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It’s All Relative (Or Is It?)

Mary Schmidt

Mar 02, 2012

Toddlers tantrum


A Facebook friend posted this, Wall Street Bonus Withdrawal Means Trading Aspen for Coupons, with the note, “It’s all relative.” 

The article begins with a quote from a man who makes $350,000 a year and is finding it tough going with his lower than expected bonus. (Yes, he’s still getting one.)

Andrew Schiff was sitting in a traffic jam in California this month after giving a speech at an investment conference about gold. He turned off the satellite radio, got out of the car and screamed a profanity.
“I’m not Zen at all, and when I’m freaking out about the situation, where I’m stuck like a rat in a trap on a highway with no way to get out, it’s very hard,” Schiff, director of marketing for broker-dealer Euro Pacific Capital Inc., said in an interview.

Certainly, as such things go, our lifestyle needs tend to increase along with our income.  The more you make, the more you spend - that’s, after all, the American way, isn’t it?

I don’t begrudge Mr. Schiff making money. I do, however, feel sorry for him.  No zen for him. Having to get out of the car and scream because “The New York that I wanted to have is still just beyond my reach.”  That’s simply pathetic.

Of course, I can’t possibly understand the stress.  Happy me. No worries here!

“People who don’t have money don’t understand the stress,” said Alan Dlugash, a partner at accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron LLP in New York who specializes in financial planning for the wealthy. “Could you imagine what it’s like to say I got three kids in private school, I have to think about pulling them out? How do you do that?”

(Schiff’s daughter is a student at $32,000-a-year Poly Prep Country Day School.)

Do I really have to dissect that one for you?  (Are you finished laughing yet?) 

Moving on…Of course, as the article notes, wealthy New Yorkers bemoaning having to “cut back” is as old as - well - Old New York.  Pick up pretty much any Edith Wharton book for a glimpse of the real entitlement society.  (Wharton was also a fabulous writer. Looking for a great read read? Her ghost stories are a great place to start.  But I digress…) 

Here’s the saddest thing of all. The people interviewed in the article apparently saw nothing wrong with complaining about having to cut back.  And, they did it on the record, in print. 

Now, imagine what you could do with that $32,000. That would, for example, fund TWO village projects for Global Hope Network.  Help many children get an education.

But, it’s all relative.

Or is it?


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