The effects of Krugmanization on the stupid rich

A meditation on the stupid rich by Paul Krugman:

It’s yet another illustration of one of the remarkable revelations of recent years, the incredibly sensitive feelings of the superrich, who are so hurt at any suggestion that great wealth does not also go with great wisdom and great virtue that they threaten to take the economy with them and go home.
But we must make fun of such people — and not just because, I admit, it’s one of the pleasures of life. Let me quote from a wonderful essay by Molly Ivins (read the whole thing):

Satire is a weapon, and it can be quite cruel. It has historically been the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful.

… Making fun of billionaires who are clueless about economics, and lack the menschood to admit their mistakes, serves a couple of functions. It reminds the audience that being rich doesn’t mean that you know what you’re talking about; it also provides other rich people some incentive to think before they speak, and maybe even do some homework before preaching to the rest of us. I’m snarky for a reason.

What prompted this observation was a stupid rich person who said that hyperinflation in America is obvious if you’d just look at the rise in the prices of houses and high-end art in London, Manhattan and the Hamptons. It’s something I’m sure that keeps you all awake at night.

But let’s also remember that the reason prices in Manhattan, London and the Hamptons (hell, let’s add Washington, D.C., to the list) are shooting up for those obsessed with luxury living is because the rich have taken all the money.

Just one more thing. The results of last week’s elections mean the rules aren’t going to change anytime soon. Mocking the stupid rich is the only recourse we have right now.

Want to understand economics? Don’t watch CNBC.

Here’s an excerpt from a CNBC interview with IDA Ireland chief executive Martin Shanahan, of IDA Ireland, Irelland’s industrial development agency. CNBC allegedly understands global economics.  (Via the Irish Times):

CNBC: What has the weaker euro meant in terms of tourism?

Shanahan: So, I think, em, Ireland is a very globalised economy so we look to what is happening here as much as we do to what is happening in Europe and we look to what is happening in…

CNBC: You have pounds anyway don’t you still?

Shanahan: We have euros.

CNBC: You have euros in Ireland?

Shanahan: Yes. We have euros, which is eh…

CNBC: Why do you have euros in Ireland?

Shanahan: A strong recovery….

CNBC: Why do use euros in Ireland?

Shanhan: Why wouldn’t we have euros in Ireland?

CNBC: Huh. I’d use the pound.

Shanahan: We use euro.

CNBC: What about Scotland? I was using Scottish eh…

Shanahan: Scottish pounds.

CNBC: Scottish pounds.

Shanahan: They use Sterling.

CNBC: They use sterling?

Shanahan: They use sterling. But we use euro.

CNBC: What? Why would you do that?

Shanahan: Why wouldn’t we do that.

CNBC: Why didn’t Scotland? No wonder they wanted to break away.

Shanahan: They are part of the UK we are not.

CNBC: Aren’t you right next to er?

Shanahan: We are very close but entirely separate.

CNBC: It is sort of the same, same island isn’t it?

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland they have sterling.

CNBC: They do?

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland they use sterling.

CNBC: It is just too confusing…

Let’s begin with the first problem: The CNBC interviewer doesn’t know that Ireland is its own country. He thinks it’s part of the United Kingdom. Go to Dublin (or if you don’t want to travel that far, go to an Irish-American bar in Boston) and say the Irish are really Brits, and see if you don’t get your ass stomped. Something about potatoes and famine.

The second problem: The CNBC interviewer doesn’t know that Ireland is part of the eurozone. That’s the 18 countries that use the euro as their currency.

The third problem: The CNBC interviewer doesn’t know that Scotland uses the British pound. He thinks it has it’s own currency. Scotland is part of the U.K. It’s like asking if residents of Louisville use the Kentucky dollar.

The fourth problem: The CNBC interviewer doesn’t know that Northern Ireland isn’t in Ireland. It uses the pound because it’s part of the U.K. Being part of Britain is why people were getting blown up during “the Troubles.”

I realize the other interviewers on the set know their cohort is an idiot, but they let him go on, which makes them look stupid for not saying, “Dude. It’s another country. Like Canada isn’t part of the United States.”

(To which he probably would have responded, “But Canada uses the dollar.”)

Oh, and just to be clear. This isn’t confusing.

These are the people who go on TV every day and tell you how you should invest your money. You’d get better advice from a mattress.

Till debt do us part

According to this chart (click to enlarge):

marriage-stability-wedding-expensesThe more you spend on your wedding, the more likely you are to get a divorce.

OK, let me do a little math here.

When my wife and I decided to get married, our plan was to go City Hall and have a justice of the peace do the deed. Just seemed like a normal thing to do. Until my mother said, “Nope, you’re going to have a ceremony.”

So, here’s what we did.

We had the ceremony at our house, which at the time was a two-family building shared with a museum.

We bought flowers.

We had live music. There was a piano in our house, and my wife’s sister wanted to play the wedding march.

The wedding dinner was essentially a toned down version of a Thanksgiving dinner.

We didn’t send out invitations. Just called some family members and said “We’re getting married at our house.” So members of my family came in from New York and New Jersey and members of my wife’s family came in from Kentucky and Colorado. More than a dozen people. Fewer than 20. A couple of friends. Our landlords were taking a walk in the neighborhood, so we invited them in.

My mom found the minister to conduct the survey. I think I gave her $50 to $100.

For our post-wedding “reception,” a bunch of us hopped on the Staten Island Ferry (round trip, 25 cents a piece), and did a walking tour of Greenwich Village. I was the guide. I think we might have stopped for ice cream.

Everyone from out of town stayed at our house for the weekend.

So, adding this all up, I think the expense was in the low to mid-hundreds. Factor in time married (26 years), multiply by the likelihood of getting divorced (looks like nil) and carry the 1 … the calculator says we’ll be married …


(And I do know a few couples who spent a lot more and are now divorced.)