The New Aristocracy or Why We Worship Billionaires

Cameron Lee Cowan
5 min readMay 23, 2024

America loves her billionaires. While the rich of the past tended to have a quiet, understated elegance about themselves (Vanderbilts, Astors, Mellons) the trend since the 1980s has been to wear the wealth out loud. Worshipping and emulating the wealthy is not new. Trends in food, fashion, and lifestyle have all descended from the wealthy to people or more modest means. But in the US, billionaire worship has gone into hyperdrive, for a country that makes granting titles unconstitutional, we have found our own way to create an aristocracy, not of birth but of the bank account.

People, special people

More digital ink gets spilled on the habits of billionaires than the latest break up of the celebrity du jour. Sites will proudly announce the daily habits of Warren Buffett or Oprah Winfrey, and the articles always take the same tone: follow these simple tips, and you too can be insanely wealthy.

We’ve all seen the listicles about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and how their tremendous net worth does not cause them to live lavish lifestyles. Warren Buffett is so saintly frugal that he still eats McDonald’s and is said to clip coupons. He still lives in a modest house in Omaha and drives a late model car. Bill Gates can be seen standing in line (like regular people!) at Dick’s burger stand in…

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Cameron Lee Cowan

Creative Director of The Cameron Journal. Culture, political commentary, and much more!