09/17/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Washington Post Profile Describes The Economic Misery Of Well-Off People

Have you heard about this nationwide economic crisis we're facing? Yeah, a lot of people are hurting out there. But riddle me this: does any journalist have the guts to stare into the pit of despair in which people who are making $300,000 a year are trapped? The Washington Post's Anne Hull does, and guess what? THESE PEOPLE ARE JUST "SQUEAKING BY!" As someone whose household income tax form lists "blogger" and "public school teaching assistant" as occupations, it's high time I vigorously palpated whatever gland manufactures superfluous pity!

Here's what the recession looks like to Laura Steins, whose skin is resolutely "golden" and whose "wet hair" bravely "radiates confidence."

But she's months overdue for a visit to her colorist, a telltale sign of economic distress for a woman such as Steins. The smell in the basement could mean a crack in the septic line; unlike a $200 hair appointment, a plumber will be in the thousands. And from the breakfast table comes one more urgent need from a 10-year-old.

"At my birthday party, every single girl had a phone," says Katie Steins, making the case that an enV2 phone with matching cover is just standard in her crowd.

Steins kneels down to face her daughter. "If you continue to tell the world how undesirable your phone is -- it's not a flip, it's not a swivel, it's not an LG -- you will not have a phone."

Steins takes a breath. Life in this $2.5 million house was built on the premise of two incomes, not the income of a divorced mother of three in a tanked economy. Her property taxes are $35,000 a year, the nanny is $40,000 and the gardener is $500 a month.

"I can ride this storm out," says Steins, which means having tiger-striped hair and getting her kid a generic cellphone and ignoring the stinking basement.

Indeed. Couldn't it be said that the stink of her basement is a jarring symbol of the way we live now, in these tempestuous, recessionary times? No. It could not. Not in a million years.

The piece goes on at length, describing the predicament of those who, like Laura Steins, live in Harrison, New York. Even as the "sandwiches at Patisserie Salzburg" sit there, mockingly "wrapped in wax paper and tied in pink ribbon," the world of the $300K set is a brutal panorama of abject economic despair. Nannies go unhired. "The billions of dollars lost in investments are still gone." STILL GONE! And yet, "for all of the lives shaken, few are willing to talk about it." Maybe because they have "self-awareness" and "lots of disposable income."

Astoundingly, the words "health care reform" do not appear in this article! I, for one, would like to know if the Steinses support a robust public option or if they feel their family can scrape by as part of some health care co-op. (Also, no indication that anyone is paying off a mortgage, which is pretty fortunate!)

The article concludes: "Perfect looks perfect from a distance." Uhm...doesn't "perfect look perfect" close up as well? That sort of does not make any sense. But then, neither does this article! What exactly brought Laura Steins to this lowly state? Her divorce. Recall that "life in this $2.5 million house was built on the premise of two incomes," and that now, Steins "receives $75,000 a year in child support from her ex-husband." This is not a story of recessionary woes. It's the story of the consequences of a ruined relationship.

At any rate, this is a special article, detailing the misery of those who can still happily afford to purchase subscriptions to newspapers. But what makes this article extra special is that despite the fact that there are people in McLean, Virginia and Potomac, Maryland who are also just "squeaking by" on $300,000 a year, the Post felt it necessary to troop out to Westchester County, New York to file this story. That means that this is not just an article on the plight of the comfortably affluent, it's a needlessly expensive article on the plight of the comfortably affluent. Maybe the recession really is over!

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