Friday, October 22, 2010

James Fallows on the Whinging Rich, as Exemplified by University of Chicago Law Professor Todd Henderson

James Fallows on the Whinging Rich, as Exemplified by University of Chicago Law Professor Todd Henderson

Now, More Criticism of the Self-Pitying Wealthy Poor - James Fallows - National - The Atlantic

They are all good. Selections::

More on the Wealthy Poor and a "Fair" Society - James Fallows - National - The Atlantic: The report I'm about to mention has been actively discussed in other parts of the online world, so by my normal triage rules I shouldn't say anything about it. But I hadn't heard about  it until yesterday, and on the chance that's true for others, I'll point it out. The context is the previous discussion, here and here, about the capacity for feeling short-changed and ill-treated, even among some of the most materially-fortunate people ever to live on Earth. No doubt it's a primal human trait, but for various reasons (as explained here) the ever-polarizing distribution of wealth and income in America has allowed more people to feel bad about their own situation by looking at the handful who are stratospherically better off. To some extent this is an "information" problem: people don't know where they really stand...

Mauve Gloves & Madmen, 2010 Version: Self-pity is the great vice. Or entitlement, to give it another name. It's socially un-useful, in making people grasping and uncharitable. And it's personally bad too, in focusing attention on what's not there rather than what is. One of many things I enjoy about modern China is that the average self-pity level there is pretty low. The occasion for this homily is a modern counterpart to Mauve Gloves & Madmen. Thirty-plus years after I first read it, I vividly remember that short story of Tom Wolfe's. Its set-up was a stylish and popular and liberal-chic writer going through his checkbook and revealing his life through the deposits and the canceled checks. After the jump, a sample passage. Mauve Gloves was in the tradition of great realist or naturalistic fiction that presents character through material circumstances. And now we have an unintentional modern counterpart, a law professor at the University of Chicago who has (unwisely) taken to the internet to explain why, on a household income that must be substantially above $300,000, he is feeling put-upon and strapped...

The Self-Pity of the Harvard 'Poor': Context is the ongoing discussion provoked by 21st Century America's Marie Antoinette, the University of Chicago law professor who worried how his family woul...


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