When most parents drop their kids off at school, they hope their son or daughter will get on well with other kids and not be exposed to bullying. Yet, in China, it was the parents doing the bullying after a dad dropped his son off in his Ferrari 488 GTB, which is valued at roughly $350,000.
The father, known only as Mr. Li, didn’t think anything of showing off his incredibly expensive sportscar, yet he soon realized that not everyone appreciates ostentatiousness, especially in China, where the median income is roughly $12,500 a year. After he got home, Li vented about the treatment he received from parents and staff at the school in an online chatroom, called WeChat, but few sympathized with his predicament and suggested he buy another car to drive his son to school.
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“It’s not proper. You should not show off, no matter how rich you are," one parent said, while another added, “If it’s just dropping the kid at school, can’t you just use a regular car? You are not short of money anyway.”
Li, who is a senior executive in a property development company, earns an average of $578,000 per year and sees nothing wrong with flaunting his wealth. A teacher, however, told him that it was leading to unnecessary chatter in the classroom, where kids were more focused on the wealth of their classmate than on their studies. The teacher also suggested he buy a cheaper model for school drop-offs.
Li responded by saying “If [seeing others] driving a racing car hurts feelings, your children are too sensitive. Besides, why should I buy another car just to serve your needs?” Soon after, he was blocked from the chatroom. In China, the incident has sparked much online debate about whether or not Li was in the right or whether he should exercise some modesty and buy a second car to drop his son off.
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“The teacher and the parents who were offended have failed to teach children the right values on life and money. Can they make luxury products vanish from the world?” one online commenter said. Meanwhile, another disagreed, writing, “Wealth gap is a real thing. It’s better to educate children to face it rather than castigate others for driving sports cars to show off their wealth."
On the bright side, China has vowed to eradicate poverty by 2020, so perhaps everyone will soon be driving a Ferrari 488 GTB. For now, the country still has 30 million people living below the poverty line, so it’s understandable that many are still sensitive about flashy displays of wealth. As for the teachers at the school, they should look on the bright side. The Ferrari 488 GTB goes from 0–124 mph in 8.3 seconds so Li’s son will probably never be late for school.