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Feeling Sorry for the Rich

Feeling Sorry for the Rich

Living in New York city puts you face-to-face with the economic crisis on both ends of the spectrum. The guys who bought you and your girlfriends drinks all summer at rooftop bars are suddenly absent from the scene, or depending on you for a little kindness. Taxi drivers, manicurists and delivery men are mourning the loss of tips and customers. Everyone's got it bad.

Even those who have own a beautiful apartment uptown, a vacation home in Florida, a studio downtown, are dripping in diamonds and household help. Alexandra Penny tells the Daily Beast how she's lost it all...and frankly, it made me a little bit sick to my stomach.

Full disclosure: I also grew up pretty comfortably. I have a master's degree and live fairly well (though by no means as well as Ms. Penny.) I haven't had to scrape by like some people do, but I do have to manage my money and budget, especially in this city.

So that said, there is a part of me that feels sorry for Ms. Penny when she laments the loss of her life savings in the Madoff scandal. For those who aren't from around these parts, the net of the net is that the financier ran off with $50 billion in a giant Ponzi scheme, leaving many like Ms. Penny completely wiped out.

She seems to have worked really hard for the money she invested, some of it earned at less than glamorous jobs she toiled at as a single mom trying to raise a child in a harsh city. Still, I felt my contempt rising as she talked about having to let her maid go and sell off her second home and art studio.

There are so many people affected by our country's financial crisis who are in real dire straits. Who don't have the choices Ms. Penny has. They have lost their jobs, homes and cars. They have no jewels or art to sell, no properties that can bring in cash.  They work at low-level or mid-level jobs and many didn't have any savings or only a tiny nest egg.

What do you think? Should we feel bad for everyone who loses in investment schemes? Am I judging too harshly or assuming too much about Ms. Penny from her article? We'd love to hear your thoughts! -Kristen Ball



Posted: 12/18/08

What an article! I feel horrible for Ms. Penny! She may have made a ton of money, but it was all made from her own hard work and determination. She pulled herself up from her bootstraps and that's something to be admired. To work so hard and lose it all--I can't even fathom how devastating that must be.


I feel for everyone who has suffered the loss. It is without a doubt far more difficult for people who have nothing and are losing their jobs, homes, cars. However, for those people who have worked really hard and dared to take the risks and make the sacrifices to earn their fortunes - I feel for them too. It is an unfortunate time for too many. It is also a time when choices will be made, more risks will be taken, and innovation will make the difference and the result will be people who find a way to achieve great success. This is not a time to accept hard times, but rather find a way to change our circumstances and we all have the capability within us to do this.

  • By eherzer
  • on 12/18/08 11:02 PM EST

It reminds me of that very old saying about money being at the root of all evil ... the greed brought about money, especially the need to have increasing amounts of it seems to fuel the insanity.


I don't feel bad for everyone, but I do feel bad for people like this woman who worked really hard to achieve the American dream only to have it stolen out from under her. This is why the economy is where it is, right? Guys like Madoff taking hard-working people's life savings and giving to richer people.

I don't feel bad for people like the owner of the Mets or Steven Spielberg losing money, but for people who work hard and this amount is their life savings, this guy should be forced to find a way to pay them all back.