Wittgenstein Heirs Lost Family Wealth and “Found Little Happiness”

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Source of book image: online version of the WSJ review quoted and cited below.

(p. W10) As he lay dying during Christmas 1912 — from a gruesome throat cancer — the Viennese industrialist Karl Wittgenstein no doubt took some comfort in the fact that he was leaving to his heirs one of the largest fortunes in Europe. He had acquired his wealth in just 30 years, the period during which Wittgenstein, an engineer, transformed a small steel mill into Europe’s largest steel cartel through a combination of hard work, luck and ruthlessness. As der österreichische Eisenkönig (the “Austrian iron king”), he was the chief executive, principal shareholder or director of dozens of industrial companies and banks that provided the ore, manufacturing and financing for most of the steel products of the Habsburg Empire.

In his spare time, Wittgenstein acquired a spectacular house in Vienna, grandly styled as the family’s Palais Wittgenstein.
. . .
Today, though, the Wittgenstein millions are gone and the Palais replaced by a hideous concrete apartment block. “Riches,” Adam Smith wrote, “. . . very seldom remain long in the same family.” Alexander Waugh’s grimly amusing “The House of Wittgenstein” shows how the family fortune was lost and how the family members themselves, despite instances of prodigious talent and accomplishment, found little happiness in their own lives or pleasure in their sibling relations.

For the full review, see:
JAMES F. PENROSE. “BOOKS; A Viennese Blend: Riches and Rancor; Blessed by Musical and Intellectual Gifts, and Lots of Money, a Family Still Struggled to Find Harmony.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., March 1, 2009): W10.
(Note: ellipsis added; italics in original.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date February 28, 2009.)

The book under review is:
Waugh, Alexander. The House of Wittgenstein: A Family at War. New York: Doubleday, 2009.

For Right to Rise, French Youth Must Leave France’s “Decrepit, Overcentralized Gerontocracy”

(p. 4) The French aren’t used to the idea that their country, like so many others in Europe, might be one of emigration — that people might actually want to leave. To many French people, it’s a completely foreign notion that, around the world and throughout history, voting with one’s feet has been the most widely available means to vote at all.
. . .
When the journalist Mouloud Achour, the rapper Mokless and I published a column in the French daily Libération last September, arguing that France was a decrepit, overcentralized gerontocracy and that French youths should pack their bags and go find better opportunities elsewhere in the world, it caused an uproar.
. . .
It was a divide between those who have found their place in the system and believe fervently in defending the status quo, and those who are aware that a country that has tolerated a youth unemployment rate of 25 percent for nearly 30 years isn’t a place where the rising generations can expect to rise to much of anything.

For the full commentary, see:
FELIX MARQUARDT. “OPINION; The Best Hope for France’s Young? Get Out.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., June 30, 2013): 4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary is dated June 29, 2013.)

“Quality of Life Is Better” with a Home Electricity Generator

LaDucaCharlesGeneratorBuyer2013-07-22.jpg “AGAINST ALL STORMS; Charles LaDuca of Bethesda, Md., spent about $12,000 to buy and install a 14-kilowatt generator, below.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. F8) After Tropical Storm Irene pummeled the Northeast in 2011, Keith and Barbara Wolff realized it was time to act. Though they were spared during Irene, several other storms had cut the power to their home in Brookfield, Conn., forcing them to throw out food, wear sweaters to keep warm and find coffee shops to recharge their cellphones and laptops.

So the Wolffs did what many of their neighbors had done: They bought a portable, gasoline-powered generator that produced enough electricity to run many of their essential appliances, including their refrigerator, water well, hot water tank, heater and home offices.
The Wolffs paid about $1,000 for a 7,500-watt generator made by Generac. A week after paying an electrician $900 to hook up the unit to their electrical system, they put their new purchase to work when a snowstorm knocked out their power for nine days.
“It was a pretty hefty investment, but it was well worth it because when it’s cold out, you want to at least be able to take a shower,” Mr. Wolff said. “There are two things you can do: Be completely aggravated and non-functional or do a workaround so your quality of life is better.”

For the full story, see:
KEN BELSON. “Power Grids Iffy, Populous Areas Go for Generators.” The New York Times (Thurs., April 25, 2013): F8.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated April 24, 2013.)

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Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.