The Butlers May Not Do It

Because “06880” readers include a healthy proportion of the 1 percent, I will refrain from making any snarky comments on this weekend’s Wall Street Journal Investor story.

The loooong piece — titled “Honey, They Shrunk My Bonus” — describes in excruciating detail how “even the highest earners” on Wall Street are “increasingly vulnerable to cash squeezes — caught between bonuses that increasingly are paid in stock and luxury expenses that continue to soar even in a down economy.”

For example, the Journal says:

The lifestyle costs, or what bankers call their “burn rates,” can be substantial. For a typical top Wall Street executive with a family of four, the cost of a Manhattan apartment, household staff and private school can easily top $500,000 a year, consultants and bankers say. That doesn’t include the restaurants, clothing, second- or third-home upkeep and charity dinners that also are fixtures in finance.

So — in deference to my readers — I will refrain from commenting on quotes like this from Natasha Pearl, founder of Aston Pearl, which “often advises wealthy families on paring their budgets”:

Until you really analyze your budget, you don’t realize that the bill for your arborist has gone up 20% over the past five years, and it’s not because you have more trees.

Some Westporters are letting Mother Nature remove trees, in order to reduce arborist costs.

Instead — because “06880” is, as the tagline says, “Where Westport meets the world” — I’ll simply offer up these nuggets from Steven Laitmon, “co-founder of the Calendar Group, a Westport, Conn.-based staffing firm”:

Many bankers have consolidated their staffs. A family that might have had a butler, private chef, laundress, nanny and cleaning person might now have only a cleaning person “who also does some cooking and is child-friendly.”

Rather than employing personal assistants at home, some bankers are using the executive assistants at their offices to handle some of their personal logistics. To fill those duties, many Wall Street banks are looking for secretaries with personal-assistant experience, Mr. Laitmon says.

“I think some bankers realized they were over-staffed at home and now they’re trimming,” he says.

Westporters involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement were unavailable for comment.

Some Westporters may have to trim their household staffs.

33 responses to “The Butlers May Not Do It

  1. Remarkable restraint, Dan.

  2. Terry Brannign


    As a journalist you have a duty to not perpetuate sexist terms like “laundress”!

  3. Restraint is right!

    Having seen the massive greed overtake many in banking and on Wall Street, should we actually feel sorry for them? OF COURSE NOT!
    Those greedy individuals who carelessly overextended themselves DESERVE to feel what many are now feeling, but just never had the indulgences!

    A perfect example of KARMA!

  4. The Ed Mitchell Family: One Percenters
    Paul Newman: One Percenter
    George Washington: One Percenter
    Thomas Jefferson: One Percenter

    What a bunch of greedy self-centered jerks!

    • If only the Mitchells and the Newmans were representative samples of the USA’s 1% – the country wouldn’t be in the shitter it is in. Funny, how the other two guys – who were both slave owners (and Jefferson was apparently very bad with money and always in debt) are the only other 2 examples the writer could come up with… pretty much says it all.

      • Here are more good one percenters since you did not like some of my previous choices:

        Bill Gates
        Richard Branson

        Sorry, “Straight From Fairfield” I was being sarcastic (hard to tell in print). I completely agree with you. In addition I know plenty of one-percenters who are hard-working good people that volunteer their time and money to many good causes, and surprise!, are moral and ethical people.

        Class warfare and scapegoating seem unethical and immoral to me.

        • Only one American on list #2 – you’re really not making a great case for the 1%. Here are a couple of our neighbors:
          Joseph Cassano
          Raj Rajaratnam

          21st century robber barons are so much less interesting than previous centuries and the pickings are rich in Westport.

          • armMan:

            There are plenty of people that shy away from the spotlight in this town that are could be mentioned so I am not going to get into a pissing match.

            I can be classified as a one percenter. However, many people who know me will tell you that I am not a jerk, a robber baron, or an unethical bastard. I am a successful businessman who worked extremely hard to go from essentially nothing to something. I have been lucky and I am very grateful. I provide good jobs to people. I am far from perfect but I do donate substantial time and money back to the local community and to the world.

            You can always find jerks, as it is human nature, but I will always find mensches, even in this town. So get away from that keyboard and take a walk around our town and see who makes a difference. Some of these people will be rich and some will be of lesser means but all are worthy. I judge people as individuals, not as a part of a group.

            I hope that you are one of those people.

            • So do you favor a higher tax on your income??? I mean if we are being all compassionate and not jerk-like?

            • It’s your world – I only live it. Please do what you can to fix the mess many of your greedy, immoral, un-American peers have made. I hear peer pressure works – go for it.

    • Straight from Fairfield

      Nice restraint Dan! Anonymous, why are you calling these folks greedy self-centered jerks? I might have misunderstood your comments. In any event, I find the Mitchells to be wonderful people who care deeply about and contribute goodness to Westport. As to the other three, they seemed to contribute to their receptive culture quite a bit.

      • If anyone isn’t paying their fair share, it’s the lower 50%!!

        EVERYONE should have to pay something, not just the top 10% and the top 1%! These people carry the burden and then are demonized by the hypocrites in the liberal media and by the OWS idiots who b1tch about the 1% ‘not paying their fair share’, then want everyone to pay for their useless degrees and give them ‘free’ health care, which again, WE PAY FOR! Note to morons: It may be free to you, but someone has to pay for it! So instead of b1tching and whinning you should get down on your knees and thank the 1%, but of course it’s easier for you losers to smoke your stuff and post your latest non-event on FB while sipping your soy chai latte and expect everything for nothing.

        Now if you want to b1tch about the government giving away taxpayer dollars to to those who made bad investments, well then you should have gotten outraged back then and joined the Tea Party and not your phony astroturf, George Soros, SECIU funded pajama party!

  5. Reminds me of my neighbors right here on Cross Highway.

  6. Hello Dan. GH FS.

  7. The Dude Abides

    Westporters love these kind of articles for they wish they were that wealthy. I have no love for investment bankers but I am told they work their asses off for their bonuses. How one spends their hard earned money is up to them. But when they extend their wants beyond their income — as many here have done as well as nationally —- problems are created. BTW, Ed Mitchell used to sell jeans out of the back of his car when he first started. And Newman snubbed his nose at the rich when he used to manuver his yellow houseboat in snob-ville Southport Harbor.

  8. It’s a sad day when we begrudge people for working hard and earning lots of money.

    • Working hard at what is the question. The financial services industry, the energy extraction industry and military industrial complex are bleeding us dry. Their compensation is way beyond reasonable based on their contribution to society and their influence in all things political is outsized due their excessive compensation. It’s a circle jerk that pays very well and it is a race to the bottom for the average American citizen.

      I respect all hard working Americans – not just those who get paid the best.

      • The Dude Abides

        Oh, I agree the compensation level is way out of wack. Teachers are a perfect example of our jacked up value system. But that is not to say that the Wall Streeter or the war mongers and/or the oil patch ain’t working their tails off. For some reason, our economic system rewards their efforts far more than the rest of us peons.

      • There are people from every socio-economic background who don’t work hard and bleed us dry. We need to judge them all individually and not by their class or paycheck.

        • It’s the people who work hard to bleed us dry I’m most worried about. Greed and immorality on a grand scale is very lucrative and self delusion comes easy when you are richly rewarded.

          • Very true and very sad. This applies both to the rich, whose financial sleights of hand result in less money in our pockets, as well as to the poor who defraud social service and insurance programs that result in higher fees for everyone. Fortunately, the majority of us aren’t cut from that cloth.

  9. interested reader

    It’s sad after being away from Westport for decades now, (was raised in the 60’s and early 70’s in Westport) — that my family, my father, a teacher in the public school system and mother, a musician and bank teller, could no longer afford to raise their family in the town to which they served and gave. We as children also gave in musical concerts, plays, volunteering through our school. Sounds like in less than a generation from now, the only folks who will be able to contribute old Westport memories to Dan’s blog will be ones who live in mcmansions, european trips, ivy league, etc. Gone will be the days that I remember and can share, playing ball in the street with children of the service industry workers of Westport (construction, food, etc.), great block parties and beach parties with our neighbors (one guy made the donuts at Coffee an Donuts), Italian grandmothers cooking us meatballs for snacks on our breaks from play… each of us returning to our 2 or 3 bedroom little, albeit happy homes –God forbid! There’s progress and then there’s progress.

  10. Solaye says: just as long as we can dodge around the misinformation and ignorance about causes for the widest wealth gap county in the country, [Fairfield Co.] and all pitch in to communitise losses and Solaye says: just as long as we can dodge around the misinformation and ignorance about causes for the widest wealth gap county in the country, [Fairfield Co.] and all pitch in to communitise losses and gains as a co-responsible populace, we may be able to set the right tone and example and start the ripple effect for basically saving the planet and its suffering inhabitants. Individualism leading to rankism is the result of basic narcissism [heard it said]. I also think it is as anachronistic as the sun revolving around the earth to think that the world revolves around you and your [group] self interest.gains as a co-responsible populace, we may be able to set the right tone and example and start the ripple effect for basically saving the planet and its suffering inhabitants. Individualism leading to rankism is the result of basic narcissism [heard it said]. I also think it is as anachronistic as the sun revolving around the earth to think that the world revolves around you and your [group] self interest.

  11. The Dude Abides

    WTF? Pass the J, Sophie. I truly believe that the greater majority if not over 99% are hardworking middle class valued individuals in Westport who DO care about this town and it residents. The media (no offense Professor) has sold us this Gordon Gekko image of greed and selfishness. Certainly there is money here but nearly all is hard eared and well spent. Westport likes to brag of its exceptionalism but is truly still just a great suburb with some serious good folks.

    • Dude – look around. Class warfare is over – the poor lost.

      • The Dude Abides

        Still some of us Kennedy liberals who still believe. If the disparity becomes any greater and gun sales continue, we might just be ripe for a revolution from beneath our cardboard boxes under the turnpike. Pass the J . . .