One of our readers, C.V., recently sent me links to two articles that I think are quite timely. One, written by documentary filmmaker and entertainment dynasty scion, Abigail Disney, is below.
It’s enlightening, thought-provoking…and succinct. Read it HERE.
Ms. Disney writes with refreshing candor and rare self-awareness. She presents a chessboard of competing agendas–some psychological, some political, all very human–and recounts without undue emotion what she’s experienced and how it has affected not just her, but the wealthy as a class.
Note: being born into wealth is one thing. Having a brand name for a last name is quite another. There’s just no place to hide, and I can’t imagine what that was like.
Her observations are objective but not clinical. Her informed and not-so-subtle push for tax reform–as well as a little self-reflection from other members of the billionaire class–is welcome.
So, enjoy. I’m looking forward to your comments.
And thank you, C.V. I hope you’re safe and well.
8 thoughts on “Old Money: Abigail Disney Speaks Out”
“… if you are a fish, it is hard to describe water, much less to ask if water is necessary, ethical, and structured the way it ought to be.” -Abigail Disney. What a great quote.
The Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.
“…philanthropy is good, but too much of it is unseemly and performative,” could be considered a mantra, however, “…marry people “of your own class” to save yourself from the complexity and conflict that comes with a broad gulf in income, assets, and, therefore, power unfortunately, may have roots in what most “plutocrats” are not willing to part with.
She seems to have a lot of angst and to me there are things unsaid. Perhaps if she’d been taught more ‘stewardship’ it might have been different.
There is a wonderful advertisement for Patek Philippe wristwatches which says that one never really owns a (Patek Philippe), one merely looks after it for the next generation.
The British aristocracy, while they’ve had some wasters and bounders, they have also had families who have preserved more than just the money, and that’s the point. They’ve preserved the titles – first, the estates and then all that goes with them. That ‘all’ might include a lot of people, some deeply loyal and rooted in the estates themselves. Wonderful examples are the Dukes of Devonshire and Westminster. Also Earl Spencer.
Whatever else they might do, they are simply acting as caretakers with the hope that they’ll leave everything in a slightly better state than when they inherited. Then the baton is passed. (It’s only Harry-boy who seems to find it all so burdensome.)
Wonderful post David! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! JanB
Abigail has a unique and provocative perspective. It’s interesting how she felt guilty being flown across the country alone in the family jet, whereas her parents had no such qualms.
I sometimes wonder if she would have had greater impact on the world by allowing the stock to compound a few more decades before giving it away. She sold a lot of her Disney stock early and there has been massive appreciation since Eisner took the helm.
It’s a minor point compared to the issue of ignoring financial suffering while being in a position to ease the suffering, t I suspect that the new rich are less inclined to consider the plight of others. The memory of less comfy times may be too fresh. There is a good point in the article: How much is enough? Is wealth addictive? Does increasing wealth become a compulsion or an obsession?
Now the point: Is wealth enough to classify a family as solidly upper class? Are not values an essential element? Raw money does not determine social class. Example: Film-industry-folk may accumulate extreme assets while remaining ill-mannered bigots living garish life-styles. Alright, that was obvious. Less recognized is this: less perceptive people consider the Joseph Kennedy family as upper class while they are simply not accepted everywhere. Values are different, perhaps subtly, but clearly to those who have old values and standards of behavior.
Does not money come with the responsibility to use it also for some betterment in addition to that of self and family? Is this A. Disney’s message?
Good point, J. My quick answer: no, money is never enough to change classes. It takes cash, exposure, education, ethics, and time. Thanks for sharing. – BGT