Several publications have diagnosed a growing socioeconomic ill: The desperate plight of lawyers, bankers, management consultants and other members of the "merely rich" who are forced to keep up with the new "superrich"--hedge-fund managers, CEOs, YouTube founders and the like.* The gap between a seven-figure income and a nine-figure income is certainly a glaring one, yet society forces such families to share gated communities, country clubs and private-school auctions. What does it profit a man to have a showy house if his neighbor has an even showier one? In a kingdom of billionaires, can a millionaire still land a passable trophy wife and buy her a spot on the board of a prestigious charity? Following in the footsteps of Depression-era photographers Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange,† we have sought to document a looming threat to the American way of life ...
• Investment banker upset to realize that last year not only did he make less than a former colleague who now runs a hedge fund but he also made less than a journeyman outfielder who now plays for the New York Mets
• Woman disturbed at being the only mother at the Greenwich Country Day School who's still driving a 2006 Cadillac Escalade when everyone else is driving 2007 Porsche Cayennes
• Line of senior vice presidents humiliated by the fact that they have to "fly commercial"
• Family of six forced to live in a home with neither an indoor driving range nor a dedicated yoga room
*SEE "REVOLT OF THE FAIRLY RICH," FORTUNE, OCT. 30, 2006, AND "A NEW CLASS WAR: THE HAVES VS. THE HAVE MORES," NEW YORK TIMES, NOV. 19, 2006