"Just Squeaking By" With a Live-In Nannytoddler-times
The entire article drips with sarcasm. You’ll soon learn Laura Steins is “squeaking by on $300,000 a year.” But first, you get a taste of the morning routine – including the live-in nanny.
As Detroit flatlines and those of us in the media quiver in our boots over impending newspaper closures and layoffs, the other half wants us to know they’re in pain. Only their pain looks nothing like ours.
Take Laura Steins, who not only has the live-in nanny but whose kids have “generic” cell phones and True Religion jeans. Along with the pool man and the gardener, these are costs she told the Washington Post are ” non-negotiable facts of her life and not discretionary.” For a woman who gets $75,000 a year in child support, well, let’s just say we should be so lucky.
Don’t think for a moment that the author really wants us to feel bad for Steins that she has given up her trips to the colorist (just read the closing line “Perfect looks perfect from a distance”). But the look-see at the lives of children living in this type of rich poverty is what fascinates.
The children complains that her cell phone just isn’t as cool as those her friends have. Could happen in any home, it’s true. But then, even in the lower middle class homes where cell phones for kids are ubiquitous, so too are the cheaper phones. Kids who complain don’t want a nicer one – they want one. Period.
And where the other person (beside mom or dad) making dinner in the average strapped American home is a child, the Steins’ kids and their ilk have the nanny to do that.
Perhaps Steins is right – some of these costs are necessary rather than discretionary. She can’t sell a house when the real estate market rights itself if she’s let the grounds go to pot. And living in an upscale neighborhood calls for upscale spending – including on your kids, lest they be picked on at school for their “lesser” clothing and accessories.
Believe it or not, I can buy a small percentage of her reasoning. It might even be best for her kids. But, in the end, Steins still has the power to make choices. She can choose not to get her hair colored, choose to employ a live-in nanny over a part-time babysitter, choose to hire a gardener rather than taking her three kids outside to help her weed.
And that – more than her bank account – is where she’s got it over on half of America. It’s not the upper middle class and rich Americans’ “stuff” so much as their decision to keep and add to it . . . and their attempts to simultaneously complain and justify their reasoning that their affluent lifestyle calls for less sacrifice.
Because the single mom making minimum wage who hasn’t seen a lick of childhood support in the last year and a half lost the power of choice a long time ago.
Do you feel sorry for the poor little rich kids?