Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Green-eyed monsters on the golden treadmill

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-08-07


A warning for those seeking happiness on the Howardian aspirational treadmill: a 2007-07-05 NY Times article reports on millionaires who don’t feel rich.  It’s the "I feel good if I’ve made it relative to my neighbor" issue, a recipe for a Red Queen scenario.

It seems a greenback is worth less to a green-eyed monster.

“Everyone around here looks at the people above them,” said … “It’s just like Wall Street, where there are all these financial guys worth $7 million wondering what’s so special about them when there are all these guys worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Ohhh, the poor guy.  Let’s hear from another…

Mr. Kremen estimated his net worth at $10 million. That puts him firmly in the top half of 1 percent among Americans, according to wealth data from the Federal Reserve, but barely in the top echelons in affluent towns like Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton. So he logs 60- to 80-hour workweeks because, he said, he does not think he has nearly enough money to ease up.

These are multimillionaire wage slaves, doomed by a twisted view of the world into really poor work-life balance and impoverished lives.

They admit (between the lines) that if everybody had a car or house worth half as much they’d feel little different.  They won’t admit they are driven by envy or a desire to look on others below them.

Still, there are a few who are smart, who stop "upsizing your life to your cash flow" and "jump off the golden treadmill".

But whether still running in quicksand or not, at least these millionaires who feel poor are more honest than most of Howard’s aspirationals who won’t admit their problems, that is, those who are actually smart enough to realize the trap they’ve fallen into.

Howard’s battlers.  Will they fall for it again?  Will Rudd promise it to them?

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4 Responses to “Green-eyed monsters on the golden treadmill”

  1. raf said

    Funny and sad but true. As we’ve read in Status Anxiety and Affluenza, this is a dominating force in modern society or should i say post-modern.

    As someone who jumped off the treadmill 7 years ago i can relate to this especially when i see some colleagues still doing the same jobs but never seeming “better off”. Believe me the first class lifestyle takes a lot of moolah to support it. I just pulled the plug and moved to NZ…..i sometimes watch from a distance and breath a sigh of relief.

    Mind you i;m heading back to Blighty for the first time in nearly 6 years feeling a mixture of excitement and dread. Whenever someone says you must be really out of it in Christchurch i go yeah its great.

  2. Dave Bath said

    I know it’s been covered before, and The Economist had discussed happiness in places following the US model dependent on having more than the guy next door, that the phenomenon is so blatant, even for people in the wealthiest 0.5% of the "wealthiest" nation on the planet… well, makes "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" seem hollow… couldn’t resist.

  3. But whether still running in quicksand or not, at least these millionaires who feel poor are more honest than most of Howard’s aspirationals who won’t admit their problems, that is, those who are actually smart enough to realize the trap they’ve fallen into.

    You losers. Just because you can always find someone who is dominated by greed to a fault doesn’t mean that this somehow represents ‘Howard’s aspirationals’. The vast majority of these people love their lives, love being productive and working hard, love the way the extra material goods enhance their lives, and love the fact that wealth allows them to take holidays overseas and pursue more expensive hobbies/sports/recreations. At a basic level there are still plenty of Gen X and older who find solice in the security that the wealth they can now earn provides them and their families, having managed to move on from working class families themselves.

    Furthermore, just because they pursue these things and enjoy consumer culture doesn’t mean they have forsaken all the other good things in life. They are stil enjoying their families, friends and communities and are more aware of eating well, exercising and remaining as healthy as possible for long as possible. The wealth and material goods enhance these aspects of their lives and they know it.

  4. Dave Bath said

    Michael, you say

    "You losers. Just because you can always find someone who is dominated by greed to a fault doesn’t mean that this somehow represents ‘Howard’s aspirationals’."

    Thanks.  I just realized how long this comment was, and liked it so much I’ve moved it into a separate post "Green-eyed monsters and golden treadmills (2)"

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