Lion of the Blogosphere

Another post about the top-out-of-sight

The key characteristic of the top-out-of-sight class is multiple generations of private school attendance. And we are talking about private schools attended by children of wealthy people, not crappy Catholic schools. Generally, in order for a person to be top-out-of-sight, he must have attended private school, and so did his parents, and so do his children.

The top-out-of-sight are not famous and do not have high-visibility jobs, because they have to be out of sight. Out-of-sight should not be taken too literally. Many of the top-out-of-sight are hiding in plain sight in places such as Manhattan.

The top-out-of-sight insulate themselves from proles. For example, if they live in New York City, then they live in a doorman building and they avoid subways and buses.

Philanthropy is an important part of their lives and all top-out-of-sights must count philanthropy among their major hobbies.

They socialize nearly entirely with other people from the top-out-of-sight class.

Howard Hughes is not an example of top-out-of-sight, because the top-out-of-sight are not weirdos; they are very social, but they only socialize with their own class so if you lead a middle-class life you will never bump into them in a social setting. Hughes was also too famous in his reclusivity to be out-of-sight. Amanda Brooks is a better example of someone who might be top-out-of-sight were it not for the New York Times article enhancing her visibility.

They do something that looks like work. This is not times past when rich people did nothing besides attend parties. The work they do may even be real work that pays good money, although it would be some work that’s respectable or self-actualizing. A top-out-of-sight person wouldn’t work as a dentist. They might work in finance (maybe hedge funds or venture capital, but never as an accountant or stockbroker), the arts, philanthropy, or teach at a quality private school.

If they attend religious services, it’s at a mainline Protestant church. There are now some Jews in this class, and they only attend Reform synagogues. Orthodox Judaism and evangelical Christianity are prole.

Blacks are never top out-of-sight, not because the top-out-of-sight are racist (in fact, they primarily voted for Obama, overwhelming so in the northeast), but because black people identify with being black, and to be in the top-out-of-sight class, you must identify only as a member of that class.

They summer someplace where there aren’t any proles around. Never at Seaside Heights, probably nowhere on the Jersey Shore at all because the entire Jersey Shore is very accessible to proles. Nantucket is a good place to find the top-out-of-sight; the only way to get there is by airplane or a long ferry ride, so that keeps away the proles as well as the middle-class strivers.

One does not have to be super-rich to be top-out-of-sight. At the bottom end of the top-out-of-sight, you just need to be able to afford private school for two children plus incidental expenses like vacations. Because the top-out-of-sight can have jobs of some sort (although never the kind where a boss yells at them and they have to punch a timecard), the amount of inherited money they need is not as high as commonly assumed. Their social capital allows them to get paid a lot more for their work than you might think given their lack of true value creation.

The top-out-of-sight are not showy people; they don’t flaunt their wealth with huge houses, Rolls-Royces, and other unnecessary bling. In fact, to be true top-out-of-sight, you need to be slightly embarrassed about your wealth. The top-out-of-sight shop at exclusive stores not so they can buy merchandise that will impress people with how rich they are, but rather so they can avoid the proles who shop at regular stores.

If you’re a CEO of a major corporation, then you have too much visibility to be out-of-sight and you’re merely upper class.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 23, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Posted in Wealth

107 Responses

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  1. Can Hindu Indians be top-out-of-sight? What about secular Indians?

    Blog Raju

    May 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    • In India, sure. In the western world, maybe after three or more generations. An immigrant or their children can never be TOOS.
      I’ve never met any obviously religious brown UC people.


      May 23, 2013 at 9:16 PM

  2. I wouldn’t mind being low or middle-out-of-sight. I can’t stand going out in public and having to endure being around most people. The US has too many freakazoids who belong in prison or some other institution. Since many people who should be completely out-of-sight and institutionalized are free to roam, I feel like institutionalizing myself from these freakazoids. The less crazy people are annoying as well with their overindulgence in cheap crap, rude behaviors, inconsideration, extreme tackiness, lack of foresight, and on and on. Give me 1 acre, a tiny house, and a modest trust fund and I’d a happy camper away from the side-show freaks.


    May 23, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    • Les Etats-Unis Merdeux

      Nicolai Yezhov

      May 23, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      • I prefer ‘Vereinigte Staaten von Scheisse’.


        May 23, 2013 at 9:54 PM

  3. Pretty astute observation. I’ve run into this subset of the population once in a while, primarily while attending undergrad at an elite liberal arts school in the Northeast.

    Their lifestyle is not cheap given the private school tuition, nice cars, tastefully decorated home, charity contributions, and second home on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Fisher Island, or discrete tucked away corners in the Hamptons. Family needs to generate at least $300k in annual income. Many times the grandparents chip in for the kids’ schooling.

    I personally found them somewhat vapid. I played lacrosse with a number of their brats kids, and those guys had little scruples. As a kid from Upstate who attended a middle class public school, I took a lot of crap. Totally did not fit in.

    This class is in danger if: 1) donations can’t be written off; 2) a significant inheritance tax is introduced. Republicans, if they actually had a brain, would negotiate with Obama to introduce these for something that they love as the top of the class still worship JFK.


    May 23, 2013 at 3:40 PM

  4. I do have a first degree cousin who is the chairman of an UK hedge fund. He did not inherit any money. He made his own fortune. But he owns private jet. His family is not out of public eyes. But he is top out of sight for his own relatives now. He only socializes with people with simimar wealth. Even his own parents has not be able to see him over 3 years now.
    We used to be close during college years. Now he only has bad words about me. He claimed only losers like me will emigrate to USA.

    He is out of sight for me now. But I do not care about him either. I am happy with my own life. The truth is that myself do not socialize my own family very much either. Happy to be away from most people.


    May 23, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    • You describe someone who is nouveau riche, not top out-of-sight.

      • Yes, nouveau riche. That would describe me brother — Late 40s, Chief Medical Director for a large health insurer; $500K salary per year; Philly suburbs; married 21 years to college sweetheart (a low-maintenance, non-working, optometrist, stay-at-home mom to two pre-teen boys); not flashy; solid investor; self-made multi-millionaire. My brother & sister-in-law grew up solidly mid-middle class (at best).

        E. Rekshun

        May 23, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      • “nouveau riche” is the trademark of my family clans. My grandparents were nouveau riche themself with strong political background during world war 2. They were personal friend of Chinese President. In 50s, they lost every thing and moved to totally different country with zero penny. Yet, they did again adn became prominent economical/political leaders in that country. Then some of my ancles and aunts are nouveau riche too. In my generation, three out of five descendants from this grandparents made into nouveau riche again. The one inherited every thing actually loss it all.


        May 24, 2013 at 12:13 PM

  5. Dear Lion of Blogosphere,
    how would you comment this post by Steve Sailer:
    Your F.r.

    Florida resident

    May 23, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    • I don’t know anything about Boston, but that place sounds like Breezy Point, Queens, which is high-prole and not even middle-class.

    • I nominate Nahant as the host city for 2014 Urban Beach Week.

      Blog Raju

      May 24, 2013 at 2:50 PM

  6. Social skill is critical when you are at bottom since you depend on others for survival. Once you are at top, others depend you for survival. Top out of sight can afford autonomy.


    May 23, 2013 at 3:56 PM

  7. This sounds largely made up


    May 23, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    • I second that.


      May 23, 2013 at 10:15 PM

  8. If a family took on an upper middle class job, say medicine or big law, for three generations, would they be top out of sight by the third generation? Three generations of fairly successful professionals might be able to attain the lifestyle you describe (although probably not sizeable charity donations or a big house in nantucket), but each generation must take on a high paying job in order to replicate the lifestyle, or it’s over.

    I feel a net worth 15 million is needed for true top-out-of-sight-dom. At that level of wealth, even if one takes on a middle class paying job, the passive income from wealth should pay for private school of two kids, a big house, vacations, and then some to help make the wealth grow steadily.


    May 23, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    • You need to leave behind the old-time thinking that wealth = transferable investments. In the modern economy, wealth = human capital.

      • Human capital alone can never be the basis for true wealth and the autonomy that comes with it. Top biglaw partners or neurosurgeons have a hard time turning their human capital into equity. They make a lot, but they still have to show up to work every day.

        Your focus ont he trappings of the old wasp elite is a bit outdated I think. I would argue that the true marker of being top-out-of-sight is the carefree attitude of never truly having had to worry about one’s livelihood accompanied by markers of allegiance to whatever the “aristocratic” values of the day are. Everything else flow from this fundamental fact. The biglaw partner may be able to retire to freedom someday, but he’s indelibly marked by the decades of being at someone’s beck and call, unlike those who were born at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy.

        The rich really are different from you and me.


        May 23, 2013 at 6:55 PM

      • Who pays for that human capital? Money.
        True, the economy has changed. But it still runs on money.


        May 23, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      • In the modern economy, wealth = human capital.

        Ah, sex slaves.

        There’s nothing finer except snorting a line of Colombia’s finest. With sex slaves.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        May 24, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    • If you are a doctor , no matter how exclusive the practice is, you have to deal with proles all the time so you can never be toos.


      May 23, 2013 at 7:38 PM

  9. My great grand parents were top out of sight on my Dad’s side. The wealth came from mining and publishing and wool. My grandfather went to the Catholic Eton, that is, Stonyhurst even though he was an American, a New Yorker. My Dad attended debutante balls in NYC because his uncle was married to Marshall Field’s daughter (Field is one of the ten richest Americans ever in real dollars). His family summered in New Hampshire.

    You should do a post on the nouveau pauvre. There are peers who drive cabs in England. It is a very small class which Fussell, an Angelino, would know nothing about.

    Nicolai Yezhov

    May 23, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    • This is also a very interesting topic.
      People who were born rich and then lost it (opposite of nuveau riche).
      The problems they face are probably something you’d wish only on your worst enemies.
      If they have rich or powerful contacts, they may be able to avoid the worst.
      If not, or if they are unpopular, than they need to go live in the ghetto.


      May 23, 2013 at 7:20 PM

      • Whit Stillman is a decent example of this class, isn’t he? Granted, he’s above the cab driver level.


        May 26, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    • Les nouveaux pauvres fit in nowhere as the non-rich disgust them but the rich are disgusted by them,

      Nicolai Yezhov

      May 23, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    • In Japan, all noblemen were supposed to pay an annual tax according to rank, and if a nobleman was to declare bankruptcy the title was forfeit.


      May 23, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      • Just a cadet branch. American Astors died out with Vince Astor. His thrice married widow Brooke did very well till her son (from 1st hubby) skimmed the still sizable Astor money.

        British Astors are the main branch.


        May 25, 2013 at 10:57 AM

  10. There once was a top-out-of-sight from Nantucket ….


    May 23, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    • I hear it’s been bought out by the obnoxious hedge fund people.


      May 23, 2013 at 7:21 PM

  11. Heartiste dislikes both the poor and the rich. What a misanthrope. BTW, there are tons of mega rich exclusive parts of the Jersey Shore. North LBI comes to mind. There used to be a saying to paraphrase, “when driving on to the island, the rich turn south, and the richer turn north”.


    May 23, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    • I didn’t know that about Heartiste. That kind of seems off topic.

      I agree the northern part of LBI is fairly wealthy but it is not top out of sight. Having a five million dollar vacation home does not make one top out of sight.

      de Broglie

      May 23, 2013 at 9:07 PM

  12. The class above the top-out-of-sight is the top-in-sight (U.S. Presidents, first ladies, Oprah, Mother Teresa, Princess Di) anyone who is beloved and worshipped by enough people to have real power.


    May 23, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    • But they are more like highly paid spokespeople and their status do not get transferred to their progeny. Oprah will have no heirs. Mother Teresa’s relatives are not sharing any status of her.

      It is just a show which ends when the curtain falls, but the toos domination will pass to future.


      May 24, 2013 at 5:09 AM

      • Oprah doesn’t have heirs but she passes on her status to other members of her race who share copies of her genes (i.e. Electing the first black president & first lady, opening a school in Africa that allows hundreds of poor black girls just like oprah get an ivy league education). Oprah also has half-nieces and half-nephews.


        May 24, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      • Oprah is not grooming any of the gaggle of half-whatevers to succeed her or her empire. It will die with her.

        One or two of her african alumnae will go to an ivy league school but at best will end up as a us rep for some hellhole country. Not relevant.

        And you are silent about teresa’s relatives.


        May 24, 2013 at 1:35 PM

      • I think the entire first graduating class of Oprah’s African school is attending elite schools. And who cares whether Oprah’s empire lives on after she’s gone; she used her status to elect the first black president. That is a historic achievement that brings her entire race to a whole new level of status and self-respect, because for the first time in human history, the most powerful man on the planet is black and so is his wife. That’s the equivalent of passing on a hundred empires.


        May 24, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      • Smartandwise says “Oprah’s empire lives on after she’s gone; she used her status to elect the first black president. That is a historic achievement that brings her entire race to a whole new level of status and self-respect, .” ——

        The meme that Obama’s presidency is ‘historic’ is only exceeded in exaggeration by the notion that this presidency will elevate African Americans in status over the long run. It will not. One might imagine Jackson’s presidency to be historic for many of the reasons Obama’s is touted, the first Tennessean president. The first Hillbilly president. The first Redneck president. But, that presidency didn’t change the nation’s perceptions of Tennessee, Hillbillies or Rednecks in any meaningful sense.

        Jackson’s presidency was historic but not because of who Jackson was. Same will be the case with Obama. He hasn’t and won’t be able to elevate the African American race. Only collective higher performance by this group can accomplish such a feat.


        May 25, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    • Having power, influence, and being universally loved doesn’t automatically raise ones social class. The people you’ve mentioned are high prole, at best.

      Obama – black affirmative action beneficiary who pals around with aging frat boys and ex-crack dealers
      George W. Bush – Can you say “prole drift?”
      Clinton – There’s a reason he’s referred to as the first black president.
      Bush Sr. – Upper class but got to the White House by riding the coattails of Ronald Reagan.
      Ronald Reagan – Paul Fussell took serious issue with Reagan. He noted that his suits make him look like he’s dressed like “a prole setting off for church.”

      Oprah – black, childhood promiscuity, enamored with people like Beyonce, runs a cable channel whose target demographic is white prole women.

      Mother Teresa – Catholic, nuff said.

      Princess Di – Killed because tabloid reading proles couldn’t get enough of her


      May 24, 2013 at 8:42 AM

      • It doesn’t matter if many of these people look, act, or are loved by proles. There’s hardly a person in America who wouldn’t return their phone call. They have access to ANY social group they want any time they want. Not so for 99.9% of the TOOS. Social class is defined by who you get to hang with. These people can hang with ANYONE.

        And Oprah targets women who are interested in new age spirituality and self-actualization (her motto is live your best life, follow your true calling-the thing that lights you up) which is more SWPL than prole.


        May 24, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      • Yes, Obama had the door to the Ivy League opened because he was black.
        Yet how is that any different than those who had daddy open it for them.

        Either way, someone else had to help you.

        At least Obama excelled once he got in, graduating top of his class at Harvard Law and Editor of the Law Review. That is not being a slouch.

        If “social class” means NOT doing something on your own, is it really that impressive. It appears to those who have no ability and were given everything they can’t earn on their own, that is all they have.

        D Brooks

        May 24, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      • Oprah targets women who are interested in prole books like ‘The Secret.’

        Social class isn’t just about who you do or can socialize with. If that were the case, rich prole couples like Jackie and David Siegel would have been able to buy their way into the upper class.


        May 24, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      • David Siegel doesn’t get invited to the white house, receive honorary Oscars or get to give commencement speeches at Harvard like Oprah does. Now maybe behind her back elites role their eyes about her prole audience,, but to her face they bow down and worship.


        May 24, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      • @D Brooks

        I didn’t say Obama is a slouch; I said he’s a prole. While I’m no fan of Obama, he is emblematic of what high proles can accomplish in life if they’re born with a high IQ, work hard, and have the right connections. He should be an inspiration to all potential high proles.

        Someone’s social class isn’t something I ever find impressive, no matter what got them where they are.

        Note: It was highly amusing to me when Obama snubbed Oprah on election night in 2008, and she didn’t attend his inauguration this year. I love prole infighting.


        May 24, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      • Robert Obama didn’t snub Oprah at the 2008 inauguration; on the contrary, she was one of a small circle of friends invited to an exclusive intimate after hours party:

        Right-wing tabloid writers love to fabricate feuds between Oprah and the Obamas because their readership eats it up plus it hurts Obama with African Americans and women, but I doubt there’s any truth to it.

        Michelle recently mentioned Oprah in a speech she gave and Oprah recently described Barack as a brilliant black man, and Michelle as a radiantly brilliant black woman. She was in Canada during his 2013 inauguration and probably didn’t want to attend because it alienates a lot of her white conservative viewers. When she campaigned for him in 2007 he seemed like a very likeable figure who would be popular with all Americans, but in the years since he’s become extremely controversial, and at a time when Oprah’s needs every viewer she can get to build an entire cable channel from scratch in a very fragmented market, she’s better off distancing herself from him publicly. There’s nothing more infuriating and threatening to prole whites than the thought of a black president and black first lady hanging out with a black billionaire.

        And on what planet is Obama a prole? He’s a tall thin calm rational Ivy League hyper-elite, descended from a family of African Ivy League educated elites and white upper middle class PhDs and bank vice-presidents. He’s the exact opposite of a prole; that’s why SWPLs worship him; he needed Oprah to help him win over enough proles to beat Hillary.


        May 24, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      • smartandwise, agree with you 100%

  13. This is a pretty accurate description of these people. I spent a few years in Manhattan at a firm that worked almost exclusively for this crowd (net worths in the 9-10 and in one case 11 figures), and I knew some of them, spend some time in their homes, and got a decent sense of how they lived.

    You can definitely see an occupational pattern in these families: typically they get started by an extreme alpha male type, generally a business executive, or now often a hedge fund manager. A lot of the kids then tend go into the type of upper class “self-actualizing” things that this blog talks about a lot…things involving the arts especially. A lot of the later generations are very noticeably soft and effeminate. I think that’s why so many of the best entrepreneurs tend to come from upper-middle class backgrounds: they’re privileged enough to have the advantages they need, but not privileged enough to be enervated by an extremely easy life.

    A lot of them do have massive houses, but they’re extremely sensitive about privacy. The buildings are completely invisible from any road, and they’re owned by holding companies with innocuous-sounding names. That’s especially true of the hedge fund types, who don’t want their houses on the cover of the New York Post when we decide to have our next Two Minute Hate against bankers. Of course security’s also a concern.

    (Actually, some of the most “out-of-sight” rich are the Russian oligarchs…my salary was paid by one of them for more than a year, but only the head of my firm got to meet him only once. He had a Ph.D economist to handle his personal finances and deal with underlings. The part of the original post description that doesn’t apply to them is the part about restraint- the Russians are all about gauche and lavish everything.)


    May 23, 2013 at 5:17 PM

  14. I’m not convinced the academics at the elitist private schools are necessarily better than a lot of other private schools. Not that the academics aren’t good or that the kids don’t have good test scores. But they probably would have had good scores anywhere. I’m guessing the main reason parents send their kids is the same as what you’ve described in the rest of your post — to avoid the proles and middle class strivers. You mentioned they weren’t “racist” and that’s probably true. They’re so well insulated that it’s just not an issue. Rather, their prejudice is against proles and middle class. But that’s only half of it. The other half is that someone is always wanting something from them. Even if it’s only to be “friends” with someone wealthy. So they avoid venues where they get harassed. Would you want a bunch of people buzzing around like pecker gnats?


    May 23, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    • …the elitist private schools are necessarily better than…m guessing the main reason parents…middle class strivers…against proles and middle class…

      This talk applies only to Les Etats-Unis Merdeux.

      Americans more than any other people ever think thaty what is normal for them is normal absolutely. It’s an entire country of freaks.

      Nicoali Yezhov

      May 23, 2013 at 6:32 PM

      • @ Nicolai

        The US is large and insulated enough that for many discussions the American experience is the only one that’s relevant. But Americans don’t think their experience is the only one. I live on two different continents and am well aware of cultural differences. Rather, you lack the self-awareness to recognize your own obviously xenophobic perceptions. Also, you’re vulgar.


        May 25, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    • The difference is likely not academics, but the connections it builds.

      Some Guy

      May 23, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    • Needless to say, the goal is not merely to avoid the proles and middle-class strivers, but the violent thugs from another group.

      “Elite” private schools are probably not all that much “better” academically than “other” private schools or even decent public schools. In Fairfax County, VA, admission to the elite Thomas Jefferson High School is about 93% from public schools and 7% from private schools. As 12% of the kids attend private schools, it is clear that the private schools are not much stronger academically than the public schools (though no doubt there are a good number of private school kids who don’t want to attend TJ with the nerds and Asians).


      May 24, 2013 at 7:16 AM

  15. “A top-out-of-sight person wouldn’t work as a dentist.”

    lion, you are so quotable. this is why i read your blog.


    May 23, 2013 at 6:25 PM

  16. I grew up w/ these people. I know these people. The awful truth is that the money always runs out. It may take a few generations, but they aren’t capable of really earning, and living off of capital does,inevitably, diminish capital. So they may have grown up rich, gone to Groton and Harvard, been embarassed about the money…and then they discover it isn’t there any more. Also, I agree, the men tend to become quite effeminate (not gay) over the years.

    The smarter ones decide to get into the hurly-burly and make money again the way Grandpa or Great Grandpa did. The pathetic ones just quietly eat up the capital.

    Sometimes they marry new money to get back to where they want to be. A lot of nouveau riche Jews, for example, are thrilled to marry old money WASP women.

    Also, I disagree that they don’t want to be involved witht he middle class or the poor. Many of these people actually like working class people, within a very controlled setting (but they don’t see that). They are likely to spend a few years in their 20’s in a do-gooder situation (working on an Indian reservation, teaching in Teach for America, etc.) They move on, but the men, especially, like believing that they get along with people who “work with their hands.” Many of the become gentlemen farmers, and like to go into town and talk to real farmers. (Who are probably laughing at them behnd their backs.)

    You write as though these are impressive people. They’re not. They’re on the way down, by definition. Rough and tumble Grandpa or Great Grandpa was the impressive person.

    Park Slope Pubby

    May 23, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    • History is full of noblemen marrying rich to maintain family status.


      May 23, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    • Ah the “gentleman farmers.” They definitely do like to pretend to get along with the hicks. It’s almost like going on safari, or an anthropological expedition, for them to mingle with the natives.


      May 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    • They’re on the way down, by definition.

      Compared to their family’s alpha-male founder(s), yes. But the floor for them will normally be the Upper-Middle class where they will produce an alpha-son who will go on to great success like great grandpa. It’s not like they are at high risk of descending down to trailer trash levels.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      May 25, 2013 at 5:04 PM

  17. Most family fortunes, even sizable ones, are lost within three generations. I would imagine it’s a very small slice of families that maintain consistent stratospheric wealth generation after generation. Also private school tuition has risen much faster than inflation so chances are the great great grandfather of an elite private school attendee was paying less for the same education in adjusted dollars.

    There is an interesting TV series about high profile estate litigation called “The Will.” It’s sad to see 2nd generation descendants fighting for the scraps of what was once a vast fortune.


    May 23, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    • The Will is more like famous entertainment figures without any family background. TOOS do not appear in such shows. Even if everything fails, family and school connections will keep their status for 1 more generation.


      May 24, 2013 at 5:12 AM

  18. A few acquaintances from undergrad went on to become non-specialist doctors (actually family practice D.O.s) and podiatrists graduating from professional school in the early ’90s. By age 40 all of them had a net worth of over $1M. Before age 50, net worths of $2M – $3M. Mostly located in various parts of CA and New England. One guy even got his first employer (a family practice medical group) pay off his medical school loans.

    E. Rekshun

    May 23, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    • Podiatry is a very procedure-heavy specialty. They can make a lot more money than most docs. Reimbursements have been flat or even cut in many specialties since the early ’90’s. On top of the reduction in dollar value due to inflation, your acquaintances have done better than non-surgeon physicians I know who started practice in the last 10-15 years.


      May 23, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    • All too many doctors are “all hat, no cattle” — flashy lifestyle but low net worth because every dollar that comes in is immediately spent.


      May 24, 2013 at 7:07 AM

  19. Well, if your parents did well and you did well, quit while you’re ahead and don’t have children. Someday a global zero-child policy will be implemented. Someday.


    May 23, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    • You can leave your money to your cat.


      May 24, 2013 at 12:43 AM

  20. Well in the future if you are not toos you better hang yourself, right?


    May 23, 2013 at 7:35 PM

  21. The secular school, St. John’s, in Houston is top out of sight. Several of my friends’ kids went there and onto fancy colleges where they majored in drivel like teaching.

    From their admissions addendum entitled “St. John’s Admissions: Hopes and Realities”

    Click to access 2012-13%20Hopes%20&%20Realities.pdf

    Tracking the progress of enrolled students through the years, we notice who flourishes, who falters; who struggles, who adds vibrancy; who decides to transfer, and who rises to the top of the class. Over time, we have developed increasing confidence that the information we gather– particularly our standardized testing data–is a reliable, if imperfect, predictor of children’s academic success here. Such study has helped us to learn how to recognize which applicants show the most promise of enjoying and benefiting from St. John’s….

    We are keenly aware that much remains to be done to diversify our school community. Our progress, though steady, is checked by a scarcity of openings, especially at kindergarten, along with the relative homogeneity of our alumni….

    St. John’s enrolls substantial numbers of children from families already connected to the School. Every child who receives an offer of admission must meet–and in fact, usually exceeds–our minimum standards for acceptance. Each year, particularly at kindergarten, that group of highly qualified new students includes “St. John’s Community Applicants”: children of our alumni, children of our faculty and staff, all children whose siblings are current students at St. John’s or graduates. All other qualifications being equal, we give preference to these SJS Community Applicants. SJS Community Applicants currently account for 66 percent of our student body. And because so many well-qualified SJS Community Applicants apply to our kindergarten class, these children make up
    the majority of that class.

    not too late

    May 23, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    • Fancy colleges don’t offer “teaching” as a major.


      May 27, 2013 at 12:51 AM

      • “Fancy colleges don’t offer “teaching” as a major.”

        And quality private schools don’t require their teachers to major in teaching.

  22. I wonder if there is still a tendency for rich Jewish families to eventually become Episcopalians in the Anglosphere and RCs in the Romance language sphere.

    The owner of the NYTs is an Episcopalian. SA’s Oppenheimers are Epsicopalians IIRC. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been insistent in interviews that she is not Jewish.

    My own gradnparents made the RC Episcopalian leap.

    Nicolai Yezhov

    May 23, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    • Yes. The current family head Nicky Oppenheimer is at most 1/4 Jewish.

      Come on, there are plenty of pretty Jewish girls. Aren’t there?

      Nicolai Yezhov

      May 23, 2013 at 7:57 PM

      • Most Jews nowadays have turned into nice agreeable people because they want to be like successful gentiles. Their heyday was about being aggressive with a ruthless streak, and making a mark in society. Too bad no one has replaced them. It was supposed to be the Asians, but they are known to be passive aggressive whiners instead of alpha go getters like the Jews of yesterday.

        Just Speculating

        May 23, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    • Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the chairman of NYT, is half-Jewish. That’s why he was raised Episcopalian. When he was born, not even Reform Judaism allowed transmission of Jewish status via fathers. His mother would have had to convert. Now Reform, but not the other branches, accepts patrilineal Jews without conversion. However, it’s reasonably likely that for reasons of social advantage, his parents wouldn’t have taken advantage of that even if it had been available.


      May 23, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      • Ha, very interesting. I have a friend whose dad is Jewish and mother is Episcopal, raised Episcopal.

        not too late

        May 26, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    • I’ve heard that St. James Episcopal on the UES serves martinis after services. Maybe lion could verify this.


      May 23, 2013 at 10:19 PM

  23. Do the top out of sight by definition have major political influence or power?


    May 23, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    • Influence, but not power. They don’t give lots of money directly to politicians (too visible these days), but they often control something which can be quite handy for a politician – a foundation which publicizes a politician’s pet project, or an organization which, without the TOOS’s name on it, gives a lot of money.


      May 23, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    • Yes. Nouveau riche have to hold expensive parties to see a politician. Toos can call them in first name basis.


      May 24, 2013 at 5:15 AM

  24. Would Muffy and her husband qualify for toos were it not for her blog?

    S_McCoy The Winged Lion of Proles

    May 23, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    • I love her blog! She seems pretty nice, too. But she works in a self-actualizing magazine job, and she seems to holiday in fairly prole areas (and complains about the proles). I don’t think she’s TOOS.


      May 24, 2013 at 12:08 AM

      • Oops, wrong blog, I was thinking of another old wasp’s blog. Sorry. I take back that Muffy isn’t TOOS – I don’t read her blog enough to know.


        May 24, 2013 at 12:17 AM

  25. One of the things that always made me laugh about these people was their fixation with the whole art collecting thing.

    Obviously most people are followers, and would jump off a cliff if all their peers were doing it, so that explains some of what sustains it, but there must be some other reason it’s so pervasive.

    The fact is that a lot of the out-of-sight class, like most other people, aren’t especially bright or intellectually engaged, but they do feel some pressure to project an image of sophistication. My guess is that art collecting is a way to seem intellectually sophisticated without actually having to think very hard.


    May 23, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    • Maybe they are exposed to more art? When you are educated about it, great art is really hard not to love.
      Of course, when your favorite uncle/friend/cousin/whatever has a fabulous painting and you want to impress him, you will be buy an even better painting. And when your friends love art you will discuss art with them, which isn’t hard because you know a lot about it.

      Much of UC/TOOS behavior seems to be a self-perpetuating cycle. Who knows what came first, real love of art or lemming-like actions?


      May 24, 2013 at 12:12 AM

      • Also, this reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend, who chose not to go to McRob (which is an uber-selective girls’ high school in Melbourne, most people kill to get in.)
        She said that her private school had a much better arts program. I’d never considered this (sadly, since I don’t bother comparing public high schools, no matter how great, unless they’re one of the two selective schools in Melbourne), but it makes sense to me that UC/TOOS kids get better arts education than most.


        May 24, 2013 at 12:21 AM

  26. Re: racism. I’ve read a few studies which showed that above a certain level, people judged you more on your clothes/culture/etc. This makes sense because after a certain income level the losers are weeded out; when your peers are intelligent, wealthy, interesting etc (like you!) maybe you care less about their skin color. A rich white has more in common with a rich non-white than a prole white. On the other hand, I’ve found that proles and middle class tend to be extremely racist. I have my own theories as to why this is, but who cares, really. Yet another reason why the non-proles tend to avoid proles.


    May 23, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    • My beloved proles are more “racist” than the upper classes because the only contact the upper classes have with the non-whites happens to be when they are on their best behavior, ie most obsequious, that goes for wealthy other than whites as well, except for the president and attorney general.

      S_McCoy The Winged Lion of Proles

      May 24, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    • My experience (I attended a top out of sight private school) was that many of the uber rich enjoyed dressing down (well worn preppy). It was mostly, not exclusively, the striving high middle class who were obsessed with appearances. The old super rich, at least some of the guys, liked being sloppy and unkempt in an Owen Wilson kind of way. After all, everyone knew who they were so why make an effort? When the school has 100 plus year old buildings named for your family what does it matter how you look? Remember Sam Walton, perhaps not old money but with the attitude, drove a beat up old truck.


      May 25, 2013 at 1:14 AM

      • Walton was from Ark right and attended U Missouri, but he had the preppy outlook. Just read the Preppy Handbook y’all. It’s not much of a reveal. Its author was on the Today Show.

        Nicolai Yezhov

        May 25, 2013 at 9:47 PM

  27. I’d like to think I’m top-out-of-sight because I live on a high floor apartment and I don’t like to go outside or talk to people. But I don’t think that’s quite the idea.

    lion of the lionosphere

    May 23, 2013 at 10:32 PM

  28. The quintessential exemplar of an endowment for a TOOS family has been the New York Times corporation for the extended Ochs-Sulzburger family. In addition to the cachet that goes with owning the most influential newspaper in the world, The New York Times until quite recently had been very profitable. The Sulzburger clan has lived very well off of the dividends paid by the Times, but oh how things have change. I doubt that the New York Times corporation will last another generation. I predict that the marquee brand name will eventually be auctioned off in a bankruptcy for a few million. And because of the pressure put on the family members not to sell any of their class “A”, voting shares over the years, most of them probably do not have a great reserve of wealth in other assets. Somewhere in New York’s future will be heirs of that family shuffling around New York, just like the rest of us.


    May 24, 2013 at 1:47 AM

  29. TOOS: Children of the New York Times.

    Here’s a breakdown on what the current generation of Ochs-Sulberger heirs are up to.

    Carolyn Dyfoos Greenspon, b. 1968, social worker
    Michael Stuart Greenspon, b. 1970, Times strategist
    Robert Alexander Dryfoos b 1982, ?
    Pamela Marie Dryfoos b. 1984, studied business at UCLA
    David Adam Golden b 1978, folk singer
    Margaret Goodrich Golden b. 1976, graphic design student at Pratt
    Rachel Barnes Golden b. 1979, digital marketer that the Times
    Hays Nathaniel Golden b. 1984, Ph.D candidate, University of Chicago
    Tess Iphigene Golden b. 1987, Brown student, blogs for Times style section
    Matthew Richard Cohen b. 1977 ?
    Taylor Marzden Cohen b. 1979 ?
    Simon Martin Sulzburger Lax b. 1987, ecology student at Columbia
    John Alden Sulzburger Lax b. 1990, graduated from Skidmore 2012
    James Dryfoos (Jimbo to friends) b. 1965, systems analyst at the Times
    Victoria Anne Dryfoos, b. 1967, spanish teacher
    Nicholas Ochs Mazonowicz, video artist, RISD grad.
    Samuel Dolnick b. 1980 AP reporter in Asia
    Benjamin Dolnick b. 1982, fiction writer
    Alexander Hays Cohen, b. 1989, NYU student, in a band with cousin Dave Golden
    Adam Richard Cohen b. 1991, student at Professional Children’s school.
    Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, b. 1980, Oregonian reporter
    Ann Alden Sulburger b. 1982, curator in London
    David Sulzburger Perpich b. 1977, ran a school for DJs.
    Sarah Sulburger Perpich b. 1980 fashion stylist
    Abby Sulzburger Perpich b. 1988, Silwell Friends grad.

    Wow. A lot of self-actualizing, a lot of laying about and a lot of make-work work in the family business. Talk about regression to the mean, not a single one is on an Alpha trajectory. They better start learning a trade because that Times dividend is never coming back.

    I’ll given them this though, they are truly TOOS. I’ve never heard of any of them and I doubt we will ever see tales of their mishaps splashed around Page Six.


    May 24, 2013 at 2:21 AM

    • Suddenly, in time, one of them will arrive wi th a storm and syncophants willing to help them will flock. I don’t worry about them.


      May 24, 2013 at 9:31 AM

  30. You don’t have to be rich to insulate yourself from people you don’t like:


    May 24, 2013 at 2:21 AM

  31. ANY, I repeat ANY moron can spend money and on the “right” stuff.
    Even Paris HIlton can learn which brand sweater to buy and what shoes not to wear.

    MAKING it is the impressive part.

    D Brooks

    May 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM

  32. TOOS is the cream of Western Civilization, and should be protected.


    May 24, 2013 at 6:56 PM

  33. […] bad, Nahantism good” is an excellent post from Lion on what he calls the “top-out-of-sight” class, on a potential (?) emergent phenomenon in our Hyper-Polarization Stage of Advanced […]

  34. This seems like as good as a time as any to thank the Lion for his posts on “Girls”. While I expected them to be completely devoid of relevance to my life, through a strange turn of events my mysterious knowledge of plotlines on Girls, despite my lack of a TV, led me to wind up with my current girlfriend, who is a top-out-of-sight from New England.

    I originally found this blog ages ago through searching for reviews of Fussell’s “Class”, so I love these cultural caste posts. They are greatly appreciated.

    Anonymous Bro

    May 25, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    • Hope it sticks but toos usually marries other toos.


      May 25, 2013 at 10:52 AM

      • Bros before toos, mane.


        May 26, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    • Real TOOS or downwardly mobile genteel poverty posing as TOOS. Be careful that she doesn’t work you to death to maintain a lifestyle to which she feels entitled.


      May 25, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      • A necessary sacrifice to help your progeny to become toos. Of course if it becomes apparent there will be no progeny then time to stop.


        May 25, 2013 at 12:35 PM

  35. “They do something that looks like work. This is not times past when rich people did nothing besides attend parties. The work they do may even be real work that pays good money, although it would be some work that’s respectable or self-actualizing.” ——————————

    Thank goodness for the Paris Hilton’s and other party goers. I’ve been surprised and depressed by the platform given those TOOS seeking to make the world a better place typically in a fashion that imposes the greatest costs on the lower and middle classes. I’ll take those who won’t let you into their parties any day over those, like Teddy Kennedy, who want to change the demography of your workplace and neighborhood. Having said that, from my experience the annoying ones are a minority.


    May 25, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    • The Kennedies are too public to be TOOSers

      Nicolai Yezhov

      May 25, 2013 at 9:44 PM

  36. Richest Orthodox Jew = Ron Perelman?

    Nicolai Yezhov

    May 26, 2013 at 9:12 PM

  37. Well Siggy I’m enjoying the class system posts.

    Now please tell what sort of stores out-of-sight shop at? I imagine Ralph Lauren(blue and black labels) as well as Jcrew.

    I think Gwenyth Paltrow might be from this class. Birdie Bell is from this class for sure. Corneila Guest daughter of CZ Guest is from this class. Town&Country is the magazine celebrating people from this class. Get an issue from the 90’s to get an authentic feel for this part of the upper crust.

    Chic Noir

    May 28, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    • TOOS don’t like Ralph Lauren because the polo pony is too recognizable. JCrew is shopped at by people who want to pretend to be TOOS but can’t afford it.

  38. Now I have a name for my pain!


    June 15, 2013 at 12:33 PM

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