Monday, August 25, 2003

Oh, the Humanity: From Wall Street to Mean Street

Don Luskin points us to this New York Times story:

In nearly every American city or town, you can find people like Peter Jaquith. He is 67 and has $150 in his checking account. He lives on $1,100 a month in Social Security and a little help from family members. To make ends meet, he has worked as a deliveryman and a toilet cleaner.

It hasn't always been like this for Mr. Jaquith. In the 1980's, he was a partner at Lazard Frères, the elite investment bank, and the right-hand man of Felix Rohatyn, its legendary deal maker. At his peak, Mr. Jaquith was worth at least $20 million.

Back then, he led the glamorous life of a major Wall Street player. For Thanksgiving, he thought nothing of spending $40,000 to fly 30 friends to his weekend home in Palm Springs, Calif. He paid their air fares, hotel and restaurant bills and golf fees.

But one night 10 years ago, an increasingly frustrated and heavy-drinking Mr. Jaquith discovered crack cocaine. Suddenly, Mr. Jaquith, who had earned millions advising corporate tycoons on deals, found himself begging dealers with names like "Cuffie" for drugs. At one point, he wound up homeless. "Part of me wondered if he was dead," his daughter Pamela recalled.
Can we really find, in every American city or town, ex-millionare crackheads? And if so, why did it take the New York Times so long to find one?

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