The plight of Andrew Schiff

By Felix Salmon
March 5, 2012
media tour doing damage control for the quotes he gave to Bloomberg's Max Abelson, Andrew Schiff rocked up at Tech Ticker last week, to talk to a sympathetic Aaron Task.

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On his media tour doing damage control for the quotes he gave to Bloomberg’s Max Abelson, Andrew Schiff rocked up at Tech Ticker last week, to talk to a sympathetic Aaron Task. “The salary you’re making now, you can’t live a middle-class lifestyle in New York City,” said Task. That salary, of course, is $350,000 per year — enough for Schiff to, among other things, pay $32,000 a year to send his 10-year-old daughter to Poly Prep Country Day School.

If you’re a connoisseur of rich people’s whines, you’ll be intimately familiar with the idea that they don’t have much money left after paying for expensive things in general and private school in particular. But sending your kids to private school is the epitome of upper-class snobbishness and elitism, and nobody who does it should ever be allowed to kvetch about their straitened circumstances. After all, they’ve already paid, with their taxes, to send their kids to public school. But their local public school isn’t good enough for little Muffy — in large part because all the rich parents in the neighborhood send their kids to private school instead, and therefore the local public schools aren’t getting the benefits of a significant cohort of affluent, educated, and engaged parents.

What’s more, if you send your kid to public school and augment her education with anything near $32,000 worth per year of books and travel and experiences and even private tutoring, she’ll end up extremely well educated. After all, when you look at studies which adjust for socio-economic status, there’s very little evidence at all that private schools provide a better education than public schools. Indeed, the evidence shows the opposite: that middle-class kids who grow up with two well-educated parents and lots of books around the house will generally do very well in school no matter where they go. Which means that the only real reason to send Muffy to private school is to ensure that she only hangs out with rich kids.

But let’s put aside for one minute Schiff’s complaints that once he’s spent $200,000 per year, not including health insurance, and saved a whole bunch more in his 401(k) plan, he doesn’t have any money left. His main point is that “living in New York is extremely expensive”. And that actually isn’t true. If you’re a financial professional, New York is arguably the cheapest of the world’s financial centers. And most major non-financial cities are more expensive than New York, too.

According to Mercer’s annual cost of living survey, New York lies somewhere between Brisbane and Brasilia, and is significantly cheaper than the likes of Milan, Tel Aviv, Melbourne, Seoul, and, of course, London. And it doesn’t even come close to Sydney, Rio, Hong Kong, Singapore, Geneva, Moscow, or Tokyo. Complaining about the cost of living in New York is the ultimate in parochialism: New York might be expensive by US standards, but it’s definitely cheap by global-city standards. Which is why it’s rather ironic to hear this plaint from Schiff, who’s the marketing director for a company which calls itself Euro Pacific Capital.

Most worryingly for Schiff’s clients, however, is the weakness of his logical reasoning. Worrying about his kids, Schiff tells Task that “I want them to grow up the way I grew up as a kid. I’m certainly of middle-class New York City origins. And that is becoming increasingly expensive. And that’s a function of the diminishing middle class and upper-middle class in the United States.”

Actually, Andrew, if a middle-class lifestyle is becoming increasingly expensive, that’s a function of the growing middle class and upper-middle class in the United States. Or Brooklyn, anyway. Why does the brownstone next door cost $1.5 million? Because there’s demand for housing at those prices from a large number of upper-middle-class families who want to live there. If you’re having difficulty raising a family on $350,000 a year, and you’re surrounded by people living the kind of lifestyle you can’t afford, that’s a sign that New York in general, and Cobble Hill in particular, is full of families making enormous sums of money.

The problem in brownstone Brooklyn isn’t that the middle class is diminishing. In fact, the whole reason why Andrew Schiff can’t move into the house he wants is that Brooklyn’s middle class is growing, to the point at which demand from middle-class families for comfortable housing significantly exceeds supply. The natural result is stratospheric prices. Wall Street bonuses might be down this year. But there’s still an enormous amount of money in New York — so much money, in fact, that Andrew Schiff feels unable to buy exactly the house he wants. I don’t think anybody is going to feel sorry for him — but the very fact that he’s in that position is proof that the rich are doing very well for themselves these days.

And in the mean time, if Andrew’s feeling stuck in his current digs, I have a suggestion for him. Buy a dishwasher. Trust me, you can afford it. And it’ll make your current life significantly easier.

39 comments

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I was kind of hoping you’d do this post. I’d add my opinion of Schiff here but it wouldn’t get past the Reuters clean-up bot.

Nice datapoints on NYC, too.

Posted by ottorock | Report as abusive

There is no question that Schiff’s remarks were stupid (for lack of a better word). But you’re over-complicating your analysis. It’s really all about choices.

Every person, except for the very lowest and very highest incomes, has to decide what to do with a finite pool of money. If you choose private schools for your children, that’s not an unreasonable choice, but it has implications to your other choices. Expensive private schools mean you make sacrifices in other areas of your life. It’s called making adult decisions.

What Schiff really wants is an income where he doesn’t have to make choices. Which is childish. And he’s got a long way to go; doubling or even tripling his income won’t even come close.

Posted by Curmudgeon | Report as abusive

c’mon Felix – the fact that there are many other expensive cities does not diminish the fact that it’s extremely expensive to live in New York City…

If I said to you “LULU is a richly valued stock,” you wouldn’t reply “That’s not true – there are many other stocks which are valued even more richly.” Because that would be a silly argument.

Similarly, the fact that London and Tokyo are expensive doesn’t make NYC an inexpensive place to live.

and please note: my comment has absolutely nothing to do with Schiff or his “plight.”

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

Perception of wealth is such an oddly relativistic thing. He might as well have said, “I can’t afford to buy anything because I bought nine Ferraris and I don’t have much money left over so look at how poor I am.” I wonder if that would be somehow different in his point-of-view?

Posted by spectre855 | Report as abusive

They have not paid with their taxes to send their children to public school. WE have. Public school is not paid for by the parents of school-age children; it is paid for by the entire population.

This is not a small point. Public education is an important part of the social fabric in this country. To tacitly accept that the parents of school-age children are paying specifically for the education of their children with their taxes is to open the door to every kind of argument against anyone else being obliged to pay their share: the childless, the elderly, and the rich whiners like Mr. Schiff.

Posted by ckbryant | Report as abusive

@KD: the relevant quote from Felix is: “If you’re a financial professional, New York is arguably the cheapest of the world’s financial centers.”

Given his profession, Andrew Schiff has constraints on where he can live. He’s chosen one of the cheaper alternatives, and complains it’s still too expensive due entirely to the fact that he chooses to spend a lot of money on things that most everybody else can’t afford. How is that “expensive”? [see @ckbryant’s post)

NYC is expensive compared to places Schiff would never live. NYC is relatively inexpensive compared to the other places Schiff could choose to live while leading the lifestyle he expects. The latter is Felix’s point.

Posted by SteveHamlin | Report as abusive

Felix, you would have trouble being more offensive if you tried!!!!!!

Yes, we send our older son to private school. The cost is a definite strain on our budget, and will be even more so once our younger son begins. But perhaps you should explore our motivations before declaring, “sending your kids to private school is the epitome of upper-class snobbishness and elitism”?

Our son has an autistic-spectrum disorder, identified at the age of 2. He received services through Early Intervention for a year, followed by services through the public schools through preschool. While these helped us manage, they didn’t “cure” the problems. His social behaviors are progressing, but remain essentially 2-3 years behind age norms (his 4-years younger brother is in some ways more mature). Complicating matters, some aspects of his academics are a couple years *ahead* of age norms.

The public schools were willing to continue social services, but for most of the day he would have been in a large lock-step classroom, going through the same exercises as everybody else. This was essentially the approach used in his pre-school class. He was consistently off-task, unresponsive, off in la-la land. But the public schools were happy with this as long as his academics tested out normally. They were only willing to consider alternatives if his academics fell a year *behind* age level.

His private school has been accepting of his difficulties, has continued to challenge him academically, and has helped him grow socially and otherwise. They were willing to give him an appropriate learning environment BEFORE he displayed year-plus deficiencies in his academic.

So we pay for private school. Some 15% to 20% of our income goes towards his education. This isn’t REALLY a strain, as we otherwise live very simple lives, but it is the single largest expenditure in our budget.

And yes, we’ll send our younger kid to the same private school. So what if it eats up a third of our income? It isn’t like we have anything better to spend the money on, and it would be hard for us to send him to an inferior school simply because he doesn’t suffer the same disabilities.

So that makes us the epitome of upper class snobs? Really? WHO THE HECK ARE YOU TO MAKE THAT KIND OF JUDGMENT?!? I’ve read what you write. You eat in $100/plate restaurants. You think nothing of spending $20 on a bottle of wine. You live in Manhattan. You travel the world. And you have the chutzpah to call **US** elitist snobs because we send our kids to private school? Really?

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

P.S. I’m a teacher. I have direct experience with three different public school systems, from the inside, and two decades of working with students from a dozen different public schools systems.

The (better) public schools work pretty well for perhaps three quarters of the kids. The other quarter are marginalized, bullied, confused and left behind in their classes, and otherwise abused.

This isn’t meant to denigrate the public schools. They do the best they can, with very limited resources. But education isn’t something that can be effectively mass produced. It is inherently individual, an interplay between the instruction and the student.

If your child is one of the 75% who can reach their potential in the public schools, be thankful! If not, then you are clearly the epitome of an elitist snob if you choose to pay for an education that WORKS for your child.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

This post reminded me how even longer-term visitors to the US Northeast fail to fully comprehend how different the income distribution compared to the places they come from. For example, it would not be striking to see a successful plumber who runs a 3 person shop who makes 300-400K or a public school superintended in the same range. Should I mention police officers and firefighters? What about all those British academics, who are chasing a marginal dollar at various US universities? So let’s take it easy and welcome to America, Felix!

Posted by Tseko | Report as abusive

“Indeed, the evidence shows the opposite: that middle-class kids who grow up with two well-educated parents and lots of books around the house will generally do very well in school no matter where they go.”

Measuring what? Academic tests? And that tells you everything you need to know?

Were the kids attending the private schools assaulted daily on the playground, on the bus? Do they have the same number of missing teeth as the kids who went to public school? Did they grow in confidence or shrink into a shell, hoping nobody would notice them?

Felix, a wise person speaks from experience. You clearly have NO experience with the US schools, either as a student or as a parent. Thus you sit back in your ivory tower and are confused by the choices of people living in the real world.

From your heights, it might seem that we act out of snobbery. But maybe you haven’t looked closely enough?

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

Is it parochial for an American accustomed to a $25,000 per year lifestyle to complain about a cut in pay to $15,000, or would that be immune to comparison to international standards? Or is nobody entitled to complain about a cut in pay? I’m a bit confused as to what the standards are.

(I would guess that almost everyone who saw that previous story and thought ill of the fellow for his complaints lives somewhere with a lower cost of living than NYC.)

Posted by dWj | Report as abusive

wow, the ONLY real reason to send a kid to private school is to hang out with rich kids?!? and you’re worried about the weakness of Schiff’s logical reasoning…

Posted by fionn | Report as abusive

Hey, Felix, I went to private high school. I did not hang out with rich kids; most of my friends at the school were at least partially on scholarship. It was a hardship for my very middle-class parents to pay for, and in those days it was quite a bit less expensive (tuition at that school is now five times what it was 30 years ago!). Now, of course, we knew some of the kids who went to the snooty rich-kid schools, but we got to feel at least academically superior to them. So do not tar all the private schools with a broad brush; you know not of what you speak.

Posted by Moopheus | Report as abusive

@SteveHamlin:

“If you’re a financial professional, New York is arguably the cheapest of the world’s financial centers.”

may be a true statement.

“His main point is that “living in New York is extremely expensive”. And that actually isn’t true.”

Is still false, however.

but it seems like a pretty silly thing to be debating. NYC is in fact a very expensive city to live in – the opposite would be futile to argue, which was my point.

I’d like to add: Ditto Curmudgeon and Spectre855′s comments at the top of this thread

Posted by KidDynamite | Report as abusive

“Expensive private schools mean you make sacrifices in other areas of your life. It’s called making adult decisions.”

Absolutely, Curmudgeon! And complaining about those sacrifices is bad form. But calling everybody who chooses private schools “elitist snobs”? Nothing justifies that kind of effrontery!

90% of kids report being bullied some time between 4th grade and 8th grade. Almost three hundred thousand are attacked EACH MONTH in high school (out of about 15 million high-school-age kids).

If you are the parent of a child who was born with a target on his back, you do not send him to public schools. You either choose a private school or you home-school. (And private school can be cheaper.)

Speaking for myself, my career as an elitist snob began in second grade when my front teeth were badly chipped after being shoved to the pavement. It continued through sixth grade, as I refused to go outside during recess. I would stay in the classroom, or go to the library, where I could remain safely near an adult. That didn’t stop the teasing, of course… Eighth grade was the year I was attacked daily on the way home from the bus stop, culminating in my attacker rushing me from behind with a three foot club from a 2-3 inch tree branch. Yeah, I got a great education in public school! Duck, drop, roll, and run!!! Ninth grade I was assaulted repeatedly in the hallways. The principal blamed me for getting into trouble. In tenth grade I had a kid follow me off the bus and pull a knife. (I sought refuge in the house of a total stranger.)

But yeah, I had near-perfect SAT scores and got into a great college. Felix will take that as proof that public school works! Only an elitist snob like myself would think otherwise.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

I tend to read articles like the original Bloomberg piece as a traditional well off whine. After all, no group whines like the well off. They’re used to their whining doing something, unlike the less well off who have learned that whining just breeds contempt.

Still, it was an interesting article. The big squeeze, the long term lowering of American living standards, began three decades ago, and it first hit the low end, then moved up through the middle. Now, it’s actually hitting the upper end. Unlike everyone else, when they whine, politicians listen, at least in democracies.

My guess is that we are just going to see some more high end welfare, but there is an opportunity for a change. Falling living standards are not inevitable, but they require collective action to reverse. All I can say is “Welcome to the club.”

Posted by spiffy76 | Report as abusive

If one were to read the comments here, you would think the only kids in private school were special needs kids, and kids that would be bullied in public school. I highly doubt that’s the case, and it’s hardly the type of private-schooler Felix is talking about.

Posted by jonnymac27 | Report as abusive

jonnymac27, that isn’t what Felix said, is it? Let’s read it again: “But sending your kids to private school is the epitome of upper-class snobbishness and elitism, and nobody who does it should ever be allowed to kvetch about their straitened circumstances.”

Besides, most kids suffer bullying at least in the middle school grades. Read up on the issue. If you didn’t personally suffer bullying, then you were probably one of the bullies or one of the gang enabling the bullies. Either way, I don’t want my kids to be part of that culture. It is very poor preparation for adult life.

And I taught in the public schools for a decade, mostly at one of the best public high schools in the state. When you have 30 kids in a class, at least five of them end up falling through the cracks. Frustrating as a teacher, but surely even worse as a parent. The conventional educational model is seriously flawed.

I read the Bloomberg article a bit different from Felix. My takeaway is that it is difficult to cut back your spending NO MATTER WHAT YOUR INCOME. Theoretically, a Wall Street hot shot earning $500k would build a lifestyle around half that and save the rest for a rainy day, but I understand they don’t think that way.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

I have to agree with Felix and jonnymac27, no where in the original article does it mention that Andrew Schiff’s child in private school was a special needs child. TFF, you have to take into account the context. The entire post was about Wall Street fat cats who are complaining about their financial circumstances under conditions of lower overall bonuses, even if the sentence you pulled out of context used the word “nobody”.

I wholeheartedly agree with Felix that nobody on Wall Street with a six figure salary should be listened to when they start griping “I feel stuck” and “The New York that I wanted to have is still just beyond my reach.” Spare us.

Posted by Strych09 | Report as abusive

The article and its orignal are very misleading, and obviously on purpose. They deliberately took out of context what he was saying:

1. “I feel stuck.” was “I don’t like to feel stuck.” in reference to traffic in LA when he was sitting on the freeway for 20 minutes without moving, and was made during idle chit chat post interview. To imply it was in reference to his lifestyle or salary is at best disingenuous, but most likely a lie that the author should retract and apologize for.

2. The entire point Andrew was attempting to make is that 350,000 for a family of 4 living in NY, after 48% of the income disappearing in taxes leaves you with a comfortable lifestyle but does not mean you have a maid and a butler and a Rolls. He made this point by saying he washes his own dishes and does not have a dishwasher. The point was not that his life is hard, but that the government has taken away the purchasing power of their income through inflation.

The author should retract, apologize and change his profession.

Posted by eyecoin | Report as abusive

KidDynamite, in case you’re not aware of it, Andrew and Peter Schiff are prominent idological Libertarians who make it their business to move capital out of the U.S. and the niche of Euro Pacific Capital is to facilitate the same.

Peter Schiff even wrote a widely-read book wherein he advocated that new college graduates learn Mandarin and move to China or other Far East country in order to seek their fortune (he wrote this well before the 2008 crash and subsequent high unemployment rates) because the U.S. wasn’t offering requisite opportunity due to the stifling political system.

Given that, I don’t think it is at all untoward to expect Andrew to follow his own firm’s advice and move himself and his family to some other financial services-centric city (say, London or Singapore) and try to make it there since New York City is “so expensive”.

Posted by Strych09 | Report as abusive

“Which means that the only real reason to send Muffy to private school is to ensure that she only hangs out with rich kids.”

Actually in my affluent New England community, where the public schools are better than most private schools, I think the reason parents send kids to private school is so the PARENTS can hang out with other rich parents. A private school is a great place to network if you’re a lawyer or I-banker. The investment can actually pay back pretty quickly if you make the right contacts.

Posted by FreeNH | Report as abusive

@Strych09, fail!

“the **only** real reason to send Muffy to private school is to ensure that she only hangs out with rich kids”

(1) Her name isn’t Muffy. Being intentionally insulting to an innocent child is not appropriate behavior for any adult.

(2) Felix doesn’t know whether or not she has special needs. You don’t know whether or not she has special needs. Assuming she doesn’t is a serious mistake.

(3) In public schools, you seek testing and labeling to get access to services for special needs. In private schools you seek to understand the child’s needs, but (for moderate special needs) don’t bother with the final step of formal diagnosis and labeling.

(4) Some 15% of public school students are on an IEP (i.e. students requiring modification of the learning environment). I would guess that another 10% to 15% are on 504 plans (i.e. students requiring accommodations in the learning environment). And in my experience, a similar percentage beyond that have mild special needs that have not been formally diagnosed. Moreover, an additional 10% to 15% are high-ability students who are perpetually bored in school. Special needs are not rare!

(5) A child is defined as having “special needs” if (despite our best efforts) we can’t stuff them into a uniform round hole. One might suggest that we shouldn’t be TRYING to stuff children into uniform round holes. But that would mean acknowledging that every child is special.

Fixing education is actually quite simple.
(A) Double staffing levels, so that each child gets the individual attention that they need. Private schools do this (which is why they are expensive).

(B) Expel those students whose presence is a perpetual disruption. Those who repeatedly bully and intimidate their peers. Private schools do this, while public schools give them a slap on the wrist and tell them nicely to be kind.

(C) Reinvent our educational model, moving away from group instruction and towards individualized instruction. Of course this depends on (A), since a 30:1 ratio comes to (maybe) 5 minutes of individual instruction per student per school day. Private schools are on the forefront of this movement as well.

I can’t promise improved test scores, but I assure you that it is kinder to the child if you don’t begin by attacking them with hammer and chisel in an effort to make them fit the average.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

Since we’re handing out failing grades TFF…
n = 1 or n = 2 is not an adequate statistical sample to determine whether a particular solution is warranted or or even necessary.
All children are afforded the “individual attention” they so desperately seem to need, the providers are called parents. Doubling staffing levels requires more than just a increase in personnel. Those personnel need physical space, require support staff, and must be accounted for when when target audience contracts.
Expulsion must be balanced with the requirements of society to educate all children. Your panacea also assumes that the remaining students will not fill the social niche that has appeared in every society.
Reinvention is not simple. There is very little experimental evidence to draw upon, nor do most school districts have the resources or the political clout/will to perform such actions.
Your arguments are based on generalizations, appeals to emotion, argument from authority, and a host of other logical fallacies. Do not be surprised when you receive no support and are considered incredulous. Schiff has opportunities unavailable to the “99%,” but chooses to instead whine about his plight in a national publication. That he receives no sympathy is not a surprise either.

Posted by OnkelBob | Report as abusive

“n = 1 or n = 2 is not an adequate statistical sample to determine whether a particular solution is warranted or or even necessary.”

Exactly my point, OnkelBob. Felix is making assumptions about Andrew Schiff’s motivations, about his daughter, that might or might not be valid in the aggregate but are DEFINITELY not valid in every case. Despite his use of universal quantifiers throughout.

In contrast, I’m speaking not just as a student and a parent, but also as a teacher with a decade of full-time experience in the classroom and another decade of work with high school students outside the public school classrooms. My “n” is well over 1000, possibly approaching 1500. I could fill a book with anecdotes of how specific students have been let down by the public schools in different ways.

“All children are afforded the “individual attention” they so desperately seem to need, the providers are called parents.”

Sure, and this is why children from educated/motivated parents tend to be successful academically, even in the public schools. Even if they aren’t getting what they need between 8 and 3, they can get individualized assistance after school. I work as a private tutor, working with students for one hour a week on math or science. Typically that is sufficient to raise their grades by 10 to 15 points (as long as the student is motivated).

It is definitely cheaper to hire tutors than to send your kid to private schools, however you also need to question whether or not this is the best use of their time. And children will rarely receive tutoring in more than two subjects at one time.

“Doubling staffing levels requires more than just a increase in personnel.”

Yup. And that is why a top-notch private education costs $20k-$30k a year. I have experience with both public school and private school budgeting. The equations are a bit different, but they both add up to serious smack.

“Expulsion must be balanced with the requirements of society to educate all children.”

Yes, I understand. This is why bullying will always be a greater problem in public schools than in private schools. The public schools are required by “the interests of society” to put the bullies in regular daily contact with the other children. The majority of students are the target of a bully some time during their middle school years. You can talk around that all you like, but it is a shockingly stark statistics.

“Reinvention is not simple.”

You’re telling me? I’ve spent my career as a teacher trying to figure out the question of “reinvention” in both large ways and small. The best answers I’ve found, at least for the elementary grades, look an awful lot like what Maria Montessori established a century ago.

“That he receives no sympathy is not a surprise either.”

Schiff doesn’t get any sympathy from me either, but that doesn’t excuse Felix Salmon acting like Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

@OnkelBob, on further thought I think you put it perfectly.

Public schools exist to serve the interests of society.

Private schools exist to serve the interests of the child.

There are plenty of middle-class parents (not nearly as rich as Schiff) who make sacrifices to send their children to private schools for exactly this reason. The interests of society and the interests of the child do not always coincide.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

TFF Felix wasn’t speaking to you, or about you, or me as a matter of fact. My son is in a private school. He would have preferred to be in a regular school with his friends and would have had better marks. (He nearly failed last term)

He was placed in a private school because his misguided father believes he and his son will get more contacts AND as FreeNH alluded to, it is a way for snooty elitists to hob-nob with ‘their kind.’

While this IS true, there is little difference between the schools to warrant the extra costs. Classroom numbers are still large and there is only one teacher, and support staff is limited. Bullying/racism/leaving kids behind still occurs. Teachers and Principals are more likely to also be snobs and elitists so heaven help the child whose father isn’t a generous alumni…

YOU may find that not to be so, because your child has special needs that may (or may not…) be catered to by your specialty private school, but if he really needs special attention home tutoring would have been the way to go. As a teacher and a parent, you surely must know that … plus Aspergers means social interaction can be painful, so you may be doing him a disservice…

I can’t see your anger being justified given the above and to compare Felix to Limbaugh shows you are taking this way too personally. YES he went overboard calling the child “muffy” and saying “all” are elitists and snobs, but I managed not to see or feel his comments as inflammatory as they didn’t hit home to me… as I am neither an elitist, nor a snob…

Posted by youniquelikeme | Report as abusive

That’s right, younique, Felix was speaking about Anna Schiff, calling her nasty names because he has a political disagreement with her father. That doesn’t remind you of Rush Limbaugh? (Admittedly Rush took it to the extreme — hopefully it will be the end of him.)

Felix also invoked universal qualifiers. He clearly wasn’t limiting his argument to Andrew Schiff. He was talking about all students, all parents, who choose private education. If he didn’t mean to do so, then he would have qualified his statements differently.

As for my son, younique, you are correct that social interaction is difficult for him. But he feels “safe” in his classroom, and the other students have been generally respectful of his peculiarities. We have offered him the option of home schooling (though that would be effectively more expensive), but thus far he continues to prefer his present placement.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

TFF, huh? Muffy is a nasty name? I think not. It is a distinctively preppy name that someone of privilege might give their daughter. Should he have said Biff, Apple, Paris, Shaleigh, Hadleigh, Harmon or Mylee? I think it was kinder to not use her real name, even though what her father has said means she will grow up thinking she was poor and has little rather than be grateful for having more than most. Sorry, but in this case thou dost protest too much.

This article is about people who have more money than most who feel a sense of entitlement to those riches, who have no idea what it is like to not have because they are the “haves” who feel slighted because they wanted more and their money no longer buys them what their parent’s money did.

I wonder, does this same person speak about how hard they work and ‘deserve more’ while at the same time speak of those on unemployment or welfare as being entitled.

I really am glad your son has a niche, but that is why you chose the school… not because you are an elitist, which IS why people make the choice… they feel their son or daughter “deserves better” than others because they have money and cannot fathom nor can they function with NOT having the money.

I read the articles Felix referred us to. “I wouldn’t want to whine,” Schiff said. “All I want is the stuff that I always thought, growing up, that successful parents had.”

That he cannot “afford” a dishwasher is laughable… yet he can afford to rent a vacation cottage and vacations.

His children, a girl and a boy, sleep in the same room. His priorities are skewed and his money management skills are non-existent and he feels entitled to ‘the good life.’

Posted by youniquelikeme | Report as abusive

“It is a distinctively preppy name that someone of privilege might give their daughter.”

Really? I don’t know anybody who goes by “Muffy”. Guess I’m not in with the privileged crowd…

I’m not going to defend Schiff. Without going into details, he shows every sign of being a putz. But Felix went **WAY** overboard in his criticism of private education. Could he not have made his point with more measured language? And without dragging a child into it?

Suppose you’ll tell me I’m hyper-aggressive? If so, consider where I learned to be that way (and read Ender’s Game, which I didn’t encounter until I was an adult but describes portions of my childhood perfectly). Only one of the bullies I ever encountered bothered me more than once — but I want better than that for my son. I want him to grow up in safety, without needing to defend himself against anybody and everybody. Without carrying a chip on his shoulder. Without learning to be an intellectual snob (an attitude that took me years to unlearn), because that was the only way to survive an abusive environment.

Public schools are all vanilla. Private schools come in a variety of different flavors. There are valid reasons for preferring a private school for some children that have nothing to do with snobbery.

If Felix will acknowledge that simple fact, I’ll drop it.

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

youniquelikeme, if you are english like Mr Salmon and me you know that certain words are slang for vagina. I only know one girl from school that had that nickname and that was because she was considered what Rush considered the law student to be.

Also I am going to suggest that given Mr Salmon’s accent he didn’t attend a inner city comp.

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

TFF – you are making a huge assumption about private schools based on your good luck finding one that appears to work for your particular child and your bad luck with the public school system. I have seen plenty of bullying and unmet needs in both public and private education. There is no silver bullet for the problems you talk about. There are times that a particular private school is the right choice for a family. However, there are also rich NYC families who autopilot their kids into private schools for class reasons and then whine about costs. These people are unreasonable, and that was Felix’s point.

Felix, I was thinking a similar thing about Schiff’s neighbors but you stated it very well. It’s a bit odd for someone who supposedly likes capitalism and works at a firm which claims a trading edge to be offended that his better-trading neighbors acquired the housing he desires and won’t trade it to him as cheaply as he would prefer. The lower-class lament that they are priced out of NYC because they don’t have the background to go into finance or don’t want to give up their underpaid human-service job rings a lot truer. But I guess we won’t see those folks featured in Bloomberg articles.

Posted by najdorf | Report as abusive

najdorf, on the contrary, I’m not the one making assumptions. Felix was using universal quantifiers. He tossed out the terms “nobody”, “only reason”, “epitome”, and so forth.

Fact is, he is wrong. You can disprove a universal claim with a single counterexample. I could give you dozens (though I’m more comfortable talking about my personal experience than discussing students I’ve taught).

He might have said, “most students are just as well served in the public schools as in the private schools”. Arguably true. He might have said, “many private schools offer nothing more than snob appeal”. Arguably true. But he didn’t say that — he made some exceptionally strong statements that demand refutation, and was intentionally insulting in the process TO AN INDIVIDUAL WHO MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT FIT THE BROADER STATISTICS.

“I have seen plenty of bullying and unmet needs in both public and private education.”

Sure, this is true. But in a specific situation where the public schools are not able/willing to meet the needs of a child, would you not rationally explore private alternatives? And being able to expel individuals who are physically violent is a huge advantage for the private schools.

“However, there are also rich NYC families who autopilot their kids into private schools for class reasons and then whine about costs. These people are unreasonable, and that was Felix’s point.”

Absolutely! Now if Felix had written that, I would have been agreeing with him. Apparently everybody knows what Felix meant except for Felix himself?

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

Don’t always agree with you, Felix. But you are spot on with the private education critique. Cobble Hill has some of the best public elementary schools in the country. (And District 15 has some of the best middle Schools.) So there has to be snobbishness or elitism at work in his decision to send his kids to private. It’s simply NOT NECESSARY in that part of Brooklyn. I live in the neighborhood, send my daughter to public, and it’s great. . . . And for those who think bullying only happens in public schools–I give you as an example the girl at the Brearly school who, this past fall, was kicked in the head so hard that she suffered permanent memory loss. . . I went to public and private schools and I can tell you that the kids were WAY WAY WAY meaner and more horrible in private. I actually think sending one’s children to elite new york city private schools is a disservice. They come away having no clue how the rest of the world lives.

Posted by CitySlick | Report as abusive

“I went to public and private schools and I can tell you that the kids were WAY WAY WAY meaner and more horrible in private.”

Guess I’ve been lucky, then? That isn’t true of the Montessori school where my son attends, and that isn’t true of the Catholic school where I work. If it were, I wouldn’t have anything to do with either of them.

Then again, neither charges $30k tuition. Perhaps not all private schools are intended as snob farms?

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

Is the cost of living survey relative to after tax income?

I would be very surprised if Singapore is more expensive than NYC AFTER tax. Also how do they measure rentals in Seoul, given the completely different rental system they have there?

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

Good question, Danny_Black…

Note that the tax rates in the US are the lowest that they’ve been in several decades. Andrew Schiff’s parents almost certainly paid more income tax than he does (proportionately).

Posted by TFF | Report as abusive

The whole notion of forcing people to pay for other kids education seems silly to me. All education should be handled by the parents and I say that as a younger working class man with a number of children. I’d much rather have the freedom of choice in where I send my kids to school (with the extra money I’d have from not having to pay into Public schools), as opposed to being stuck sending them to government indoctrination camps.

Posted by NoAlias | Report as abusive

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