The Velvet Rope Economy
From New York Times business reporter Nelson D. Schwartz comes a gripping investigation of how a virtual velvet rope divides Americans in every arena of life, creating a friction-free existence for those with money on one side and a Darwinian struggle for the middle class on the other side.In nearly every realm of daily life--from health care to education, highways to home security--there is an invisible velvet rope that divides how Americans live. On one side of the rope, for a price, red tape is cut, lines are jumped, appointments are secured, and doors are opened. On the other side, middle- and working-class Americans fight to find an empty seat on the plane, a place in line with their kids at the amusement park, a college acceptance, or a hospital bed. We are all aware of the gap between the rich and everyone else, but when we weren't looking, business innovators stepped in to exploit it, shifting services away from the masses and finding new ways to profit by serving the privileged. And as decision-makers and corporate leaders increasingly live on the friction-free side of the velvet rope, they are less inclined to change--or even notice--the obstacles everyone else must contend with. Schwartz's "must read" book takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour of this new reality and shows the toll the velvet rope divide takes on society.

The Velvet Rope Economy Details

TitleThe Velvet Rope Economy
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2020
PublisherDoubleday Books
ISBN-139780385543088
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Business, Economics

The Velvet Rope Economy Review

  • Paige
    January 1, 1970
    "The rise of the Velvet Rope Economy marks an end to the great democratization of American life in the post-World War II era." What is the Velvet Rope? The Velvet Rope uses class segregation to help businesses profit. Think of the fast pass systems at theme parks that only certain family groups can afford. Or the better seats at a sporting event. Or even private education. Why are businesses profiting from class segregation? How did we get here?There are several examples for everything this "The rise of the Velvet Rope Economy marks an end to the great democratization of American life in the post-World War II era." What is the Velvet Rope? The Velvet Rope uses class segregation to help businesses profit. Think of the fast pass systems at theme parks that only certain family groups can afford. Or the better seats at a sporting event. Or even private education. Why are businesses profiting from class segregation? How did we get here?There are several examples for everything this book states. You will be familiar with most of them if you have lived in the U.S. for most of your life. If you have not, this might be a big eye opener. Different treatment, benefits, and price discrimination due to socioeconomic status is proven in airline services, theme parks, sporting events, health care, and education to name a few that are used as examples in this book. "It favors the people who have the money..." The first part of the book is about the super elite that are "inside" of the Velvet Rope (5%-54% on a Kindle), and the second half is about those "outside" of the Velvet Rope (54%-83% on a Kindle). Exclusivity, social brain hypothesis, soft benefits vs. hard benefits, situational inequality, Pareto optimality, and class segregation are used to support the ideology behind the Velvet Rope Economy. "...people will be left out of the economic system as more and more information accumulates." It only focuses on the present and what that looks like right now. It does explain that we are headed to a caste system but goes no further.This is a well researched book that is accessible to the average reader. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy. Opinions are my own.
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  • Sue Fernandez
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I'd thought I'd start a non-fiction book so I wasn't up too late. This ended up keeping me up! It reads smoothly, transitioning and segueing into different areas without effort. I won't say this book didn't trouble me...a lot. Just this morning we were discussing how Disney has now fallen into this and they are offering "VIP" seating for the parades, "plaid" shirt treatment for a price, Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I'd thought I'd start a non-fiction book so I wasn't up too late. This ended up keeping me up! It reads smoothly, transitioning and segueing into different areas without effort. I won't say this book didn't trouble me...a lot. Just this morning we were discussing how Disney has now fallen into this and they are offering "VIP" seating for the parades, "plaid" shirt treatment for a price, etc. The book delves into how this came about and how it creeps into areas we wouldn't expect, such as medical care. I'll be thinking about this book for some time to come. Highly recommended.
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  • Donna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    The recent results from a Gallup Poll (Jan 2018) showed that 36% Americans are dissatisfied with the ability to get ahead by working hard!This should not be a surprise for anyone working today for peanuts while exhausting themselves daily for 10c raises as Top Producers/Associate of the Months and whatever other title they wiggle in your face to try to achieve.I know this because like many of you - I went from upper middle- to extreme poverty- now officially 'locked in' to the bottom row.You The recent results from a Gallup Poll (Jan 2018) showed that 36% Americans are dissatisfied with the ability to get ahead by working hard!This should not be a surprise for anyone working today for peanuts while exhausting themselves daily for 10c raises as Top Producers/Associate of the Months and whatever other title they wiggle in your face to try to achieve.I know this because like many of you - I went from upper middle- to extreme poverty- now officially 'locked in' to the bottom row.You might ask how? Well, divorce, bankruptcy, no child support for over a year living on credit to raise a family of four, legal/medical expenses, marital/credit debt, student loan debt (by way that MPA never used to raise 3 kids with son med disabled for life since birth.)I mention this once again not for sympathy, not empathy, not compassion as I know that's not the norm today but to show that working hard is a farce as it's a tough competition today with not only the college kids but the low salaries, the stagnant wages, the lack of benefits and cutting hours just below F-T (yes I see you employers), and the work to death motto that leaves you with nothing more than higher medical bills.How should I know as I worked at a factory as top producer in two departments while being video taped by my bosses to show others how it's done. The garbage guy who didn't work off conveyor, allowed to move freely w/o question, never begged for toilet breaks or fresh air circulation from dusty fans overhead made more than me working like a nut.I was paid exactly $7.25 hr w 10cent raise with $25 one time bonuses for associate of the month awards.YIPPEEEE!I would add that same job pays the same wages from when I worked as a teen (now 47 next May.)Is this the 'Make America Great Again' that they all spoke of so beautifully or are we being sold more empty promises and broken dreams (ps. Malignant Narcissist survivor too.)So, yes, when I say the welfare to work is to force others into employment w/o care or concern for safety or survival - I MEAN IT!You see while in extreme poverty my son (19 yo now full time college) was taken off SSI/SSP in March just before graduating high school in May and ironically the same day the welfare to work took effect.Now push forward a few months he then enrolled full time night classes at college (1st yr freshman) and he has his food stamps taken away...and they wonder why colleges now have food banks inside of them?What the hell is wrong with people?You see my family and I were left bankrupt and homeless after divorcing an abusive spouse with an active pfa and violation w his arrest and 3 month probation for enrollment into alcohol and drug and anger management courses.A warrant was issued for his failure to pay and appear for court and child support w 15 k arrears.I had given up career to raise med disabled son w vater syndrome for 19 yrs.I have looked for a job since 2010 (separation) and 2013 (divorce) w 3 interviews this after attending job fairs, networking, referrals, cold calls, begging, placing resumes online after updating at undergrad colleges, with linkedin business accounts, etc...I was just passed up with my 20 yrs volunteering experience and Points of Light Award for a college girl who was basically on the yearbook staff as a content writer even though I currently work unpaid as a national trade blogger with over 9 major publications producing over 1k reviews yearly at Goodreads/NetGalley and having won every award for high reviews and stats.So folks, please do continue with the hard work pays nonsense but it's not what you do it's who you know, how much money you possess, and what your age, race, and other factors like class and credit are in today's world.You see those w/o credit can't get jobs, nor housing, nor will landlords rent to those w kids or past abuse histories. This is fact!You might also not be aware that shelters won't take in women and kids nope just women and they must not be in the facility during the day but seeking work.EBT is not a handout but handup and I know this all too well as I continue to dispose of the myths and misconceptions having had my food insecurities told to every member of Congress in Community Voices.So sure, when those who've been fed the lies approach me I want to rip their heads off because the stories about welfare recipients and the abuse of the system or the character judgement is so off center and made to be a 'catch all or nothing' response.The facts are when you have welfare providing more income than minimum wage employment than you have yourself a huge problem! In Pennsylvania, it's $6.53 more income! https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/st...Now, if you have to support a family and you can't get paid a 'living wage' to raise a family wouldn't you make the same choice others are now being forced to make? Would you think this is milking or survival? You tell me.What if you needed benefits because your family member was disabled or suffered other lifelong illnesses or ailments? What if I told you employers deliberately pay under 40 hrs to not provide benefits. Would you think less of others for seeking benefits to survive? Or in my case with spinal stenosis causing leg paralysis, raynaud's phenomenon, severe anemia w dyspnea, vater syndrome, and much, much, more.This is reality folks and though the 'GET A JOB' comments are enduring they are not reality for many especially those my age or older who can't get hired from age discrimination.If you think it doesn't exists I ask why would a company wish to hire a LT unemployed homemaker whose overqualified and lacks prior work experience with a family of 4 to support on benefits and flex schedules when they can easily go to greener pastures with a college student that is young and not often seeking such accolades to survive but rather need to get foot in door to start the dreaded loan process or deferment.In fact, you cannot write off those student loans in bankruptcy so good luck with all that debt.The author illustrates a point when he notes, 82% said income inequality is a major problem according to his research from Pew Research Center - Oct 2017.In essence, the middle class is being hollowed out every day as we enter a feudal system for the top 1% rather than a sustainable working class capitalist system.If you want the truth I provide this video from my former boss; President of Al Beech, a local food bank for which I volunteered. Here she puts on full display the myths and misconceptions she herself had which resembled what many now believe and how wrong she was in her own professional words. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HakCA...For more information about poverty, EBT, food insecurities and more please visit my profile or check out these links and then tell me hard work pays:https://www.pointsoflight.org/awards/...https://d3b0lhre2rgreb.cloudfront.net...PG 38 to see my story told by Rose DeLauro (D-Conn)https://www.mfhs.org/?s=donna+hinesBlogs on the topics of LT Unemployment and Extreme Poverty:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-yo...https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/exposi...https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/exposi...
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  • Elizabeth Fensin
    January 1, 1970
    First half is an entertaining anthropological look at how the 1% live. The second half is depressing.
  • Becky Diamond
    January 1, 1970
    The Velvet Rope Economy is a shocking exposé of our continually splintering economy and value system. Schwartz skillfully navigates the playground of the super-rich and their long list of premium experiences from VIP amusement park tours and luxury sports arena boxes to better access to hospitals and educational opportunities. The real-life examples and statistics he reveals invoke a wide range of emotions from bewilderment and envy to anger, disgust, disappointment and even fear. As one very The Velvet Rope Economy is a shocking exposé of our continually splintering economy and value system. Schwartz skillfully navigates the playground of the super-rich and their long list of premium experiences from VIP amusement park tours and luxury sports arena boxes to better access to hospitals and educational opportunities. The real-life examples and statistics he reveals invoke a wide range of emotions from bewilderment and envy to anger, disgust, disappointment and even fear. As one very small segment of the population keeps piling on wealth, the middle class struggles harder, becoming more isolated, excluded and fractured. An eye-opening wake up call that something needs to be done to stop the class segmentation before it truly divides us all. Highly recommend.
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  • Ietrio
    January 1, 1970
    Schwartz is having a mid-life crisis. Mommy used to buy him candies when he wanted to. Than mommy got him to a good school. Later mommy helped him get college education so he won't feel stupid when meeting his school friends. Mommy used to get him food and clothing. And now, as an adult Schwartz notices there are so many things mommy can't get him and that is UNFAIR! After all, he is as good as his peers, mommy said.
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  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
    January 1, 1970
    Most of the information in the book you probably already know, such as that if you pay extra you can get personalized guided tours of Disneyland and that one of the reasons airlines make economy class so uncomfortable is to encourage you to pay to upgrade. But there were a few things I didn't know such as that public schools now charge students to be on the school teams, and there may even be a charge to try out for a team. So one of the ways that a kid used to be able to break out of poverty, Most of the information in the book you probably already know, such as that if you pay extra you can get personalized guided tours of Disneyland and that one of the reasons airlines make economy class so uncomfortable is to encourage you to pay to upgrade. But there were a few things I didn't know such as that public schools now charge students to be on the school teams, and there may even be a charge to try out for a team. So one of the ways that a kid used to be able to break out of poverty, even if it was long odds, was to be good at sports and maybe get a college scholarship. Now kids from families without extra cash for team fees in high school may be locked out of that opportunity, which seems outrageously unfair. Maybe socialism isn't such a bad idea after all.
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  • Csimplot Simplot
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent book!!!
  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business by Nelson D. Schwartz is somewhat reminiscent of the syndicated TV show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous; it provides an insiders look at the access and privilege that wealth affords in modern day America. Schwartz loosely defines a velvet rope as figurative barrier with relative ease, efficiency and luxury on one side and hardship, struggle and latency on the other. The principal tenet of The Velvet Rope Economy is that the modern The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business by Nelson D. Schwartz is somewhat reminiscent of the syndicated TV show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous; it provides an insider’s look at the access and privilege that wealth affords in modern day America. Schwartz loosely defines a velvet rope as figurative barrier with relative ease, efficiency and luxury on one side and hardship, struggle and latency on the other. The principal tenet of The Velvet Rope Economy is that the modern velvet rope prevents the rich from even encountering the less-well off thus eliminating their empathy towards them. The Velvet Rope Economy is written in two parts. The first part of the book describes life inside the velvet rope and the second part outside. While most of the elements inside the velvet rope, first class travel accommodations, skipping the line at theme parks and express lanes on the highway, are perhaps unfair at best, Schwartz highlights a damming consequence of the velvet rope: exclusive access to physicians in public hospitals. While it is unclear that money is exchanged in this arrangement, one detail is certain. Doctors are willing and eager participants in ensuring that the well-to-do receive preferential treatment. The Velvet Rope Economy loses steam in the second half of the book. Schwartz seems to run out of material here and the space would be better served either providing a historical perspective on the velvet rope or engaging academics and policy thinkers on the issue. The Velvet Rope Economy is worth a read and presents an eye-opening account of inequality in America today.
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  • Kate Roark
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting account of the "velvet rope" separating the haves and have-nots in the economy. While elites get special access to education, sporting events, travel, etc., others face a lack of access in health care, education, shopping and community. The author ends the book of suggestions of alternatives to the growing catering to the rich and the possibility of a more egalitarian society.
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  • Diane Hernandez
    January 1, 1970
    The bad news is that there is a hidden (and not so hidden) Velvet Rope Economy in the United States right now. The author explains that the rich top one-percenters are different. They essentially coast down an EZPass paid express lane through lifes difficulties. Meanwhile, the losers below them struggle with lines at amusement parks and proposed Standing-Room-Only seats in coach air travel.So whats the good news? According to the author, Im in the Upper Middle Class, which may explain why Im The bad news is that there is a hidden (and not so hidden) Velvet Rope Economy in the United States right now. The author explains that the rich top one-percenters are different. They essentially coast down an EZPass paid express lane through life’s difficulties. Meanwhile, the losers below them struggle with lines at amusement parks and proposed Standing-Room-Only “seats” in coach air travel.So what’s the good news? According to the author, I’m in the Upper Middle Class, which may explain why I’m thinking of purchasing the $500 an hour VIP tour at Disneyland despite thinking it was a waste of money only twenty years ago. YOLO, am I right? But truly in California, where a million dollar is a starter condo, I feel closer to the bottom than the top earners.Some of the services available on the other side of the rope are pretty incredible. Access to clinical trials, a hidden park at Seaworld, private firefighters that will save your house but let your neighbor’s burn, and a private Porsche ride to your connecting flight are just a few of the surprising (and probably surprisingly expensive) options.So how will this increasingly large difference between the rich and everyone else end? Per the man smart enough to invest in Amazon at the beginning, “civil disorder or even revolution.” However, according to the author, there is a simpler solution. Vote with your feet. Resist purchasing the Velvet Rope Economy’s premium options. Use egalitarian Southwest Airlines that has only one seat class. I guess there goes my VIP tour idea. I enjoyed this short class in economics and human behavior. If you are interested in topic, the author keeps it entertaining. He also shows both the pros and cons of premium pricing. 4 stars!Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Staci
    January 1, 1970
    Capitalism exists with the consent of democracy, and the more the vast majority find themselves not just outside the Velvet Rope but treated with disdain, the system itself is threatened. This can be a hard book to read; while I was annoyed with the earlier parts regarding vacationing like the rich, etc. it's the later parts dealing with healthcare and education that really burn -- we tell ourselves that wealthy people's lives aren't worth more than poorer people but then we tend to structure Capitalism exists with the consent of democracy, and the more the vast majority find themselves not just outside the Velvet Rope but treated with disdain, the system itself is threatened. This can be a hard book to read; while I was annoyed with the earlier parts regarding vacationing like the rich, etc. it's the later parts dealing with healthcare and education that really burn -- we tell ourselves that wealthy people's lives aren't worth more than poorer people but then we tend to structure our societies in ways that contradict that belief. The conclusion is the only part of the book where there's ever any "here's what we can do..." and it's not much; this book is definitely more about laying out what the problem is than how it can be fixed.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    This is a review of how the 1% are catered to and how they have changed the USA economy into their way of living so that they have advantages beyond what they have earned or deserve. I was not aware of the extremes they go to in order to avoid rubbing elbows with commoners or fellow citizens. It is very hard to believe that America has turned into not only a class society but oligarchy. As a retired USN enlisted type I am aware of how Naval officers are treated much better than the workers like This is a review of how the 1% are catered to and how they have changed the USA economy into their way of living so that they have advantages beyond what they have earned or deserve. I was not aware of the extremes they go to in order to avoid rubbing elbows with commoners or fellow citizens. It is very hard to believe that America has turned into not only a class society but oligarchy. As a retired USN enlisted type I am aware of how Naval officers are treated much better than the workers like me. But this blows the doors off even that stratification which is after all inherited from the former colonial England where a monarchy ruled.
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  • NonFiction 24/7
    January 1, 1970
    This book makes me think about how I spend my money because it is the last true voice I have in this country. Living in a rural area this was pretty eye opening read about how many things are available to rich people in the city. This book shows how money makes things easier and offers a glimpse of how the elite live. People spend more to fly out of elite terminals than what I can make in a year. This book also shows how the gap is growing between rich and poor.
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  • Marjorie Freedman
    January 1, 1970
    Important but somewhat depressing book. As I read this during the "shelter in place" I can't help but think that the divide between the haves and have-nots will only widen when we emerge from this pandemic and leadership void. If we, as Americans, want real change, we must understand that this velvet rope economy is real and that we must elect leaders who will address wealth inequality once and for all.
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  • Charles Godfrey Kamukama
    January 1, 1970
    Though the book is geographically bounded to America, the reality of the economic gap is attested in every corner of the world. The facts presented about the widening economic gap presented in this book give an insight between rich and poor and sheds light to everyone on how to bridge the gap for better living on this planet where the world is not our home.
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  • Ariadne
    January 1, 1970
    An insightful and engaging look at the vast wealth disparity in the USA
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