Trickle-down Manners | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Trickle-down Manners 

The closing-night ballet crowd is the worst.

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The other night, while out and about on a mission for an art experience to feed my soul, I arrived at an unexpected realization: The closing-night ballet crowd is the worst.

Citizens like these are the reason why people on the left fear what the Republican agenda will do to society. So bloated with self-virtue, they're not even capable of trickle-down manners—let alone economics.

Over the past several years, my interactions with the plié-loving crowd have consisted of Nutcracker matinées (conveniently timed for my little people) and a couple of Beer & Ballet events at Rose Wagner Center. In the whirlwind of mom-life, I could not recall the last time I attended an evening performance at the Capitol Theatre. Hence, my excitement when I realized my hubby and I would be child-free for the closing night of Ballet West's Carmina Burana.

As the warm glow of the chandeliers welcomed us into the lobby, it occurred to me I'd missed these fanciful nights out on the town. Woefully, this feeling quickly faded as I rubbed shoulders with society's crème de la crème. In line for the coat check, I viewed other patrons consistently pushing their way to the front and bombarding the single staff member working the counter, despite clearly seeing there was a line. Their actions not only lacked manners, but any awareness for the world around them.

I could not help but consider the major flaw of the (alleged) intent of our government's new proposed tax plan, as I witnessed the behavior of those around me. According to Gary Cohn, White House economic advisor, in a recent CNBC interview, "Everything in our tax plan is meant to encourage investment."

Cohn seems to be forgetting one key element though—the majority of the wealthy only invest in themselves.

My theory was confirmed when two women, adorned in high-end brands and sparkly jewels, pushed past me and my single coat to plop the coats of their entire party on the counter. I looked at the women's expressionless faces as they carried on in their conversation completely ignoring me, as well as all the other humans who had been waiting. What bothered me most had little to do with them cutting the line, and more the way in which they looked through me and the other patrons as though we didn't exist. It served as a stinging reminder that money doesn't buy class.

Poor etiquette carried through, as patrons pushed their way past others while handing their tickets over to theater staff or as they walked in to find their seat. In the years of matinées and less-formal performances, I could not recall a single time I wished I'd worn protective gear.

Regardless if they were born with the silver spoon or worked their way to the top, it appears as though the only thing these individuals are truly capable of trickling-down is disdain and arrogance for the more simple folk attempting to access the same luxuries.

As Richard Reeves explained in a May NPR interview, upper-middle class Americans don't share the American dream—they hoard it. In his aptly named book Dream Hoarders, Reeves argues the top 20 percent are guiltier of stacking the deck than their top one percent counterparts. In the words of Reeves, it is the "American upper-middle class, who, through various ways of rigging the market ... are essentially hoarding the American dream."

The current regime is attempting to sell the new tax plan as the best thing to happen to the American middle class since sliced bread—"It's gonna be huge." When the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) applied the tax-cut data based on share of income (versus household income), the numbers confirmed the the top five percent of Americans will be benefactors.

Between the top 20 percent hoarding the American dream, and the top five percent receiving over half the tax cuts by 2027, what chance do working and middle-class Americans have to catch-up?

In Reeves' interview, he noted how tax incentives operate behind a facade of a classless society, despite favoring wealthier Americans. "In the U.S., you have a class system that operates every bit as ruthlessly as the British class system, but under the veneer of classless meritocracy," he declared

True, a small percentage of the wealthy have philanthropic motives, but the bulk's money really just provides entitlement. And entitled nitwits are rarely known for their contribution to society.

Thus in the days ahead, as you review the new tax plan, consider the day-to-day behavior of the so-called upper crust of society and ask yourself: Can those incapable of the simple task of trickle-down manners really be tasked with sharing their wealth?

In my case, it took less than five minutes with the bourgeoisie to see why the new tax plan will be a complete bust for the non-wealthy. Though to be fair to closing-night ballet patrons, I have yet to scope out the audience at the opera.

Aspen Perry is a Salt Lake City-based aspiring author and self-proclaimed "philosophical genius." Send feedback to

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Aspen Perry

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