Excellent post over at God of the Machine on Schadenfreude. Among the highlights:
It is failure, not mere bad luck, that universally gladdens the human heart.
I am rooting not for failure but for justice.
That seems exactly right. And he even explains why Fehlschlagenfreude is a better word for it.
On the other hand, i can't agree with this related post at 2blowhards.
Still, in some ways, life is more agreeable than it was when money seemed more abundant, isn't it?
Conclusion: Maybe the occasional chastening episode isn't such a bad thing.
Seeing a hedge fund laid low because it falsely promised high, risk-free returns (as Long Term Capital Management did) is one thing. To revel in the desperation of retail workers is something completely different. Yeah, i hold highly paid people to a higher standard i guess.
But, I have to admit that i am fairly tolerant of indifferent customer service. I expect courtesy but i don't get bent out of shape if the clerk or waiter makes an honest mistake or fails to act like a proper British servant. In fact, slavish service makes me uncomfortable. I find it profoundly un-American. That Upstairs/Downstairs thing is best left for the Brits.