Even if we acknowledge our country's dizzying levels of celebrity intoxication, it's only like every day now that the growing abyss between middle class mortals that are America's backbone and The Important People becomes more obvious.
It's why we really can't compare our lives to theirs. They run in their own circles of detachment. We run on treadmills.
Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade illustrated the point last week.
Both said they believed NBA players should be provided monetary compensation for playing in the Olympics.
And so while you hum a few choruses of The Stars And Stripes Forever, here are a few of their observations, given to various media outlets:
Ray Allen: "You talk about the patriotism, but you (need to) find a way to entice the guys. It's not the easiest thing in the world if you play deep in the playoffs and then you get two, three weeks off and then you start training again to play more basketball where it requires you to be away from home and in another country. It's fun, but your body does need a break.
"Everybody says, 'Play for your country.' But (NBA players are) commodities. You do camps in the summer, you have various opportunities to make money. When you go overseas and play basketball, you lose those opportunities, what you may make."
Dwyane Wade: "It's a lot of things you do for the Olympics, a lot of jerseys you sell. We play the whole summer. I do think guys should be compensated. … The biggest thing is now you get no rest. So you go to the end of the season, (Team USA) training camp is two weeks later. You're giving up a lot to do it. It's something you want to do. But it's taxing on your body. You're not playing for the dollar. But it would be nice if you would get compensated."
Wade later employed a common practice among Important People who say dumb things. He "clarified" his thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, so all of his sycophants could sleep better:
"I want to clear this up personally," he wrote. "I responded to a specific question asked by a reporter on my thoughts of Olympians being paid. I never asked to be paid to play. What I was referencing is there is a lot of Olympic business that happens that athletes are not a part of. It's a complicated issue. … But my love for the game and pride for the USA motivates me more than any dollar amount."
Glad he cleared that up.
And all the men and women getting their limbs shot off on the other side of the world must be terribly proud to see they're fighting for … this.
Must be comforting to be so blissfully ignorant of anything that resembles real life. Maybe living vicariously through some of these people is a harmless way to pass the time. Just know that wealth staged a coup d'état on their common sense long ago.
There was a time, fairly recently, when circumstances would have prevented Allen and Wade from such a public stance for Olympic compensation. Remember when we were awash in patriotism in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001? This, too, has passed.
I doubt Allen and Wade are alone in believing that playing for your country clearly has lost its cachet. Pride alone just isn't enough incentive. It's too tiring. Not enough bang for not enough bucks.
Funny, though, how the lack of a sufficient rest period doesn't stop women's basketball players. Ever. They play year-round all the time, Olympic years included. Turns out Helen Reddy must have been right about women being strong and invincible.
I mean, if wearing "USA" on your chest and representing who we are, what we do and what we stand for isn't enough motivation, should we view it a stunning upset anymore that the rest of the world hates us? Look at what we've created.
And the number of dullards out there who excuse what Allen and Wade said with an absorbing "hey, they're just expressing an opinion" are just as culpable. And moronic.
I have the good fortune of knowing some Olympians this year: several women's basketball players and the lone U.S. windsurfer, Connecticut College graduate Bob Willis.
Let me just say this: At least they understand our colors are red, white and blue. Not green. That wearing the letters "USA" doesn't mean "Unlimited Sickening Affluence." The utter joy conveyed through an email Willis sent when he knew he qualified for the Olympics and the excitement in Lindsay Whalen's voice when she was picked for the women's basketball team captured the Olympic ideal.
Let's not forget this is the Olympics. A little more important than already rich people making a few more bucks off a few more jerseys sold.
One last note for Allen and Wade: The U.S. Olympic Committee provides every American with $25,000 for winning a gold medal, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze. So there is some compensation.
Guess that's not enough.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.