A number of readers have commented on today’s Bloomberg article detailing the woes of the once-rich, now-poor Wall Street types. For another view, read this article by one of my favorites, Meagan MCardle. She’s no richer than the rest of us poor slobs but can empathize. And I’m with her. Before you jump all over this post, please read her article to see what she’s saying. You might even agree, at least in part.
I could understand the laughter if the people in the article had been moaning about how terrible and unjust it is to be forced to suffer along on $350,000 a year. But in fact, none of the affluent people he speaks to hold out their experience as somehow equivalent to that of a famine-stricken child in Somalia–”they aren’t asking for sympathy”, says one source; “I wouldn’t want to whine”, says another. The closest we get to a “poor little me” is M. Todd Henderson: “Yes, terminal diseases are worse than getting the flu,” he said. “But you suffer when you get the flu.”The fact is that no matter how much you make, seeing your income fall below the expenses you’ve committed to is difficult. Obviously, people whose expenses are closer to the minimum deserve more of our sympathy, and our help. But I’m not sure that this means we’re supposed to be happy when it happens to someone richer than we are. It’s not very attractive when conservatives rejoice to see union members thrown out of work. I’m not sure this is much better.