The Indignity of Half-Millionairedom

Six hundred thousand people lost their jobs last month. Our economy faces this pressing question: "I wonder if rich people could live on only $500,000 a year?"

Luckily, the Times has a very random selection of answers! Obama wants to limit the pay of Wall Street execs to a mere half mil. How would that meager salary affect, say, real estate ninja Barbara Corcoran?

Barbara Corcoran, who started a Manhattan real estate firm with $1,000, also looked back to the early 1990s, when she crossed the $500,000-a-year threshold..

"The other life difference," she said, "was it made it affordable to go to extreme measures to have a child." She signed up for in vitro fertilization treatments that cost $12,000 each. After seven tries, she said, "finally it worked. Without that kind of money, I don't think I'd have my first child."

Death. 500k would literally mean death. Now, how about somebody whose life was apparently the inspiration for the movie Big?

"It would take me back to '91 or '92," said Mary Rodas, who made big money when she was a teenager as vice president for marketing of the company that made Balzac, a ball-in-a-sack toy that became a top seller at F.A.O. Schwarz.

In those days she rode around in a limousine ("I was too young for a driver's license," she said) and did her market research at the private school she attended, trying out product designs and colors on younger students.

Probably wouldn't have been able to afford that sweet loft with the trampoline and the Coke machines and the older girlfriend and the magic fortune telling machine either. God willing, the rich will never see those dark days again. [NYT]