If there’s a bright spot in the economic meltdown, it’s all these stories about the formerly rich who are now living with their parents and trolling for job offers on Craigslist. Here’s the latest, a CNN piece about an out-of-work banker bemoaning the loss of his fancy cars, expensive suits and extravagant vacations.
I was really enjoying the story at first. There’s nothing better than seeing venal swine get what they have coming to them. Then I got to the part about how much the guy made during his “high-flying” days in the banking industry: $70,000 a year. Can that be right? How fancy could those cars have been, how extravagant the vacations? Was he driving to a reservation casino in a 3-year-old Hyundai? I’m going to guess CNN dropped a zero there at the end. If not, I feel kind of guilty about my initial chortling.
However, I was still happy to read that real estate has tanked in the Hamptons. New York Times Magazine has a story about it, leading with an anecdote about a home initially priced at $2.2 million, now under $1.7 million and still languishing on the market. Hard times indeed. Then I read a little more and realized that’s still twice what it sold for in 2003. And it’s still the owners’ second home. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. Only New York Times Magazine could wring pathos from that.
I guess I’m still looking for the definitive riches-to-rags story, the one that will prove America has learned its lesson and that all greedy crooks eventually end up pushing their belongings around in shopping cart. Yeah, Bernie Madoff is going off to jail, but what about everybody else? Shouldn’t his wife be reduced to turning tricks in Queens? Shouldn’t the geniuses at AIG be collecting aluminum cans instead of drawing bonuses? The occasional stories about fatcats getting thin are gratifying, but they’re no substitute for justice.