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March 05, 2022

Rich forced to ditch country clubs, summer homes post-recession

In the years during and since the recession, it’s been no small feat drumming up sympathy for the rich.

Stock-photo-16651936-money-being-takenLike everyone else, they had their jobs threatened, paycheques cut and lifestyles changed. Like everyone else, they were forced to adapt to a new world where money isn’t what it once was.

Though at a time when people were being booted from their homes, not just their country clubs, feeling sorry for the wealthy has been one tough sell.

Which is what makes this feature from Bloomberg so interesting.

I stared at this mini-profile on the altered realities of the rich for more than an hour recently, deciding just what opinion, if any, to form from the narrative.

*Bing: What is Canada’s average income?

In short, the piece highlights how the affluent are coming along in their bonus-slashed world, still getting by on six figures but no longer getting by on seven. At times, given some of the quotes I’ve picked out below, it’s tough to tell if Bloomberg’s reporter, Max Abelson, is in on the joke. A couple of the “Wait, they’re not serious, right?” lines from the still-rich featured in the piece:

1) “I feel stuck. The New York that I wanted to have is still just beyond my reach.” – Andrew Schiff, a director of marketing who now earns a lower bonus, on how his $350,000 income no longer covers his kids’ private school tuition and Connecticut summer home rental.
2) “They have a circular that they leave in front of the buildings in our neighbourhood. We sit there (now), and I look through all of them to find out where it’s worth going.” – A Wall Street headhunter, Daniel Arbeeny, on his new grocery shopping habits. Admitting his income has gone down “tremendously” since the recession, the 49-year-old is now forced to scan supermarket flyers for deals, lamenting that he now drives to weekend markets to buy salmon for $5.99 a pound.
3) "Yes, terminal diseases are worse than getting the flu, but you suffer when you get the flu.” – A University of Chicago law professor, M. Todd Henderson, characterizing that while poor people losing money is more drastic, it still hurts the rich, too.

At this point, I should clarify my above point about struggling to form an opinion here, because that should read I’m struggling to form a unique opinion about the perils of the wealthy.

Instead of dismissing the trials of the rich when they are, relatively speaking, ridiculous to most of the world, could there really be an argument made to empathize with what’s happening?

The best I could come up with is the kids. While having to scrap a week at the Hamptons and ditch the $7,500 annual golf membership is hardship, it’s nonetheless unfortunate that many children are having to be pulled from school through no fault of their own. It doesn’t defend sending kids to super-expensive private schools in the first place, but it’s the best argument I can find for feeling sorry for the humbled rich, post-recession.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...