Most of the commentary that's come in the wake of the Todd Henderson fiasco--he's "the whiny professor" whose primal scream (since deleted, but cached here) about the terrible unfairness of raising taxes on rich families like his own became a source of online fascination--has been appropriately caustic. (A sampling from TheAtlantic.com here, here and here.) What constructive advice Henderson has received has been along the lines of "fire your gardener" and "send your kids to public school," which would help stretch his estimated $450,000 income a little further.
That's all well and good. But how about some really radical advice on cutting back?
Henderson's lament reminded me of a curious and riveting Atlantic piece from 1977 that I stumbled upon several years ago. It, too, concerned a member of the wealthy professional class who obsessed about money. Only the author of this piece, who wrote under the pseudonym "John Brooke," had forsaken his lifestyle, marriage, and career as a journalist and dropped out of society altogether. The piece was titled "The Gentle Art of Poverty: How to live in Southern California on $2,000 a year," and it was illustrated with a picture of grand house--of the type Brooke presumably once owned, and Henderson still does--only the house was obstructed by bushes, as though Brooke had sneaked back to glimpse his old life.