The insides of The Australian Financial Review are often filled with truth. They are often filled with delusion, too. But even delusion, like that slowly vanishing one in which suck-up neoliberal techniques become noble deeds done by the rich for the undeserving poor, can be understood as truth. Even AFR spin is kind of true, or as true as any tale told of financialised fiction.

But the truth… We look inside the AFR for the truth about private debt. We look inside the AFR for the open admission that, yes, a business will claim to be diverse more for the sake of business than for diversity’s sake. We look inside the AFR to see if the crisis reported by checkout robots — they now ask me if I’d like to split my grocery payment over two credit cards — is also reported there. If I want to know the truth about economic shifts, I look to the paper that can not afford to tell lies about them. Rich bastards need to know if poor bastards are about to default in great number on their mortgages. Rich bastards read about crisis first, even if if they feel it last, or barely.

I can’t be the only povo who regularly looks inside the AFR for truth. I can’t be the only AFR reader who finds its special rich lists a little, I don’t know, off brand? I am sure there are individuals with glorious portfolios, high net worth and reserves that rival Tim Cook’s petty cash drawer who think it cheap, dishonest and full of lucky thickos who definitely won’t reappear next year.

Next year, some of the expensively spray-tanned youngies in last Friday’s Under 40 Rich List will have cashed in their filial bonds.

The Fin Review mag is printed on quality card stock. It looks as though it smells of a fragrance sample that can only ever be sampled, never bought, by those outside the one percent of the one percent. But it actually smells of quality card stock. Not a strong smell. A smell almost empty of smell as money is empty of meaning.

The issue, informally dubbed Young Rich is of a design so tasteful, it barely appears as design. But its text quotes youngsters so vulgar, it really doesn’t feel like the official rag of the Wentworth division at all. These Hot Millennial Wealth Hackers, or whatever nonsense they’re calling that diminishing group of persons under 50 able to knock a housing deposit together, are twits.

If they’re not actual twits who openly claim to have never heard the word “entrepreneur” before meeting their very first venture capitalist, then they sound like imitation Silicon Valley oligarchs. They’re not smooth. They’re not pictures of tasteful restraint, such as non-povo readers of the AFR imagine themselves to be, and all front yards in Wentworth must be.

A rather good bit from this edition is the 2003 Young Rich List: Where Are They Now. It fails to affirm the need for a Young Rich List by not actually mentioning any truly memorable or notable success. My inner-teen enjoyed the mediocrity of kids from better homes than mine. My inner midlife spinster, also myself, enjoyed a spot of “Well. There you go. Greed is unsightly. Youth fades.”

Of course, the Class of 2003, actually persons of my age, are immensely comfy one-percenters who seem happy to manage the unsurprising travel companies their dads fund and content to be the providers of financial advice admired by no one at all, except others in the employment category-turned-Satan worship after the banking royal commission.

The edition’s cover girl is very pretty to look at, but frustratingly dull to read. Which could be the fault of the reporter, who makes the point that she is more than a pretty face, but fails to convince me that the more is anything more than an estimated value of her Bikini Body Guide interactive app property.

A guide to better boobs is, of course, “disruptive”. Almost everything is disruptive, here, including those financial whiz-kids, who disruptively do stuff like disrupt productive capitalism and turn it into a thing that only produces better dividends, not jobs and not innovations, which I don’t think is “disruptive” these days, unless it’s a new way to produce pretend money for real people.

I don’t think the AFR reader is buying this breathy stuff.

The Young Rich List is recommended every year to any person briefly comforted by the thought that it doesn’t take brains, ingenuity or a clue to make a pile of money. It just takes money. It is not recommended to genuine snobs.

I do recommend sniffing the edition to all persons. It smells like wealth.


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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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