13 August 2007

"Working-class millionaires"

I meant to post this a few days ago. It's another one of those "are you seriously telling me this is front page news" kind of stories. The Sunday NYT - which normally averages a 60:40 ratio of news to advertising - devoted a full-page spread to the plight of millionaires and multi-millionaires living in Silicon Valley, California. We are told these are "nose-to-the-grind-stone" people who "toil" in the "Silicon Valley salt mines", working 12-hour days at "all-consuming jobs" - and, believe it or not, sometimes a whole day at the weekend. As a university researcher/teacher who regularly works 70-hour weeks, this one really sticks in my gullet. Maybe it's a sour grape? (And just in case you don't know what professors at one of the USA's top research universities earn, it's all public knowledge and there's also this snippet from CNN.)

Speaking of the "salt mine" working conditions of Silicon Valley, I include a couple of pictures related to the six miners currently trapped underground in Huttington, Utah. Miners. Now there are people who know what harsh working conditions are like. There are people who, I imagine, understand long working days and excessive working weeks. (The can always confirm this or there's this from USA Today.) If not, then what of high school teachers, nurses, restaurant workers, fruit pickers,...

And so, back to a few words of suffering from some of the "working-class millionaires" from the NYT article:

"A few million doesn't go as far as it used to."

"I always ask myself, 'Do I deserve it?'"

"I'd be rich in Kansas City. ... But here I'm a dime a dozen."

"Poor Tony, he'll never be able to retire." [with only $1.2 million left in savings]

"You look around and the pressures to spend more are everywhere."

"Here, the top 1 percent chases the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and the top one-tenth of 1 percent chases the top one-one-hundredth of 1 percent."
Fewer salary checks, more reality checks.

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