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written by Sam Greenspan

How can anyone raise a family on only $17 million a year?

For some masochistic reason, I decided to devote a sizable portion of my day to money. Reading articles about the recession, counting and recounting the one dollar bills in my wallet (six, by the way), listening to any hip-hop song made in the past 13 years — I did all that.

By the end of the session I was angry at money (for not coming to me readily), so I decided I needed to redirect my fiduciary anger. And what better target is there than rich a-holes, right?

Here are 11 actual quotes about money from rich people. These quotes fall somewhere in a Venn diagram of insensitive and oblivious — the amount of overlap only known to the speaker.

1 | “I want only two houses, rather than seven… I feel like letting go of things.”

–Barbra Streisand

Theoretically, I should wail on her here for “only” having two houses… but, then again, she said this long before the 2000s, when everyone in the U.S. could own between two and seven houses as long as they had a piece of string and Penny Hardaway rookie card as collateral.

2 | “Instead [of having] four maids or three maids in the house, you can have two maids.”

–Abdel Rahman al-Awadi, Kuwaiti Minister for Cabinet Affairs, on saving money

Man, on the hierarchy of making unthinkable wealth, there really isn’t anything the compares to a Middle Eastern country with oil money. (Other than “defense contractor making weapons to take on Middle Eastern country with oil money.”)

3 | “You know my life, this financial thing, is a very complicated issue. Obviously, when you make all that money, people think, ‘OK, let’s assume it is $35 million.’ People have to understand that $35 million, you’re paying the government 41 percent. That leaves you with about $17 or $18 million, not even. Then you’re taking care of your whole family.”

–Jose Canseco, former MLB player

I think even Shawn Kemp could raise a family on $18 million. (With the name tag budget being a good 0.5 percent of that.)

4 | “A billion here, a billion there, sooner or later it adds up to real money.”

–Everett Dirksen, R-Illinois, House of Representatives (1933-49), Senate (1951-69)

Hilariously exaggerated government spending really does make people lose perspective sometimes. As part of my effort to drive myself crazy, I looked at how much I paid in taxes last year and tried to figure out what my money might’ve gone to. I’ve decided to go with either new uniforms for 50 National Park rangers or one bolt in the International Space Station.

(On a tangent, is anyone else ready for the U.S. to give up on the space program? Just kinda seems like a great way to hemorrhage money. We beat the Reds. 41 years ago. But now it’s 2010 and we haven’t made much progress in the areas we were supposed to: Vacations to the Moon, meeting aliens, or getting our hands on some of that Moon money. The closest we’ve come to discovering life on Mars is when everyone has their inevitable Bowie phase during their sophomore year of college. I say end it now, and resume when it looks like the Chinese or North Koreans are going to be the first ones to walk on the planet formerly known as Pluto.)

5 | “OMG i was saying how i couldn’t afford the gas to fly daddy’s jet to the riviera this summer, and this barista totally rolled her eyes at me”

–Twitter user @babesmcphee

Twitter is allowing people to take egotistic obliviousness and insensitivity to a new level — and this is one of the best examples ever. This line is voted the number one quote on the website Tweeting Too Hard which chronicles the world’s most obnoxious tweets. AKA… tweets.

6 | “Most of us have stopped using silver every day.”

–Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister (1979-90)

For some reason, I just keep picturing Margaret Thatcher saying this like Lucille Bluth. (“What’s a banana cost? $10?”)

7 | “I’ve cut back, because my partner Lorenzo and I are buying a house in the West Village.”

–Marc Jacobs, fashion designer

I have a friend (who asked not to be called out by name) who’s cutting back by wandering into a hotel down the street from his apartment every so often and swiping shampoo and soap from a maid’s cart. So I guess everyone’s got to tighten it up right now.

8 | “Why would I want to help them win a title? They’re not doing anything for me. I’m at risk. I have a lot of risk here. I got my family to feed.”

–Latrell Sprewell, former NBA player, rejecting a three-year, $21 million contract

I’m loathe to defend Sprewell, but I think, on some level, I know what was going on in his head — anyone with a family wants to make as much money as possible to provide for them to their absolute maximum ability. (This is different than those of us who can quit our jobs and dick around on “personal projects” for a while because all we need to do is drum up enough money to keep the lights and DSL on.)

But… it was an incredibly bad choice of words, considering you could feed an entire third world country for $21 million. Not forever, but at least for a while. Assuming that country isn’t India and has a reasonably-sized population. And that everyone there is cool with raman at least once a day. I mean, even without a bulk discount, that money could buy 210 million packages of ramen. As an homage to Sprewell they could choke it down once a day.

9 | “I’m so naive about finances. Once when my mother mentioned an amount and I realized that I didn’t understand she had to explain: ‘That’s like three Mercedes.’ Then I understood.”

–Brooke Shields

I’m assuming she said this as a child star (or, in the case of her Calvin Klein ads, child porn star) — ya know, around the time when she was farting on the set of Blue Lagoon. If she said this during the Suddenly Susan days, then… well, we probably wouldn’t be that surprised, actually.

10 | “When I see someone who is making anywhere from $300,000 to $750,000 a year, that’s middle class.”

–Fred Heineman, R-North Carolina, House (1995-97)

The median household income in the state he was representing is under $45,000.

I guess when you’re a one-term Congressman you’ve got to say something to get on the map. It must be tough to be a one termer. According to the AP Government class I took in 1996, it’s easy to get re-elected because, as a sitting Congressman, you can send everyone mail for free. (Ah, oversimplification. So neat and tidy.) Plus, according to The Distinguished Gentlemen, people just go into the booth and vote for the name they know. Yes, I base my understanding of American governance on a high school class I took 14 years ago and an Eddie Murphy movie. I admitted it, now I’ll never be able to get the shit back into the horse.

11 | “Money doesn’t make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.”

–Arnold Schwarzenegger

I would suspect he was joking, but, best I can tell, because of his still-tenuous grasp of English, the only jokes he makes are references to his movies. (So if he’d said, “I could say that I was as happy at $48 million as I am at $50 million, but that’s a True Lie” or “With $50 million I now finally have enough money to track down Sarah Connor” then we’d know he was joking. As it is — ambiguous.)