I was idly browsing the Yahoo financial page and came across this entirely typical article
about estate planning. Tellingly sponsored by the Fidelity investment company, it begins, as all these articles do, with an anecodote.
When Les and Anna Glowacz made an estate plan five years ago, they felt confident they'd be able to pass a sizable chunk of assets to their offspring. But after the economy went south, "everything changed," says Anna, 55, a pharmacist.
Their net worth - mostly tied up in real estate investments in Chicago, where they live - has dropped roughly 15%, to about $4 million, and probably has further to fall. The couple worry that possible tax hikes down the road could take another bite, eroding the legacy started by the grit and sacrifice of Anna's immigrant parents.
Note the figure involved - $4 million. Looking at almost all similar articles reveals anecodotes of similar financial dimensions - people making six figure salaries, owning two homes, etc. What they never highlight are families making the median household income of, as of 2007, $50,233.00
- a figure that approximates my family's own household income.
So there's a big disconnect here. An affluence gap. Obviously, from a point of view of generating advertising revenue, webpages such as Yahoo Finance would like to target the top, say, 10% of income earners making well over $100,000 a year and maybe the bulk of their readers are indeed in that grouping.
But they make for dismaying and essentially irrelevent reading for those of us - by far the majority in this country - who do not belong in these higher groupings. Beyond that, there is the assumption that people who are internet savvy and financially literate enough to take an interest in online business news are, automatically, part of that same affluent grouping. Personally, all such articles do for me is increase my distrust of the entire financial services industry. So I try not to read them. But, as is clear here, they do catch my eye from time to time.