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Regarding Obama's stimulus package:

"That is pretty draconian -- $500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus," said James F. Reda, founder and managing director of James F. Reda & Associates, a compensation consulting firm. "And you know these companies that are in trouble are not going to pay much of an annual dividend."

Yes, I often think to myself, "how could anyone live on $500,000 a year?  It's like something in the middle ages.  Except, you know, with granite countertops and private schools for the kids."  But then I started doing volunteer work on the Upper East Side, and you wouldn't believe how cunning those people can be at making a dollar stretch--two for one deals at Nobu during Restaurant Week, discount Dior, making the drapes do for another season.  Maybe figuring out how to live on such meagre returns will be valuable training for figuring out how to operate a financial services firm without regular infusions of taxpayer cash.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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