very smart technology that is able to render some jobs obsolete.
And when this happens, the millionaire expects all the poor people to rise up and impose their retribution on the wealthy. And the example that he gave actually fits perfectly with his current situation.
He talked about how rich people will eventually stop displaying expensive things in public, because they will fear the fact that their children’s schoolmates have unemployed parents.
This actually makes a lot of sense considering that Richemont includes companies like Cartier and Mont Blanc. Furthermore, since these companies are experiencing problems for the first time at the moment, after at least two decades of uninterrupted prosperity, it is explainable why Mr. Rupert is rather traumatized.
“How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hatred and the social warfare? Because the people with money will not wish to show it” said Mr. Rupert.
Mr. Rupert has made a fortune from men that pay lots and lots of money to buy diamond engagement rings for their dewy-eyed fiancees. It has actually been estimated at $7 billion, which is more than a person can spend in a lifetime, if you think about it.
But at the first signs that his fortune might not be getting bigger this year, Mr. Rupert seems to have been struck by paranoia. And he even admits is. And yet, he says that he would rather be paranoid and prepared for the coming revolution, rather than hopeful and ill-equipped.
He talked about how 0,1% of 0,1% are “taking all the spoils” and how this is unsustainable and not fair, precisely because these would remain Richemont’s only clients. Therefore, he finds the elaboration of a social pact absolutely imperative.
There is some truth to Mr. Rupert’s words though, because the destruction of the middle class will truly have devastating effects on society and there will come a time when wage inequality will have to be addressed in a situation where the poor majority will fight the wealthy minority.
However, we still have some more years to go until we get to that point, and there is a chance that through the right decisions, this type of crisis could be avoided.
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