Looking back at it all, envy seemed the university lifeblood. Most other professionals, you see, were, in comparison to us, overpaid —especially those whom we had the misfortune of sometimes coming in contact with, or, worse, even socializing among. Go to campus and the present demonization of Vegas, Wall Street, surgeons, and insurers makes perfect sense.
Money both repelled and yet attracted academics, those strange summer moths that hated the cash bulb and yet could not resist its radiance. MDs, MBAs, JDs — all these folks had studied far less than we had! And yet, most unfairly, they now made far more money! We, of course, to paraphrase Barack Obama, out of altruism had passed on all those easy avenues of getting rich (identifying a Latin gerundive or an underappreciated 19th suffragette being far more difficult than cracking open someone’s brain or building a shopping center). (By the way, did you ever really believe Barack or Michelle that they could have waltzed over to Wall Street and struck it rich — as if such merchandising and monetizing were no more demanding than community organizing? To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: “I’ve known Wall Street hustlers, and you’re no Wall Street hustler, Barack”.)
Our nobility and intelligence, cheek-by-jowl, explained our genteel poverty. Crassness and a sort of sneaky cleverness — as well as greed — accounted for the rich others who had used their education not to impart knowledge, but to manipulate it. (And they did not even know how to spend all that money: we went to Marbella; they bought idiotic things like guns, snowmobiles, and video games.)