The Grand Illusion: Private Jets, Private Schools, Private Lives

Private jets, private schools, private lives. Private is the mote money buys. Private, in the new American economic reality, means transcendence. Transcendence, in American Philosophy, once the hallmark of reading and learning, contemplation and the labor to find the self amongst the many, self-reliance, can now be bought. Private means mobility, the ability to move through space unimpeded by the harangue of the less fortunate. Private means not having to dirty one’s hands — or soul — with the problems of the many — unemployment, hunger and poverty, ill-equipped schools, the malaise of hopelessness. Private means hope — the hope that I will gain while others lose. To live in private means that others will not.

In To Reach Simple Life of Summer Camp, Lining Up for Private Jets, Christine Haughney reports that, “Now, even as the economy limps along, more of the nation’s wealthier families are cutting out the car ride and chartering planes to fly to summer camps. One private jet broker, Todd Rome of Blue Star Jets, said his summer-camp business had jumped 30 percent over the last year.” Why hang with the rest us? Just sidestep all of the garbage. Why have long waits when it’s more efficient to simply fly over all of it — the heat, the stifling highway stops and their smelly bathrooms, wet floors, loud hand dryers, tolls and people that still can’t tell the difference between an E-Pass lane and a cash lane.

“At Sullivan County Airport in Bethel, N.Y.,” reports Haughney, “roughly 40 percent of recent flights have carried families heading to summer camp. Officials at Laconia Municipal Airport in Gilford, N.H., and Moultonborough Airport in Moultonborough, N.H., reported similar numbers.”

Are these the jets Obama is talking about? Are these the perks the Republicans don’t want to give up? Are the Republicans — and the Tea Party — fighting to ensure that  Private becomes a strong and permanent demarcation in our society, a new social order, one that travels on private jets, attends exclusive camps, followed by elite private prep schools and colleges? Sure we’ll let in a few faces that aren’t like ours, just to look as if we’re into multiculturalism, but please, private is the perfect way to travel through life hassle free.

This new Private world order is forcing us to adjust, re-evaluate, tread lightly since money is power and power can be wielded against anyone, for any reason, and if you’re one of the less fortunate, then, well, you may get screwed. “The popularity of private-plane travel is forcing many high-priced camps, where seven-week sessions can easily cost more than $10,000, to balance the habits of their parents against the ethos of simplicity the camps spend the summer promoting.”

From the budget negotiations and the drama around the debt ceiling, to the hiring of specialized tutors for prep school darlings to ensure entry into elite institutions, to tax shelters and the readily available servicing of any whim, any desire provided you have the money to pay for it — see DSK, for instance, ironically a part of the socialist party in France — what we have here is a view of the other side of the looking glass. We’ve come through, like Alice, to another world. In this world, the majority is left out; in this world, transcendence still means sweat; in this world, though, for just a few, transcendence can be purchased — as can politicians and the perks that go along with the buying of souls.

In this new world order, Private means a loss of empathy; it is the loss of a humanity. Private is synonymous with a false sense of self; it is a skewed view of the world; it is an illusion, the grandest of all. Private is the false belief that one can buy out of suffering, a moral high ground that abdicates responsibility for one’s actions. We’re in deep do-do.

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