Tag Archives: Ultra-Rich

The American Express Black Card

I love it when people pay for stuff with an American Express Black Card. Technically it’s called the Centurion Card, but nobody calls it that. It’s always just the Black Card. It’s just like a regular credit card, except it’s nothing like a regular credit card at all. What’s yours made of, plastic? Ha! I’m laughing at you, because that’s pathetic. But I’m also laughing at myself, unfortunately, because I don’t have a Black Card either, I just have a stupid plastic card, just like you. Ha!

amex black card

How does it feel to know that I could be sitting next to you at a restaurant, and I could be waiting there with a pair of scissors, and when you take out your credit card to pay, I could snatch it out of your hands and cut it into pieces before you even realized what I was doing? You dumb jerk.

But go ahead and try that trick on an American Express Black Card. I hope you have enough cash to buy several pairs of scissors. Why? Because the American Express Black Card isn’t some shitty piece of plastic. No, it’s made out of metal. If you want to cut the Black Card, you’d need like a pair of diamond bladed scissors. And have fun trying to buy a pair of diamond bladed scissors with your stupid plastic cut-in-half credit card. The saleslady will be like, “Ha! That’s cute. Security!” and they’d toss you straight out of the diamond bladed scissor store.

Look, it’s not for everybody. If the Black Card were for everybody, like if American Express decided to change its policy, to make it easy for anybody to apply for a Black Card, people currently holding Black Cards would revolt, they’d all start applying for some new even more exclusive credit card, like a card made out of moon rocks, or mercury.

Because its exclusivity is what makes the Black Card the Black Card. You have to be really, really rich to get one. There’s a huge membership fee. You’re required to charge a ridiculous amount of money every year. And what does this all get you? What makes the Black Card different than any other credit card?

It’s about sending a message. It used to be that if you wanted to tell a complete stranger,

“Listen pal, I know that I don’t know you, that you don’t know anything about me, or what I do. But I want to let you in on something. Come here. Come closer. Ready? Here it is. I am super rich. Like much richer than you’re imagining in your head right now. Here’s a pad and paper. I want you to go ahead and write down how much you think I made this month. No, seriously, I insist. OK, let me see. Yeah, not even close. Ha! Let me put it this way, you could work you’re entire life, and that wouldn’t be half of what I spent on lunch. Now get out of my face, asshole,”

you’d have to actually call them over and make them listen to you.

Nowadays all you have to do is pull out your Black Card. It’s great, because most of the time, the people that are handling your credit card are exactly the people that you’re trying to put in their place: salespeople, waiters, the guy making your coffee, the gas station attendant. Now you don’t even have to say anything to them. Just barely acknowledge their existence, don’t look them in the eye as you hand over that hefty slab of a status symbol. Watch them try to act like they don’t care, like they’re not trying to bend it with their hands as they run it through their machines.

You don’t have to have any more of a human interaction with them besides rubbing it in their face, that you’re rich, that you’re a really, really, really rich person, somebody with so much money that all of the ridiculous fees, all of those stories you hear about how impossible it is just to be invited to be able to purchase a Black Card membership, it’s nothing to you, it’s a micro-fraction of half of a drop in the bucket, a bucket so big that most everybody else’s buckets, even if they were combined into one big bucket, it still wouldn’t be big enough to hold even half of one of those micro-fraction drops of yours, the one you used on your Black Card.

I hope that someday I’ll be able to have my own Black Card. I’ll walk into a restaurant, a car dealership, a yacht club, some private wine cellar somewhere, and if my eighty thousand dollar watch doesn’t give it away, if the people I’m dealing with don’t recognize my designer suits or my helicopter waiting for me outside, if for some reason I ever find myself in a position where a regular nobody for some reason doesn’t recognize who I am, what I’m worth, just exactly what I’m sitting on top of here, I can just pull out my black metal credit card as a subtle reminder to everybody of my lot in life. It does all of the same things as your credit card, only the money supply behind it is nearly infinite, no upward limit. It’s the ultra-wealthy equivalent of going to a screen-printing place and having a t-shirt made up that says, “I am richer, much, much richer than you are.”

Why I don’t think cloning is going to work (or, Welcome to Cloney Island)

I forget where, but I heard somebody or read something about clones the other day. It was some crazy imaginary scenario where a guy goes into a medical facility in the future because his liver or his heart is failing. They’re going to clone him, and then take out the clone’s organ and do a transplant. They guy walks in, they do they procedure, and he gets up to leave but he’s strapped to the operating table, and all of the doctors are like, “Sorry clone, you’re not going anywhere.”

Because the clone has all of the guy’s memories up until the point of cloning, that’s what it feels like. Right? I don’t know. I’m totally pro-cloning. I would clone myself in a second. It wouldn’t be exploitative. I’d be more than willing to share half of my life with a clone. The immediate upside is that I’d only have to work half as many hours. We could just take turns. So that would be great.

But the obvious downside is that we’d be spending double the money on food and drink. Clothes wouldn’t be a problem, because I have more than one pair of clothing. But laundry detergent use would definitely double. Still, I think it would be worth it, absolutely, to be able to go to work half the time. There are so many ways to split it up. It’s like I would only have to work two days a week. Or, I could work a full week and then have a full week’s vacation, and we could alternate.

Most clone story problems happen because a guy makes a clone of himself and then realizes once the clone exists that there is just too much stuff that he’s not willing to compromise with himself. Like the organ donor story that I started out with. If you want to get cloned, you have to go into it assuming that you’re going to be the clone, because maybe you will be. Who knows whose memories are going to belong to which one? And what if the cloning company is run by a bunch of incompetents, always mixing up who is the clone and who is the original?

I’m just saying, you plan it out in advance so that if you were to wake up tomorrow as a clone, you’d be happy with all of the decisions the original made in advance. Equal power sharing. Equal work time. And yeah, an extra kidney if something goes wrong. Livers would be problematic still, the same with hearts. But kidneys, eyes, hands, anything that there are two of, you’d be fine.

Unfortunately it’s never going to be that easy. The first people to get their hands on cloning technology will definitely be the ultra-rich. And everybody knows that the ultra-rich are basically a bunch of selfish a-holes. They don’t want to compromise on or share anything. They earned it, the right to own everything. They’ll take the above scenario, the organ harvesting I’m-not-the-clone-you’re-the-clone story and they’d think about it, they’d acknowledge what would have to be a pretty unpleasant scenario for the clone, and they’d just say, well screw that guy, screw that clone, screw myself. I need an extra heart and I don’t care if I have to bring into existence an identical version of myself to do it.

I would love to clone myself and then challenge the clone to a race, or a game of basketball, or rocks-paper-scissors. I’ve never lost rocks-paper-scissors. Not even once. Maybe we’d walk up to each other, eye-to-eye, we’d both go “rocks-paper-scissors says shoot.” And we’d both draw rock. That’s always my first move. And then I always go scissor. And then scissor. It goes rock, scissor, scissor, rock, scissor, paper, paper, paper, paper, paper, paper, rock, paper, paper, rock, paper, scissor. I always do that combo because it’s unbeatable. But that’s as far as I’ve ever gone. What would it be like against myself? Would it just be an eternal tie? We’d be standing there, for days, rocks-paper-scissors shoot: paper, tie. Rocks-paper-scissors shoot: paper: tie.

And the days would go by and people would come up to us and go, “Robs, you really need to take a break, stop for even just a second, go to the bathroom, take a drink of water.” But neither of us would quit. You know why? Because I would never quit. So therefore the two of us would never quit. But eventually the physical demands of everything that people had been warning us about, food, water, bathroom breaks, they’ll all have taken their toll, and we’ll both pass out at the exact same second.

And we’ll both wake up in the hospital, and the doctors will be saying, “Sorry Robs, but you didn’t go to the bathroom and didn’t drink any water to the point where all four of your kidneys failed at the same time.” And we’d be shocked, but the doctor would tell us not to worry, he’d say, “Don’t worry boys, your insurance covered some pretty fancy procedures, and we were able to clone the two of you. So as soon as your clones are all ready, we’ll just harvest their organs and give them to you.” And I’ll open my mouth to say, “I don’t know how I feel about that doc,” but I wouldn’t be able to actually say it out loud, because my mouth is taped shut, and my arms and legs are strapped to the hospital gurney. And I’ll break into a cold sweat as I realize that I’m the clone here, and they’re going to harvest my kidneys. And my head is strapped down also, but I move my eyes as far as I can to the side and I can see another me, also strapped in, and two more of me to his side, laying down on the operating table as the doctors tell them not to worry, that the procedure will be over and done with in no time, that there’s nothing to worry about, this is a very common operation we’re talking about here.