12/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Old Money Ponders The New Recession

"I think this country should be operating the way it used to be a long time ago which was if you take a risk, then you're going to be punished if it doesn't work out," said Kiliaen Van Rensselaer over drinks Saturday night at the Hotel Plaza Athenee hotel on East 64th Street.

Mr. Van Rensselaer knows something about how the country operated a long time ago: his great-, great-, many-times-over-great-grandfather of the same name was co-founder of the Dutch West India Company and presided over Rensselaerswyck, a swath of roughly 1,200 square miles of present-day upstate New York. The first Lord of the Manor, as he was called, expired in 1643, but the accomplishments of his descendents--count one general in the Revolutionary War, numerous congressmen, a couple lieutenant governors--assured the Van Rensselaer name longevity.

Now 38, the current Kiliaen Van Rensselaer grew up in Westport, Conn., and moved to Manhattan after college.

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