A Wall Street Journal article about an unemployed woman living on less in New York City asks us to believe that previously, Rachel Rachelson was able to live in Manhattan, rent a summer house and car in the Hamptons, have a yearly vacation in Acapulco, shop “without qualms” at Bergdorf, own 140 pairs of shoes, eat out daily at trendy restaurants, have weekly manicures and expensive haircuts - drum roll please - on a salary of $57,000 a year. We are talking about 33 years from 1975 - 2008, assuming that she lost her job in the past year and assuming that the salary quoted represented what she earned most recently. Does this make any sense to anyone alive in New York in the 21rst century? Did a sloppy editor eliminate another digit that belonged in front of 57 because even a single person would have to earn at least $157,000 to attempt that lifestyle.
Ms. Rachelson lives in a rent stabilized apartment on the upper east side - should taxpayers be outraged that they are subsidizing her rent so she can summer in the Hamptons and walk in Manolo Blahniks? Once her rent hits $2,000, she would still be protected since the cut off for eligibility is an annual salary higher than $175,000 for two consecutive years. There are a million rent stabilized apartments in New York - how many other occupants are living luxuriously while taxpayers scrimp to make their own ends meet? Let’s assume that her Manhattan rent is $1500/month and that she gets the most dilapidated house north of the highway in Hampton Bays for $12,000/season - these two items alone come to $30,000, leaving $10,000 for all the other expenses outlined above, plus those necessities not mentioned - utilities, telephone, medical and dental bills. Puh-leez.
Should we be more annoyed with the gullible reporter and the sloppy editor at the super-savvy Journal or at Ms. Rachelson enjoying a good laugh at the expense of the newspaper? Or, should the IRS be investigating where Ms. Rachelson is geting her undeclared, untaxed money that she hasn’t ‘fessed up to?
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