News & Politics

Recession Sufferings of the Rich Somehow Fail to Win Sympathy


The rich suffer, too, in our economic downturn. An expert tells the Times that while in their recent glory days the “top one ten-thousandth of households” were each worth about $11 million, they now make do with $6 million and $8 million.

The paper does admit that things were worse for the rich during the Great Depression, when they had to serve as butlers in screwball comedies. Also, in the late 1970s they scraped by on $2 million, but champagne and big cigars were much cheaper then, and most of us dressed so shabbily that the rich stood out even in semi-formal attire…

If you aren’t feeling their pain yet, the Times supplies a hard-luck story to personalize the issue. The guy who invented McAfee anti-virus software, for example, was sufficiently flush to create his own rich-people amusement park, with “a general store, a 35-seat movie theater and a cafe” and “vintage cars for his visitors to use.” Then one day he discovered, “Whoa, my cash is gone,” by which he meant he was down to $4 million. This left him “desperately trying to reduce his monthly expenses” by selling his jet and oceanfront home “on the secluded west side of the island of Molokai” (pictured).

Our eyes at this point are filled with tears of laughter, and even the final, crushing news that Obama might tax these sufferers by more than 40 percent cannot move us. How callous we have become! And we thought poverty was supposed to be ennobling.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 21, 2009

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