Inequality, poverty, or something else?

The 'human cost' of the collapse of Lehman Brothers:

Andy Bevan, 27, who works in equity derivative finance, was more upbeat.

He said he had been given the "official word" at about midday.

"It is what it is," he said. "But I am lucky - I don't have any dependants or a mortgage to worry about. I feel sorry for the managing directors - they were paid about 50% of their bonus in stock, that's been written off."

Many serious people believe that what really matters is helping people in poverty; others point out that people have preferences for the degree of inequality as well, beyond making sure the weakest in society can enjoy a certain minimum standard of living.

But this story shows there's something else at play too: being paid what is perceived 'fair', and changes in relative status. Hence our sympathy for the managing director who is losing his bonus, and our dislike of the burglar, as well as our sadness for the fallen rockstar and deposed King.


  1. La vitesse Says:

    I see what you're saying datacharmer- but I also think there was a whole load of sarcasm behind the statement.

    It's pretty hard to feel sorry for someone who has earned more than we can imagine over the past many years.

    I had this debate with a psycology student- they argued that the sense of loss that a rich it-girl feels when they can't find their favourite ring, is equal to that of a poor rural tribeswoman who loses their hut- i.e. the worst/best/insert emotion of choice/ that a human can feel, whatever the cause, is the same.

    I don't buy it and I don't feel sorry for the ex big guns at Lehman brothers