Missing the point, over at the NYTimes

the_screamJames Stewart writes an interesting piece this morning on a 55 year old NYC attorney who recently declared bankruptcy, after earning in the $375-500K range for the past 20 years for a series of high-powered New York law firms.

Stewart’s analysis is that:

1. Being a non-equity partner attorney is tough these days, and

2. NY City is expensive these days.

Both of these points are, undoubtedly true, as far as they go.  On the other hand, what an idiotic piece.

Here’s a great example of making 2 true points, while overall missing The Truth of this unfortunate bankrupt attorney’s situation.  The Truth is this: this guy’s lifestyle and expenses clearly didn’t match his earnings.  Full stop.

This isn’t meant to blame or shame the attorney, who obviously is suffering from an inability to budget, and now has the ignominy of getting his personal financial situation described to the millions of readers of the New York Times.

But rather, its meant to point out that the Financial Infotainment Industrial Complex – of which the New York Times is the most important and highest quality member – can take a few pieces of data and shape an entirely bizarrely wrong narrative out of it.

When my four year old is given a Connect-The-Dots exercise in pre-K, we might be alarmed if she took the three black dots set up in the shape of a triangle and drew a highly accurate rendition of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. (Impressed, of course, but alarmed).

James Stewart, are you so far enmeshed in the New York City mindset that your main point about going bankrupt on $375K a year is that non-equity partners sure have it tough?  That is alarming.  Not impressed.


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I founded Bankers Anonymous because, as a recovering banker, I believe that the gap between the financial world as I know it and the public discourse about finance is more than just a problem for a family trying to balance their checkbook, or politicians trying to score points over next year’s budget – it is a weakness of our civil society. For reals. It’s also really fun for me.

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