There is certainly no shortage of finger pointing to go around for the current global economic crisis. But after exhaustive research and contemplation, I have determined that the majority of blame lay squarely at the Manolo Blahnik adorned feet of only one person: Paris Hilton.
By now we all are well aware of what launched Ms. Hilton's career - she built one of the world's most successful hotel conglomerates. Oh, my mistake, that was someone in her gene pool. Not to say that hotels didn't have a great deal to do with her success - they did - only in 20 minute increments. Did she strive with boundless ambition? No, she struggled in bounded contortion. With a helping hand from YouTube and locker rooms full of post-pubescent boys - Paris suddenly became famous.
Paris Hilton has achieved global iconic status without ever having accomplished anything. She taught us all that that it is ok, even fashionable, to have success without substance, to live well beyond our accomplishments, and that the perception of success was more important that having ever earned it.
Paris Hilton's designer garments fell to the floor, and with them the personal responsibility and accountability of an entire generation!
Not surprisingly, Ms. Hilton's yoga inspired trist soon led to a wave of dramatic societal changes. To keep up with the Jones', we bought McMansions with zero interest loans. We leased BMWs with no money down. We sucked dry home equity lines of credit well beyond what our homes were worth. (turned out the Jones' were broke too...)
We stopped saving altogether, and increased our spending annually to an average of 5% MORE than what we earned.
CEOs took out millions in options and bonuses, often in amounts exceeding the profits of their entire companies. States created entitlements they could never sustain. And the federal government began writing checks that will bounce for generations to come.
Could any of these changes have occurred absent the influence of Paris Hilton? Perhaps. But all occurring simultaneously? That is just too much coincidence for this observer to believe.
Success without substance.
As Warren Buffet once stated, "Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked." The economic tide will likely continue to wash out over the next 12-18 months, and with it the false perceived success of all those living beyond their means. In they end, millions will be lined up on the beach completely exposed, standing alongside Paris Hilton, and all wearing the Empress's New Clothes.