From this week’s New York Sunday Times Real Estate section, under the headline “Lives Streamlined for a New Era” comes this beginning:

Few things keep Jason Bell awake at night. But last fall, worried about the direction of the economy, Mr. Bell laid off three employees to make sure his small interior design firm would stay afloat. He took similar actions at home. To avoid getting into financial trouble, Mr. Bell, 36, and his wife, Marion, an architect, decided to move out of their 2,200-square-foot two-bedroom TriBeCa apartment, which cost them $6,950 a month in rent.

They considered moving with their 8-month-old baby to their weekend home in Millbrook, N.Y., but neither wanted to commute for two hours in each direction. So in December they went hunting for a smaller apartment in Manhattan. Each time they saw a place that seemed promising, they went home and spent hours drawing floor plans to see if their furniture would fit. Finally, in February, they settled on a two-bedroom apartment in the financial district for $4,500, which, while one-third cheaper, was also only 900 square feet.

They chose it even though they knew their possessions would not fit. They considered ditching their oversized sofa and buying a new one, but balked at the expense. Ultimately, their Tiffany china went to the country house, as did the dining room table for 12, a large kitchen cabinet and much of their cooking gear.

The article is written apparently without irony. It is, however, such an epic of cluelessness as to beggar the imagination. Having to move from an apartment renting for $7000/month to one renting for $4500/month! Being forced to leave the china at the summer home! Proactively laying off three (nameless) employees! Oh, the agony! The shame!

If you are wealthy, then, to the Times, you are a story in your own right. If you are not, then you tend to be reduced to a number: so many hundreds of thousands laid off; so many millions without health insurance. There are those who are important as individuals and those important only in aggregate.