Million Dollar (Poor) Baby

12:50 PM -- Forget the trials and tribulations of the so-called "ghetto." Silicon Valley is where your sympathies are needed, according to the New York Times Technology section:

    Mr. Steger, 51, a self-described geek, has banked more than $2 million. The $1.3 million house he and his wife own on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean is paid off. The couple’s net worth of roughly $3.5 million places them in the top 2 percent of families in the United States...

    “I know people looking in from the outside will ask why someone like me keeps working so hard,” Mr. Steger says. “But a few million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Maybe in the ’70s, a few million bucks meant ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ or Richie Rich living in a big house with a butler. But not anymore.”

Wow, when the cost of living is so high that you have to butter your own toast it's probably time to suck down some CO and call it a day.

The sob story continues with a depressing observation from Gary Kremin, founder of Match.com:

    “You’re nobody here at $10 million,” Mr. Kremen said earnestly over a glass of pinot noir at an upscale wine bar here.

At least he's earnest. Poor, but earnest.

    No one knows for certain how many single-digit millionaires live in Silicon Valley. Certainly their numbers reach into the tens of thousands, say those who work with the area’s engineers and entrepreneurs. Yet nearly all of them still have all-consuming jobs, not only because the work gives them a sense of achievement and satisfaction but also because they think they must work so much to afford their gilded neighborhoods...

    Umberto Milletti has fantasized about downsizing his life to ease the financial pressures he feels despite a net worth around $5 million. In 2000, when his stake in DigitalThink, the online learning company he co-founded in 1996, was worth around $50 million, he bought his family of four a five-bedroom house in Hillsborough, an upscale suburb south of San Francisco. After his net worth fell 90 percent, though, he found the house more of an albatross than a dream.

    “We could move,” Mr. Milletti said. “But if you do that, then you’re admitting defeat. No one wants to go backwards.”

Well, when your failure is so apparent anyway, I say what's the difference. Hey, anyone else hear those violins?

— Red Panda, Single-Digit Zillionaire, Light Reading

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