NY Debutantes unaware of financial mayhem

This is why peasants revolt.

Monday night, the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in Manhattan was home to the International Debutante Ball. This display of insanely conspicuous consumption proves that, regardless of how bad economic conditions get, a generation of children will be blissfully unaware that actions have consequences. These are people that the NY Times’ Lisa Foderaro describes in such manners as, “willowy 18-year-old with chestnut hair who is a great-great-granddaughter of a 19th-century French president.” Why should they have to know what suffering the proletariat sustains?

The good news is that even the rich are suffering in this market. Attendance at the ball was down this year. There were 47 debutantes, while there were 58 in 2006. The number of guests dropped from 976 two years ago to 662 two days ago. Yet, the director of the ball, Margaret Hedberg, refuses to let reality intrude on this fantasy world. A table at Monday night’s event would have set you back $14,000, which Hedberg believes wasn’t unreasonable. “Watches cost more,” she said, probably in a way that would make the rest of us hear, “Let them eat cake.”

The good news? Foderaro writes, “Some parents recognized the disconnect between the opulence inside the hotel’s gilded doors and the mood beyond them.” For those who struggled to realize that the cost of a table is more than some people make in a year, solace was found in the fact that the event raised a few hundred grand for charity, mostly the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club.

And, if nothing else, Hedberg observes that we got through the recession of the late 1980s/early 1990s, and “life does have a way of going on.”

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[Via NY Times, photo via Christchurch City Libraries on Flickr]