Wednesday, July 06, 2005

That 50s Show

Megan McArdle catches Louis Uichetelle, not only rewriting a Paul Krugman Op-ed, but (also Krugman-like) getting it wrong:

If Mr Uichetelle read the novel, he can't have read it very closely. Not only does the age gap elude him, but he says:

But Tom, like most Americans in the first three decades after World War II, took a rising standard of living for granted. When he needed more income to make ends meet, he simply landed a better-paying job. Indeed, at parties throughout suburbia, Mr. Wilson wrote, "the public celebration of increases in salary was common." And Tom didn't fret about medical bills, job security or the quality of public schools for his three children.

Tom doesn't take "a rising standard of living for granted"--the book opens with his despair over the crackerbox house that he can't afford to move out of. He didn't just "simply land a better job"--he gets it fortuitously, through a personal connection. And half the book consists of Tom "worrying about job security"--he is constantly afraid that he is going to be fired from his cushy new job, and won't be able to get his old one back. A good portion of the other half consists of him worrying about his children's inadequate schools.

Indeed, one can read the opening of the novel for oneself over at, and see that Megan is correct. The Raths are embarrassed by their house, because it shows that they are neither capable of taking care of it properly, nor of paying someone else to do so.

Or, there's the NY Times obituary of Mr. Wilson, which describes the Raths as:

Married for 12 years, with time taken away by war and now with three small children, they fret in a tacky house in Westport, Conn., driven by contrary social aspirations and not enough money to enjoy any of it. The house needs repair, the children schooling, and the car is wheezing.

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