The Fleishman Effect

This is a good piece on the struggle of working moms in catching up with the Joneses:

Archive link:

Laura, a 46-year-old mom of two in Manhattan who sends her kids to one of the city’s most prestigious private schools, says the show made her think about the choices she’s made not just for herself but for her kids. At their school, “unless you’re a parent who’s a banker with a capital B or a lawyer with a capital L, it’s like you don’t exist,” she says. The go-to bat mitzvah gift of the moment is a Cartier bracelet, for which moms are expected to pitch in for a group present. “When I heard, I almost dropped dead,” she says, admitting that now in the middle of a divorce, the extra expenses are out of her budget. “There’s pressure to give, though, and it’s huge, and then there’s this whole thought process of We signed them up for this, so we have to go along with it. They didn’t choose this life, we chose it. I was naïve when I put them on this treadmill, and now we can’t get off of it. Part of me is now like, Am I doing a disservice keeping my kids here?”

“Money is the fix for anything here,” says Paige, 40, who cringes as she tells me about the consultant she and her husband hired to help their 5-year-old get into a private kindergarten next year. “I’m like, Are we crazy? Am I doing this? We are two decent human beings, we are on boards, we are community leaders, and we are hiring someone to draft and edit our thank-you letters and to tell us to hold the door open on school tours? It’s just like, In what world is this normal? IN WHAT WORLD?” They’ve also hired a tutor and enrolled their child in Russian math—a trend now among preschool parents who’ve heard that the old Soviet method might give their children a leg up.

Read the whole piece.


TLDR; The solution, don’t follow the Joneses. Go elsewhere more affordable and within her means.

Because going elsewhere also sucks:

Since leaving New York, Beth has found herself in tears at least once a week. She makes $300,000 a year—more than she’s ever earned in her life—but she’s running out of minutes in the day to squeeze out more dollars. “How do I make the $700,000 that I’m going to need to send her to private school or do the renovation in the attic so I can turn it into the master suite so I can have a tub and so I can have one thing I enjoy in my life?” she says. Her takeaway from the show: “Both avenues are shit. You can stay in New York and climb, climb, climb and never get where you need to go and give yourself a nervous breakdown, or you can move to the suburbs and be like, Who the fuck are these pod people? Neither seems great. Is the secret to it all that we have to just choose a lane and embrace it?”

Go to Penang. Cheap cost of living. No nervous breakdown. Don’t have to be a rat.

She created her own personal hell. Attitude is everything. Hers sucks


Easy. Don’t have kids.

Hey, this is my job… (LOL)

But come on, you may have heard me mention this in the past: rich people show up everywhere. Take my experience at UCLA. Yes, a public university (granted across the street from Bel Air, etc) and surely cheaper than our crosstown rival SUC (no typo), but because it is in La La land, you can imagine the kids that do go there from So Cal. Kids of celebrities, etc. I had some peers coming from wonderful sounding cities there like Palos Verdes Estates or Pacific Palisades. Here is the true killer example: a coed undergrad who lived in the dorms across from where I lived with the athletes (Suites) was picked up by a limosine every weekend to go home. Come on!!!

seriously, using these people as examples of typical humans/parents is dumb…

There has been a lot of debate and/or ridicule on whether a 400k income is considered “rich”. I think to a lot of people here in the Bay that doesn’t strike us as “rich”. It’s solidly upper middle class. So for families making that income, if they want to move another rung higher on the social ladder, it can prove to be quite a struggle.

I don’t travel in that circle, and I don’t put my kids in private school, let alone the fancy ones. I wonder if there’s any difference between the high society scene here in the Bay compared to back East? I was pretty shocked when I found out in SF there’s still this thing called “debutante ball” that’s straight out of a Jane Austen novel.

And everybody at the ball is white of course.

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East coast tends to be old money while west coast has far more first generation wealthy people. The attitudes are completely different about it. East coast people are hyper focused on pedigree in terms of parents, their occupations, universities, etc. Going to an Ivy League school is critical even if they major is totally useless. They look down on people who have an employable degree from a normal university. I seriously had an executive assistant talk down to me for being an engineering since they had a dual degree from Dartmouth. The dual degrees were film and anthropology….

Remember all the uproar when Zuckerberg wore a hoody to meet with bankers on taking FB public? That’s a 100% east coast attitude. It’s was hilarious, since he was the customer and the bankers stood to make millions for themselves and their clients if they could win the business.


Back in the 90’s a lady from New Jersey with no degree was sent to help move a company I worked at which her employer acquired. No one took the acquiring company up on offers to move to their New Jersey headquarters. The lady quit and stayed in the Bay Area for over a decade after she discovered no one cared if she had a degree or not - they only cared about what she could do. She ultimately preferred the East Coast vibe, transferring to a company in Massachusetts. But when she left, between stock options and home equity she was about a million dollars richer. Her original employer had her salaried at 35k.


Good to hear. We are still America’s frontier.


FOR SURE - so different - we went to my SIL country club to play golf while we were vising her in NJ (NYC area) - the attitude and approach was SO ridiculous I’ve never experienced anything like it and I play golf in a lot of nice courses (Pebble Beach, etc.). You could also tell the wait staff were miserable working for these awful people…

Some of the rules were: only wearing white on tennis courts, can’t change shoes anywhere visible, can’t wear a hat inside, no jeans in the dining room, etc etc. It was so elistist and you just felt like you were walking on egg shells the whole time not to mess up. So glad I’m not living in that area to try to keep up with the joneses.