Eating the Rich, Tasty!

Welcome to the golden age of schadenfreude.
By Vanessa Richmond
Published: January 14, 2009

Mmmm, schadenfreude. Is there anything more delicious at this point of an economic cycle?

Why? At this point, doesn't everyone know at least one good, honest, hard working person who's lost a job or at least suffered a downturn? And though because economic forces are complex, it's impossible to blame just a few individuals, it's also almost impossible not to feel some satisfaction about the plight of a multi-billionaire who now has to fly economy instead of in the private leer jet. Poor thing. See -- I started out trying to explain the phenomenon and ended up relishing a rich person's misfortune. Hands up if you didn't enjoy it, too. (Bernie Madoff and his investors, put your hands down).

In addition to offering up economic news stories, forecasts and predictions, almost to the exclusion of other topics, the media is currently offering its readers various kinds of recession-related levity. To start with, there is a string of new buzz words: financiapocalypse, recessionomics, recessionista, inconspicuous consumption, recession chic, downwardly mobile image consultant, to name a few. But wit just can't provide the same level of emotional satisfaction as hearing about the undeserving rich get theirs, which is possibly why the New York Times has suggested this is the Golden Age of Schadenfreude (the word has appeared in their pages a record number of times of late).

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