A Lack of Empathy

Sometimes the landscape of modern politics becomes tedious, uninspiring. Few things surprise us here on PissEarth, circa 2019. Yet, occasionally a little nugget of gold manages to make it into my social media newsfeed and I find myself compelled to write about it. Such was the case when a screenshot was shared from this 2018 CNBC article.

It is almost a year old, but the insight one can glean from it is timeless and universal. No doubt there are some people living in ivory towers who are too obtuse to catch the subtle details, so I thought I’d dedicate an article to mocking, uhhhh I mean analyzing, the tone deaf mindset of the typical urbanite CNBC reader who sympathizes with this “average feeling” couple.

I’ll begin by saying that I don’t necessarily consider 500K/year to be “swimming in money” for a family of four. This is especially true in certain high cost of living areas (bear with me here, I’m trying to be generous and fair). So, for the sake of argument, I’m going to categorize their income as “upper-upper-middle class.” Hey, considering that the duo in the example family are only in their mid-30s, I’d say that’s a pretty enviable position to be in.

The theme of this CNBC offering, as I gather, is that, “Hey man, its tough out here for us regular folk trying to eke out a livin’.” And, I suppose the author is making an attempt at sympathy for the working class. This is (sort of) supported by a quote early in the piece: “…as this couple shows, you and your partner could be making $500,000 a year, enough to put you among the top 1 percent of earners in America, and still end up with very little besides 401(k) money.” Emphasis on “very little” is mine. Wow. Did the author actually take a moment to study their budget for just how “very little” these people have?

This might be a good place to stop and make a few educated assumptions about the author, and their likely predispositions. First, it’s CNBC, so it qualifies as a “destination” journalism gig. GlassDoor says that a CNBC reporter makes between $68K-104K/year. So, let’s sort of split the difference here and make an assumption that the author makes close to $80k/year.

While a good bit away from the $500K of the two attorneys she writes about (the author’s name is Kathleen, so I assume her preferred pronoun is “she”), if she happens to be married herself and her husband has a north-of-six-digit income, it is easy to see that the “plight” of the “average feeling” attorney couple in the article could be one that Kathleen feels that she shares. On the other hand, if Kathleen happens to be a single mother of 4 living in a trailer park somewhere in the rural northeast… oh wait, then she would be working for Buzzfeed, not CNBC. Moot point.

All humor aside, I do believe that the point of this article, in a roundabout and out-of-touch way, was to show sympathy or solidarity with people of a lower station than the author and her attorney friends. “If we are struggling to make ends meet, my God those po’ folk must be miserable!” But, her hamfisted attempt at sympathy only serves to leave a working man or woman more disgusted at the “1%” than they would be had they never read the article.

Let’s take a look at a few tidbits that show just how detached from working class reality this author, and the “average feeling” attorneys are. One budgetary bullet point that struck me right off was the child care expenses at $42,000/year. Not $4,200, need to add a zero. $4,200 would be what regular folks out here in “Flyover Country” pay for child care. Okay, maybe a little more for two kids, especially if you put them in a nice pre-K. Still, the other 99% of us would balk at paying half of that $42K a year, even under the best of circumstances. In my mind, $42K a year should buy you a live-in nanny complete with an English accent, a la Mary Poppins. And, if my hunch is correct, that’s probably what they have. Seriously, a pretty good chunk of the other 99% of us would be happy to have a $42K/year gig watching a couple of brats for some rich people.

I mean go down the list. A BMW Series 5 and a Toyota Land Cruiser. God bless these folks for steering clear of more showy cars like Aston Martins and Land Rovers. Heaven forbid they drive a used infinity QX80 like some pleb!

Then, the 1.5 million dollar home. Okay, you get the picture.

Seriously CNBC, you need to hire a “regular folk” editor just to go over your articles for regular folk appeal. I might consider doing that job for 42K/year, if you’ll let me work from home and offer me a stock option plan.

-By Dixie Anon


  1. Ha! Yeah, the irony here is thick enough to slice into bite-sized pieces with a dull switchblade. Or something like that. Guaranteed at least one of the baristas (wait!, a “barista” is someone who works at Starbucks and discriminates against black people for ‘living while black.’ Almost forgot.) who are the subject of the story has a bumper sticker somewhere on her vehicle stating (s)he Will work for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.