Reporter John Schwartz attempted some humor - and displayed unbecoming schadenfreude - in his Sunday essay for the front of the paper's special Mutual Funds Report section, "The HarderThey Fall, the More I Smile." Will Times readers worried about their net worth be smiling at that blithe headline?
There is, of course, an element of schadenfreude at play, but it's not simply that I'm happy because others are sad. That's sick; I would never rejoice at the suffering of my poor and middle-class countrymen who have fallen on hard times, or of the retirees looking at dwindling investments at the moment they need them most. True joy, my friends, is the feeling that comes from knowing that the right people are sad.
If you became obscenely rich riding this bubble, I'm taking pleasure in your fall. Of course, you are still undoubtedly richer than I will ever be. But it's also clear that being rich means much more to you than it has ever meant to me, so I know you're in pain. Which is good.
Later he released a killer anecdote, which he's evidently been holding on to for months, about a Denver lawyer who attended the Republican National Convention and ended up a victim of an embarrassing crime.
Here's what happened next, according to The St. Paul Pioneer Press, in a report that reads like blank verse:
"Once there, the woman fixed the drinks and told him to get undressed.
"And that, the delegate to the Republican National Convention told police, was the last thing he remembered."
According to the initial police report, when Mr. Schwartz, who is 29, woke up, he was $120,000 poorer. He had been relieved of a great deal of cash plus a $30,000 watch, a $20,000 ring, a $5,000 necklace and a belt worth $1,000. Prada.
In a statement he released once the story of his misadventure started making the rounds of the Internet, Mr. Schwartz said, "I used poor judgment." A spokeswoman for Mr. Schwartz said that his losses actually amounted to $63,050, and that he has worked with the police to correct the misunderstanding.
In his statement, he said he was "joking around" when he proclaimed during an interview earlier in the convention that he wanted "less taxes and more war," and that the United States should "bomb the hell" out of Iran.
I might not have the kind of money that gives me expertise in this area, and I don't own any Prada. But I feel I know a thing or two about wealth. And let me tell you that anybody who wears a $30,000 watch can afford to lose $30,000. Prada goeth before a fall.
So being a cheese-ball with Republican politics and a high-end watch is a license to be robbed? It's not as if liberal actors and cultural elites know nothing about conspicuous consumption (Al Gore, anyone?). One wonders what the advertising department at the Times' new style and fashion mag T think about Schwartz's class war.