Monday, December 13, 2004

The Only Game in Town

Santa Lucia. St. Lucy's Day. The Festival of Light. And, not coincidentally perhaps, our daughter Sarah's birthday. Although my mother, a good Anglican who observed the calendar of Saints, told us that she should rightly have been called Lucy.

Did you catch the piece on the front page of yesterday's New York Times? About luxury, Bush. "Right now," a Bear, Stearns analyst who tracks the performance of high-end merchandise is reported as saying, with something of a gloat: "luxury is the only game in town." Which had me wondering, because of St. Lucy's Day, whether there was some old etymological root connecting luxury with light? I was thinking, perhaps mistakenly, that the Latin for light was lux. Maybe not. My Latin is very rusty and I don't have a Latin dictionary to hand. But as for "luxury", it seems that the derivation is from the Latin luxuria, meaning excess, extravagance--derived, in turn, from luxus, whose meaning has to do with disconnection, probably from luctari, "wrestle" or "strain." Interesting, Bush, but not quite what I expected. Though I'm not sure what I really expected from a connection
between luxury and light.

But I'm rambling. Anyway, the NYT article was an eye-opener. High-end sales are soaring, while the lower end retailers are having a hard time. Says something about our times, no? The very wealthy have money to burn, whilst others are having trouble with the basics. Not much trickle-down, so far as I can tell. Look at the art markets. Booming. The money at the top stays there in the form of luxury acquisitions. The benefits of your tax cuts, Bush. When do we see some results at the lower end of the income scale? Or at what point do you begin to take a look at the financial realities down where the majority of Americans live, and maybe re-evaluate?

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