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somebody get me a tissue August 5, 2007

Posted by KG in misc, tech.
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excerpts from nytimes article about silicon valley millionaires:

“But many such accomplished and ambitious members of the digital elite still do not think of themselves as particularly fortunate, in part because they are surrounded by people with more wealth — often a lot more.

When chief executives are routinely paid tens of millions of dollars a year and a hedge fund manager can collect $1 billion annually, those with a few million dollars often see their accumulated wealth as puny, a reflection of their modest status in the new Gilded Age, when hundreds of thousands of people have accumulated much vaster fortunes.

“There are all these people who come to you for money,” Ms. Holland said. “Siblings, parents, other relatives. Organizations seeking charitable contributions. There’s this assumption you have all this money — so why don’t you write a big check to the school or to this other charity?”

Other pressures can come from within the social circle. Mr. Barbagallo, for instance, remembers when several couples tried cajoling his wife and him — unsuccessfully — to fly to Las Vegas for a charity event featuring Andre Agassi.

“You look around,” Mr. Barbagallo said, “and the pressures to spend more are everywhere.” Children want the latest fashions their peers are wearing and the most popular high-ticket toys. Furniture does not seem up to snuff once you move into a multimillion-dollar home. Spouses talk, and now that resort in Mexico the family enjoyed so much last winter is not good enough when looking ahead to next year. Summer camp, a full-time housekeeper, vintage wines, country clubs: the cost of living bloats.

To Mr. Milletti, it all looks like a marathon with no finish line.

“Here, the top 1 percent chases the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and the top one-tenth of 1 percent chases the top one-one-hundredth of 1 percent,” he said.

“You try not to get caught up in it,” he added, “but it’s hard not to.”

ram dass, formerly harvard psychology professor dr. richard alpert phd., from be here now:

“Here I was, sitting with the boys of the first team in cognitive psychology, personality psychology, developmental psychology, and in the midst of this I felt here were men and women who, themselves, were not highly evolved beings. Their own lives were not fulfilled. There was not enough human beauty, human fulfillment, human contentment. I worked hard and the keys to the kingdom were handed to me. I was being promised all of it. I had felt I had got into whatever the inner circle meant: I could be Program Chairman for Division 7 of the A.P.A. and I could be on government committees, and have grants, and travel about and sit on doctorate committees. But there was still that horrible awareness that I didn’t know something or other which made it all fall together. And there was a slight panic in me that I was going to spend the next forty years not knowing, and that apparently was par for the course. And in off hours, we played “Go,” or poker, and cracked old jokes. The whole thing was too empty. It was not honest enough.

And there was some point as a professor at Stanford and Harvard when I experienced being caught in some kind of meaningless game in which the students were exquisite at playing the role of students and the faculty were exquisite at playing the role of faculty. I would get up and say what I had read in books and they’d all write it down and give it back as answers on exams but nothing was happening. I felt as if I were in a sound-proof room. Not enough was happening that mattered–that was real.”

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