The Breakfast Table

Imploding Dot-Coms and Enrons: Punishment for Our Wretched Excess

I have to go first, or not at all, so forgive me, Chris. My computer went on the blink at home, so I had to leave the heater repairman (whom I asked to help fix it; technologically naive, I figure if you can fix a heat pump, you can fix a hard drive). I have to go back momentarily.

I was struck this morning once again at how rich people are different from you and me. There were the Barclay bankers, spending $62,000 at dinner; the NBA star shooting his chauffeur at his 65-acre house with three swimming pools and a mini-golf course; and yesterday’s description of how the Enron execs moved in tandem up the real estate ladder in Houston, all with mini-mansions, and then with similar rock star cars. Whatever happened to inconspicuous consumption? Don’t they know we hated the ‘90s? The implosion of the dot-coms and the catching up with the balance sheets of various high-flying corporations (Enron just being one) are at least some punishment for the wretched excess that’s enveloped us. At least the fawning profiles and memoirs of business execs should be at a merciful end. It shouldn’t have taken 9/11 for us to admire the people who deserve it, but it did. A firefighter didn’t have a chance of being singled out amid the hagiography accorded Jennifer Aniston and Jack Welch.

You can get us back onto more serious world affairs if you’d like, and I promise to make up for going first—and so slightly—after lunch.