Working-Class Millionaires

Personally, when someone says "working-class millionaire," I think "guy with a high-school education who ends up running a really successful chain of car dealerships." The New York Times, however, thinks "people in Silicon Valley who 'only' have a few million dollars in the bank." Of this phenomenon, Matt writes:

This is part of the weirdness of the new era of hyper-inequality, where not only does the top one percent pulls away from the other 99 percent, but the top 0.001 percent pulls away from the other 99.999 percent. Even very rich people feel the even richer pulling further and further away and don't feel themselves to be as privileged as, objectively speaking, they really are.

Hyper-inequality is part of the story here, no doubt; on the other hand, I'm pretty sure there have always been people who are rich by any normal standard, but want to live the lifestyle of the super-rich and find themselves scrambling to keep up. And my interest in/sympathy for their plight is ... limited. To my mind, the most telling passage in the piece is this:

David Koblas, a computer programmer with a net worth of $5 million to $10 million, imagines what his life would be like if he left Silicon Valley. He could move to a small town like Elko, Nev., he says, and be a ski bum. Or he could move his family to the middle of the country and live like a prince in a spacious McMansion in the nicest neighborhood in town.

But Mr. Koblas, 39, lives with his wife, Michelle, and their two children in Los Altos, south of Palo Alto, where the schools are highly regarded and the housing prices are inflated accordingly. So instead of a luxury home, the family lives in a relatively modest 2,000-square-foot house — not much bigger than the average American home — and he puts in long hours at Wink, a search engine start-up founded in 2005.

“I’d be rich in Kansas City,” he said. “People would seek me out for boards. But here I’m a dime a dozen.”

Poor baby.

Update: Okay, fine, I am pretty interested in their (non-)plight. I didn't just read the story, after all; I blogged about it. As did everybody else, apparently.