A couple earning well over US$300,000 a year, who own a house with big lawn and two nice cars should feel contented. Not necessarily, at least not in the case of a law professor at the University of Chicago.
Following Obama's proposal to let Bush's tax cut expire only on incomes above $250K, the law professor wrote and published on the internet an article explaining why he should, after paying taxes, mortgage, contribution to 401K, his children's private school education, etc., feel strapped. His article drew hate-mails from across the States. And, finally, "after a big fight with his wife", the professor deleted the article from his website. (Google "whining of the rich" or "whiny law professor" if you are interested.)
I guess the professor is not very smart. What made he think he should tell the whole world how much he and his wife are earning, how much taxes they are paying and how much they need to pay for their children's education is beyond me.
The whole episode gets me thinking though. Are there any comfortable-but-non-big-bucks options for the upper middle-class?
A few months ago a friend lent (gave?) me a book called 窮得有品味, Chinese translation of Die Kunst des stilvollen Verarmens by Alexander, Count of Schönburg-Glauchau. From the author's name, you can probably tell that his ancestors were members of one of the noble families in Germany. Now a poor journalist though, the author, by reason of family heritage, can tell an authentic Chagall from a well executed fake, the best champaign from the second best and know the top painters and sculptors. His book is about means to live like a noble in the most inexpensive way. Extremely entertaining and most inspiring, I really love the book. Strange that there is no English translation of it (I did a quick Wikicat and GoogleBook search and it appears to be the case. If I am wrong, please correct me). If you can read either German or Chinese or Japanese (there appears to be a Japanese version), I sincerely recommend it. It's so true that we don't need to live in the biggest houses, fly first class, go to the fanciest restaurants and drink Romanee Conti to live a good life.
Yesterday, a very good friend invited us to go to dinner at one of the most expensive restaurants in town to celebrate her birthday. Not that I don't want to go out with some good friends, but, what the point of spending many thousands of dollars to risk bumping into some celebrities who will spoil my mood? I don't fancy fancy restaurants and derive no satisfaction from going to places like Amber. Call me a cheapo but I prefer small restaurants with less than 20 tables that are owned by the chefs. I'm not sure whether I'm getting old or what (maybe wiser?) but I'm really tired of the rat race. Two weeks ago we sold our apartment and made a tiny profit. We have decided to move into a cheaper place. Moving into a smaller and cheaper place has multiple benefits: First, there are more options to us - my wife can choose not to work if she wants to and spend more time with Ho-Sum; I can have more time for books and music and can refuse to work with people I don't like. Second and perhaps more importantly, we do believe that we are doing our daughter a disservice if she lives too comfortable a life. It's about time she goes to school on public transport and takes care of herself. Living too ISFish won't do her any good.
富得有品味 is nothing; I prefer 窮得有品味.