It's about time somebody said something nice about the rich. The media, politicians and the middle and lower classes are constantly trashing them.

What are the rich really like? Rich people believe in God and country and tax cuts. They have homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach, Aspen, Malibu and Paris. They pay $15 million for a house and $15 million more to fix it up so it will appear in Architectural Digest.

There is nouveau riche and there is old money. Donald Trump is a nouveau riche who puts his name on every building in the United States. He flies on jets and helicopters, and sails on yachts. He is a television star. On his show he explains to fledging executives how they can also get rich. Trump doesn't have to worry about joining a country club. If he can't get in, he'll build one.

Old money tries to stay out of the papers and magazines. The only time they get in is when a supermarket tabloid shows a picture of one of them topless at the beach in Capri.

What has happened recently is that the dress code has changed. The very rich people in Hollywood, New York and Silicon Valley show off their wealth by looking grungy. Torn T-shirts and ripped Levi's indicate how rich they really are. You can go to the finest restaurants if you are rich and they will let you in without a jacket or tie.

Rich women still dress up. They carry Prada handbags, wear Versace pantsuits in the daytime and black Christian Dior dresses with pearls at night. They will pay $500 for a pair of Gucci sneakers.

Rich people order expensive wines even if they have no idea what they're drinking. They know the maitre d' by his first name and tip heavily so they won't get a bad table.

Rich people don't root for sports teams -- they own them. The one thing rich people have to suffer is crooked rich people who cheat, embezzle and steal from their own companies to get even richer. Although there are not many of these shady rich people (check the front pages every day), they give honest rich people a bad name.

The crooked rich, when caught, will defend themselves by saying, "Everybody does it." If they are worried about going to jail they will rat on their crooked rich friends in exchange for a plea bargain. Usually the government will allow them to keep their mansions, and their wives can hold onto their diamond necklaces.

If there is any cloud in the happiness of rich people, it is with their children. Some, though not all, resent their parents being rich. They hate them because their parents buy them expensive cars and audio equipment, and finance spring break trips to Key West and Acapulco. Worst of all, much to the horror of their parents, some rich kids become Democrats and speak out against President Bush's tax cuts.

Those who say rich people are just like you and me don't know what they're talking about. They have their lives and we have ours. The main difference is that we have to take out our garbage, but the rich never see any.

In case you ever run into a rich person, don't be hostile. You can dream that someday you will be one of them and find the "Bluebird of Happiness."

(c) 2004, Tribune Media Services