Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Should She Have the Baby?

Letters to advice columnists offer us a direct look inside the American mind. Sometimes we are appalled by what we see. Today’s letter to Carolyn Hax counts among them. Happily, Hax is up to the task and calls out the letter writer and her husband for their-- especially his-- appalling attitude. Toward what, you might ask: toward a pregnancy.

A 40 year old woman has just gotten pregnant. A lot of 40 year old women discover that they cannot get pregnant,  so she ought to be thrilled. In all likelihood it's her last chance at motherhood. Her husband ought to be thrilled. Neither of them are. We do not know exactly where the negativity is coming from, but it seems to be coming from the husband.

Since he has overtly stated that he does not want a child, pregnancy feels to Ashamed, as she dubs herself, to be a shameful betrayal. As I said, it’s appalling.

First, here is Ashamed’s letter:

I just found out I'm pregnant, and I'm not happy about it. Quick backstory: I'm about to turn 40 and recently married my boyfriend of six years. We almost didn't get married because he did not want to have kids and I was not prepared to say never.

After many (many) conversations and one near-breakup — a sad but kind one — he decided he'd rather be with me and would be open to having a child if it happened.

Well, it's happened and all I feel is dread. It's been a week and I can't seem to dig up one happy feeling. My husband says it's totally up to me what I want to do, though he's understandably concerned that I'm not more excited, and worried about proceeding if that doesn't change.

I feel absolutely disgusting for putting him through this. I'm scared about logistics and finances but mostly that I'll miss my current life and be miserable with a baby. I'm so stressed out that I can't believe there's any cortisol left in my body and I feel like I'm going down a shame spiral at a moment when I need a clear head. How can I get myself back on track to make this decision? Please help.

As Hax responds, what does any of this have to do with shame? After all, she continues, unless we are dealing with parthenogenesis the husband was an active participation in the baby making routine. But now, his message to the future mother of his child is: Honey, you're on your own.

Exasperated, Hax writes:

Ashamed. Of. What.

Seriously — what? And “absolutely disgusting”? How?! Obviously I don’t know you, but given just your brief letter, if you told me you ever spoke or even thought that way about someone you loved, then I wouldn’t believe you. Between these few lines I see a sensitive, conscientious person who’d take 10 burdens on herself before laying one on somebody else. (Yes?)

So have the same mercy on yourself, please, this once.

And let’s just get this out there: Your pregnancy was not immaculately conceived, was it? Your husband could have used contraception or gotten a vasectomy or not penetrated you. You are not “putting him through” this or anything else. Just stop.


Nicely put. She advises Ashamed to consult with a pregnancy counselor-- hopefully to guide her through the pregnancy.

She explains:

Next, call your OB/GYN’s office for names of pregnancy counselors. Since this topic has become repugnantly political, make sure you choose someone whose views align with your own; the last thing you need is cultural shame superimposed on your own.

Repugnantly political… yes, indeed it is. We note with dismay that this couple seems to believe that pregnancy is the new curse. I cannot imagine where they got the idea, but clearly, Ashamed has been trying valiantly to manage her husband’s politically correct thinking.

His attitude reeks of politics. He is telling her that she is totally autonomous and that the decision of whether or not to have the baby is hers and hers along. I cannot imagine where he got that idea, but hopefully Hax has disabused him of the thought.

Whatever side we take on the pro-life, pro-choice debate, we should perhaps get over the notion that a pregnant woman is in it by herself,  and the notion that pregnancy will ruin your life. True enough, having a baby will instantly make of a woman-- or should I say, female person-- a mother. But, is that the worst thing that can happen to her?

Clearly, Ashamed is a victim of today’s ideology. Or better, of a man who has drunk too deeply of it. It is sad, most especially to see a man who is about to become a father have no concern beyond his membership in a modern infertility cult.

Is She Failing at Therapy?

Everything therapist Lori Gottlieb says about Annie’s problem is eminently sensible. Annie is in therapy. Her company offers to pay for counseling and she has taken up the offer. She has spoken with her therapist about her work situation and the talks have helped her.

Now, she is anguished because she chokes up every time she wants to speak about her marriage. So, Gottlieb offers a set of instructions about how to open up to one’s therapist. All of them are sensible.

And yet, she is missing an essential point. Or, in fact, two essential points. See if you can see what they are:

I've taken advantage of it and have finally started seeing a counselor to address my anxiety and depression, which have worsened since moving halfway across the country for this job. Together we've come up with strategies to fix some of the aspects of my work environment that make me most anxious, and now I'm much calmer and happier at work.

However, I've been unable to talk with her about my relationship with my spouse,
which caused my anxiety and depression to spike even before the move and new job.

Every time I try to bring this up, I start crying and am literally unable to say words until I switch to a different topic.

I think part of this reluctance is the result of growing up in a divorced household and feeling like any marital strife is an unforgivable personal failing. I’m especially frustrated because I believe she could help me work through these issues, as everything she's suggested so far has made a noticeable improvement in my life.

I feel like I'm failing at therapy by not talking about my "real" problems with my counselor. How can I get over this mental block? Should I break things off and try again in a few months so I don't waste her time?

Denver, Colo.

Gottlieb ignores two salient points. First, the sessions are taking place within a work context. It makes sense that Annie feels comfortable talking about work matters. Nothing especially strange about that. If she believes that she is duty bound to use the sessions to talk about work, then bringing up marital difficulties might be outside the scope of treatment. She might feel this way without knowing that she feels this way. For all I know the therapist is completely engaged in conversations about work and less interested in non-work matters.

The second point is, Gottlieb places the onus entirely on Annie. She does not even hint that the therapist has some responsibility for the state of affairs. There are two people in any conversation. It is grossly unfair to suggest that the fault lies only with Annie. The fault more likely lies with the therapist. A good and competent therapist, upon seeing that her patient is breaking down, will ask what the problem is. She will question and probe the issue. She will not simply sit back and wait for the patient to be more forthcoming.

In addition, any conversation includes a myriad of subtle gestural clues. As you are conversing with someone  you are reading these clues. Depending on how sensitive you are, you will tailor your remarks accordingly. If a mere hint at a marital difficulty causes a therapist to grimace, the patient might justly choose to stop discussing the issue.

It is wrong for Annie to think that she has a mental block. In the most obvious case, a therapist can inquire as to her married life. A therapist can ask some questions. A therapist ought not to leave a woman crying and sputtering in her office without showing the minimum degree of interest. If the therapist does not show such concern, then clearly Annie is getting the message that the therapist believes that the topic is out of bounds.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

America's Conflict with China

It ought to be obvious to all, what with all the McCarthyite talk about Russian collusion, that America’s most important international adversary is China. According to Joel Kotkin, President Trump is the only president to challenge China mano a mano. Naturally, Democratic politicians and liberal commentators reject the notion that China is a threat. In some cases they are beholden to their paymasters in Beijing. In other cases they reflexively oppose anything that Trump is doing, no matter what.

And yet, Kotkin points out, more than a few Democrats have been sounding alarms about China. He recognizes that Trump’s diplomacy lacks a certain coherence, but still, Trump has chosen the right target:

In the 21st century how we cope with China will determine the future of American economic and political pre-eminence. One does not have to approve of President Trump’s haphazard diplomacy to support a tough policy. Historically many Democrats, including senators Sherrod Brown, Charles Schumer and Bernie Sanders, have backed measures to curb China’s economic assault.

Noah Feldman, writing in the left-leaning Democracy, labels our conflict with China a “cool war” as opposed to the Cold War that ensued after 1945. Unlike the Soviet Union, China’s economy has become globalized, increasing the risks from a too drastic break in trade tries.

China is vastly more powerful economically than Russia. Have you noticed that since Trump took office Vladimir Putin is looming smaller and smaller on the world stage?

China is working to produce a worldwide trading network, one that will cement its status as a world leader:

But China’s pragmatic nationalism, exemplified by expansion into the South China Sea, its Belt and Road initiative and stated desire to dominate virtually all high value-added industry, could threaten the very core of American prosperity if not challenged.

Today, Kotkin believes, China is not playing with a strong hand. Thus, it might be the right time for America to challenge its nascent hegemony.

With China’s economic and population growth rate slowing, its bloated real estate markets showing signs of implosion and industrial production has slowed to the lowest level since 2004, this may be the time to strike.

The country faces enormous internal problems as hundreds of millions of ordinary Chinese remain excluded from a system that favors both the very rich and the government-funded clerisy. China, notes one observer, itself is now developing “something resembling a permanent caste system.”

Has China been developing a permanent caste system? I do not know. At the least, we do know that over the past four decades China has moved more people from extreme poverty to the middle class life than any other nation has done in such a short period of time.

What should America do? First, we need to challenge trade deals that disadvantage the United States. And we should also redraw the Paris Climate Accords… because they are prejudicial to American interests.

China signed on to the accords, but only because they allow it to burn whatever fuels it wants for the next ten years. Since climate alarmists insist that we will all be dead in ten years, that feels like a good deal for China. Kotkin adds that the Paris accords exempted the European Union, point that had escaped me:

To gain back the initiative, we need to alter, as Trump suggests, not only current trade agreements, but also such things as the Paris Accords, which have exempted China, a larger GHG-emitter than the U.S. and the European Union together, from reducing reduce emissions until 2030. As Western countries de-industrialize, China can use coal, oil and gas to fuel its economic drive for predominance while the West engages in ever more drastic virtue-signaling. We need to make China focus on solving its own environmental and social challenges rather than seek to solve them at our expense.

I suspect that Kotkin is exaggerating when he worries that China will bring about a new authoritarian Dark Ages. The Dark Ages were feudal, not capitalistic. They did not practice free enterprise and pragmatic solutions. And, at a time, when children in schools no longer respect their teachers’ authority, it is probably not a great idea to continue to disparage authority:

We now face a powerful and highly nationalistic adversary that does not share a commitment to the rule of law and human rights. If unchecked, China rise to global supremacy could usher in a new authoritarian Dark Ages, shaped by Mandarins and supported by their intellectual and economic satraps, both here and around the world.

Human Sacrifice in Germany

Remember what happened in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve in 2015? Do you remember that large numbers of German women were molested and assaulted by Muslim migrant men? Do you recall the outcry for justice? If you do, you are in the minority.

The news from Germany, reported by Paulina Neuding, is that nearly all the men responsible for the attacks will not be prosecuted. You see, the Europe that allowed grooming gangs to function unmolested by the authorities in Rotherham, England has gotten into the habit of not prosecuting Muslims for sex crimes against local women. The British authorities turned a blind eye because they did not want to be called racists. The German authorities have gotten into the habit of ignoring or mislabeling crimes committed by Muslim migrants because it will make Angela Merkel’s open arms policy look bad.

And we know that Mutti Merkel cannot be allowed to look bad.

Neuding has the story:

The mass sexual assaults around Cologne’s main railway station on New Year’s Eve 2015 rocked Germany, not just because of their scale (police believe hundreds of men were involved) but because of the sense that news of the attacks was being suppressed, and its links to the migrant crisis then at its peak, denied. In response to public anger, Chancellor Angela Merkel was moved to promise that the crimes would be met with a ‘hard response from the state’.

So, Merkel promised a hard response. That will show them. The local authorities mobilized an extensive investigation:

In terms of resources, German authorities have delivered on Merkel’s promise. It has been followed by one of the most extensive criminal investigations in the history of modern Germany. More than 600 victims of sexual offenses have been questioned. Thousands of hours of CCTV footage have been reviewed with the help of so-called ‘super recognizers’ from Scotland Yard.

The result… three, count ‘em, three convictions:

But no more than three have been convicted for involvement in sexual assaults – an Algerian, Iraqi and Libyan national. According to a report by the German weekly Der Spiegel in March, these men had provided the prosecution with crucial evidence by taking pictures of themselves with their victims. One of them was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison, while the two others received suspended sentences.

These men were convicted because they had taken pictures of themselves assaulting local women. As for the rest, forget about it:

It is now safe to conclude that the vast majority of the men involved will walk free and be allowed to continue living in Germany, mingling with women on public transport and claiming welfare benefits, possibly for the rest of their lives.

The Cologne attacks took place at the height of the migration wave when authorities had lost control over the influx of migrants into the country. Many of those in positions of authority refused to accept any link between the attacks and the refugee crisis.

According to the first Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, the events should be regarded merely as a matter of ‘public order’. During a closed meeting, the leadership of the European Commission vowed to act as a ‘voice of reason’ and reject any suggestion that migration had anything to do with it.

‘A hard response’ from the German state meant that only a handful of suspects have been held accountable for the worst mass sexual attacks against women in peacetime Europe. In the end, it came down to their own selfies.

Black Vests Invade an Airport in France

Nothing very surprising here. The great nation of France has found itself inundated with refugees. They have camped out in the streets of Paris. They formed a settlement uncharitably called The Jungle in Calais.

France has responded by deporting some of them, often to their African nations of origin.

Evidently, those targeted for deportation are unhappy. They  chose to express their outrage by closing down a terminal at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy on Sunday.

Their demand was simple: they insist on receiving legal status to remain in France. As one protester was heard announcing: they have a right to be in France. It was a fair extension of the concept of a borderless world, where citizens of the world have the right to live wherever they want whenever they want. And to enjoy generous welfare handouts.

The Daily Mail has the story:

Hundreds of undocumented migrants occupied a terminal at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris yesterday to protest against Air France carrying out deportations and demanding they be given permanent residency.

Footage uploaded to Twitter shows some 500 members of the migrant support group La Chapelle Debout gathered in Terminal 2 of France's largest airport.  

The protesters called on Air France to 'stop any financial, logistical or political participation in deportations' and demanded a meeting with its leaders, as well as French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.  

Members of the organisation, which describes itself as the biggest union of undocumented immigrants in France, also call themselves GiletsNoirs - or black vests.
In the footage, one demonstrator can be heard saying into a megaphone: 'France does not belong to the French! Everyone has a right to be here!'

We will see what the notoriously weak-kneed government of President Emmanuel Macron does about this. The proper response would be to increase deportations, but that is probably wishful thinking.

Monday, May 20, 2019

How to Ask for a Raise

And now, for a change of pace, a post lacking in snark and sarcasm and criticality. This post will not emphasize the many ways that people get things wrong, but will show instead how to get them right.

The issue is: asking for a raise. As you know, the conventional wisdom dictates that you should assert yourself, lean in and be upfront with your demands. You probably know by now that this strategy does not work. Even before Michelle Obama made it acceptable to think the thought, I argued against the approach. We should reject the half-assed idea that people get ahead when they indulge in macho posturing. Neither men nor women should do it… no matter what anyone told you.

Of course, those who are propagating this nonsense do not understand its philosophical underpinnings. These derive from the notion that Self is what really matters, that we should express it, assert it, and that we should not care how it looks to other people. It’s all about how we feel about ourselves, not how it looks to other people. This is genuinely bad advice. It is a prescription for trouble.

Charlotte Cowles explains the problems in New York Magazine:

When asking an employer for money, the conventional wisdom is to demand the highest amount you can possibly say out loud (or type in an email) with a straight face — plus more. The worst that can happen is they say no, right? As my friend Jess once told me, “If they don’t laugh at you when you name a number, then you didn’t ask for enough.”

But, that approach can easily backfire:

But that approach can also backfire — sometimes spectacularly, as it did for Anya, 33, who recently put in for a modest raise at a company where she’d been doing contract work for two years. “I’d always gotten positive feedback, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask,” she said. But when she did, the company didn’t just decline. It launched an in-depth evaluation of the revenue her work was generating, determined it wasn’t enough, and canceled her contract entirely.

As the example makes clear, what matters is not how you feel or what you want. What matters is what you have contributed. That is, what value you have added to the enterprise. This means: if you want a raise your work must be able to speak for you. If your work cannot sell itself, you will probably not be getting the raise. Being too arrogant, placing your own whims over the company good, cannot work.

But there is more. If you want more money you need to have a sense of the labor market, of the market value of your work. And, of course, you should know how well or poorly your company is doing.

Cowles quotes a specialist who puts it in good perspective:

Thorough research can nip a lot of these problems in the bud, says Alexandra Dickinson, a career and negotiation expert who leads membership strategy at SoFi, a personal finance company. “Do your due diligence about both yourself and the marketplace,” she explains. “You can start with salary websites, but I also recommend talking to at least six people — three women and three men — who are familiar with the work you’re considering and can offer advice on what you should ask for.”

Then, determine how much your work is worth to the people you’re approaching. “If you can put a dollar amount on your sales or other accomplishments, great,” Dickinson says. “But otherwise, look at the value you’ve created for your team, your manager, and your company. Also, consider the value that you helped save. For example, maybe a colleague left and their role didn’t get filled so you picked up the slack.” The more specifically you can quantify your strengths, with actual stats and examples, the more solid your case will be. (For example, Anya might have mitigated her situation by soliciting more direct, quantitative feedback from her employer before asking for a raise — although in her defense, her employer should have offered it to her, too.)

You should not rely on your sense of entitlement or your ability to self-assert. You should approach the task of asking for a raise as you would any a job. You should prepare for the meeting. And, note well, Dickinson recommends that you talk to a half dozen people, to seek out advice. You need not take all of the advice but you should certainly not wing it or go with your gut.

And finally, keep in mind, one expert suggested, that you are all on the same team. Get over the tendency to see it as a struggle between antagonists. Get over the notion that you are an underpaid prole working for a capitalist patriarch who wants only to exploit you. Get over the ideological narrative that makes you into enemies.  

Cowles quotes Claire Wasserman:

“I urge people to approach negotiations as a social experiment,” says Wasserman. “They’re an opportunity to observe. And remember, both sides are on the same team. You each need to be willing to give up something in order to get something, which means that you each need to know your bottom line.”

Camille Paglia Speaks

The interview is two years old but Camille Paglia’s insights stand up well.If you missed them they are worth reading.

Recently, Paglia was excoriated for having expressed the wrong opinion about transgenderism. Her antagonists called for her firing from her academic job. And, as you know, the president of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia responded by telling them all to stuff it. Regrettably, his counts as one of the few academic leaders who has been willing to stand up to the mob.

Paglia begins by calling out feminists for imposing a narrative where men are oppressors and women are victims:

What I am saying throughout my work is that girls who are indoctrinated to see men not as equals but as oppressors and rapists are condemned to remain in a permanently juvenile condition for life. They have surrendered their own personal agency to a poisonous creed that claims to empower women but has ended by infantilizing them. Similarly, boys will have no motivation to mature if their potential romantic partners remain emotionally insecure, fragile, and fearful, forever looking to parental proxies (like campus grievance committees or government regulators) to make the world safe for them.

According to Paglia, feminism has made women emotionally insecure, weak and vulnerable. One might say that the #MeToo movement has portrayed women as less than strong and empowered.

Paglia’s remarks about the worthless and unaccomplished Hillary Clinton are well worth attention… especially since they echo remarks that I have often made myself. Better yet, she calls out Hillary and other feminist leaders for defending that notable sexual predator, Bill Clinton:

Hillary was handed job after job but produced no tangible results in any of them—except of course for her destabilization of North Africa during her rocky tenure as secretary of state. And for all her lip service to women and children, what program serving their needs did Hillary ever conceive and promote? She routinely signed on to other people’s programs or legislative bills but spent the bulk of her time in fundraising and networking for her own personal ambitions. Beyond that, I fail to see how authentic feminism can ever be ascribed to a woman who turned a blind eye to the victims of her husband’s serial abuse and workplace seductions. The hypocrisy of feminist leaders was on full display during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which incontrovertibly demonstrated Bill Clinton’s gross violation of basic sexual harassment policy. Although I had voted for him twice, I was the only feminist at the time who publicly condemned Clinton for his squalid and unethical behavior with an intern whose life (it is now clear) he ruined. Gloria Steinem’s slick casuistry during that shocking episode did severe damage to feminism, from which it has never fully recovered.

And, last but not least, Paglia suggests that feminists should have been able to recognize the good intentions of their pro-life adversaries:

Contemporary American feminism has distorted and desensitized itself by its inability or refusal to recognize the ethical weight of the pro-life position, which it routinely mischaracterizes as "anti-woman." In contrast, I wrote (again in Vamps & Tramps): "Modern woman has become an agent of Darwinian triage. It is or should be ethically troubling: abortion pits the stronger against the weaker, and only one survives." The inflammatory abortion issue has consumed far too much of feminism, to the point of monomania. I used to be a contributing member of Planned Parenthood, until I realized that it had become a covert arm of the Democratic party. If Planned Parenthood is as vital to American women’s health as feminist leaders claim, then why can’t it be removed from the violent political arena altogether and fully funded by wealthy liberal donors? Let the glitterati from Hollywood to Manhattan step up to the plate and put their money where their mouths are.

Strangely enough, associating female sexuality with procreation means that you hate women. As many people have noted, the two sides of the debate ought to find a middle ground, a mean between the extremes. As of now they seem not to want to do so… they prefer to play it for political advantage.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The $91,000,000 Toy

It’s impossible to read the news from Christie’s auction last week and not conclude that some people have too much money. As you have no doubt heard, a stainless steel replica of a toy rabbit just sold for $80,ooo,000… that would be $91,000,000 with commission. The artist, by name of Jeff Koons has now become the highest priced living artist. For having convinced the art world that a toy is a work of art.

As for the too much money angle, one believes as a general rule that too much taxation inhibits economic growth. Taking money from those who would invest it in productive enterprise and giving it to bureaucrats who will spend it on God-knows-what seems not to be good policy. And, yet, gross income disparities are destabilizing. And they are even more destabilizing when those who possess grand fortunes burn their money as though it were so much trash. Such is the case of what happened at Christie’s.

It reminds one of the old native American custom called potlatch, where competing tribal leaders burned their possessions in order to signify how powerful and important they were. It’s amusing to compare potlatch with the bonfire of the vanities, a purification ritual whereby Florentine nobility destroyed possessions to show how godly they were. The other historical analogy is the Golden Calf in the Book of Exodus. Around it the followers of Moses danced in a frenzy... hoping to return to pagan idolatry.

It makes sense for some of our born-again Socialists to declare that some people have too much money. They do not recognize that most of those who have massive fortunes have non-liquid assets. And that said assets would lose value if the government decided to confiscate them. And yet, today’s hyperrich ought to understand that they are not going to save their fortunes by giving much of it away in charity. The disparities are simply too great. Charity is merely a way to assuage guilt and to guard against confiscation.

We do not yet know who bought the Koons sculpture. We only know that the buyer’s agent was art dealer Robert Mnuchin, a man whose son is currently Secretary of the Treasury.

We do know that the art world is thrilled at the Koons event, because art critics have been touting it as a surpassing exemplar of contemporary art. If so, it is also a sign that the art world has merely become an investment vehicle indulged by people who have too much money and no ability to appreciate art. Buyers who display this stuff proudly in their homes think that they are thereby showing their aesthetic sophistication. They are in fact demonstrating that they know nothing about art. People would laugh at their philistine tastes, were it not for the fact that the piece of trash they bought for $10,000 dollars is now being sold for 10 million dollars. It makes them genius investors.

Laurel Wamsley offers us the art world dictum on the Koons:

The work is considered the holy grail of Koons works among certain collecting circles, and the bunny's allure was burnished by the fact that Newhouse was its longtime owner," Artnet writes. "It also received an extraordinary pre-sale display at Christie's with a custom-built room that perched the rabbit on a pedestal surrounded by lighting mimicking a James Turrell installation."

In its lot essay, Christie's described Rabbit as melding "a Minimalist sheen with a naïve sense of play":

"It is crisp and cool in its appearance, yet taps into the visual language of childhood, of all that is pure and innocent. Its lack of facial features renders it wholly inscrutable, but the forms themselves evoke fun and frivolity, an effect heightened by the crimps and dimples that have been translated into the stainless steel from which it has been made. ... The steel surface of the titular bunny initially appears smooth and balloon-like, the forms reduced to some abstract, Platonic ideal."

It takes your breath away. The great minds of the art world indulge in the most vacuous and vapid rhetorical flourishes, throwing in a reference to some serious philosophy that they do not understand.

Besides, the article continues, the Koons rabbit is a cultural icon. A version appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Doesn't that make it great floating sculpture?

It’s pathetic.It’s a sign of a civilization that is eating itself alive. There is no good way to interpret this.

Among the more interesting angles on the Koons phenomenon Allison Schrager writes about the market angle in the New York Times. Her point is simple: the more the art market becomes a domain where billionaires come to play-- because where else can they waste so much money so quickly-- the lower echelons of the market, the world of young artists and young dealers and young collectors… is falling apart. No one wants to invest at the low end, because they have gotten the impression that they have been priced out of the market.

Art collecting has always been an exclusive activity, but the world of contemporary art, in particular, has become dominated in recent years not by the 1 percent — the millionaires — but by the super-wealthy billionaires of the 0.01 percent.

This growing inequality threatens to upend how the market works. The small and midsize galleries that have long supported and nurtured unknown artists are finding it difficult to survive in the winner-take-all economy of contemporary art, meaning the next Andy Warhol or Donald Judd, who rose through the ranks of the gallery system, might never be discovered.

She continues:

The art market reflects and magnifies trends in the larger economy. Recovering even faster than G.D.P., annual sales in the American market have more than doubled since the global financial crisis. According to a 2019 report published by Art Basel and UBS, in 2018 art sales reached nearly $30 billion, compared with just over $12 billion in 2009.

But these numbers mask a serious problem: A small number of large galleries and artists took in most of those sales. Art that cost more than $1 million accounted for 40 percent of the market but just 3 percent of transactions. The disparity is most severe in the contemporary market, where living artists’ work is sold out of art galleries. In 2018, sales from the top 20 living artists accounted for 64 percent of the market. Bigger galleries, the top 5 percent in terms of turnover, accounted for more than 50 percent of sales. Sales at smaller galleries declined over the past few years.

As for the cause for this state of affairs, some blame it on capitalism. Others blame it on monetary policies that have flooded the world with money, often run off by printing presses. The money does not get distributed equitably in society. It has little to do with wealth creation and more to do with forestalling economic doom. Thus, it seems to congeal at the top in the hands of the very few while the many look on in amazement at sums that they cannot comprehend.

And the many look on in horror as people waste massive amounts of money in order to show off their power and prestige.