In the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, the American rich walked tall. They dressed the part. Top hats, canes, tails, spats, you name it. They built glorious mansions for all the world to see. They traveled in style, and did so publicly. They were profiled in popular magazines. Indeed, they were idolized and studied and emulated.
Today, the rich are different. They wear jeans and sneakers and ratty-looking sweaters. If they build large homes, they make sure they are inaccessible and nearly invisible. They talk like the people. They affect the way of the common folk. They pretend to be like everyone else. If they are famously rich, they give vast sums away, sometimes to dubious causes. They even call for taxes on themselves.
What’s changed? Here’s one theory: Property rights are weak today ..
The more property is vulnerable to looting by any source, the more people have the incentive to hide their wealth ..
This also explains what have come to be called “self-hating billionaires,” who conspicuously parade their attachment to welfare ideology and redistributionist politics. It’s all an effort of self-protection in times when property rights are so insecure. Better make a display of your disregard for wealth than tempt the state to disgorge you of all you own.