Not just the other week, I was invited to a dinner party where most of my age peers are far more successful than I, and most of them have teenagers in private schools. All their kids have iPhones, and their iPhones have iPhones. Even so, in such an affluent gathering, talk turned to plunging portfolio values and double-income couples who, less one income, were frantically dumping one car, canceling vacation plans, and even breaking their iPhone contracts. And also this: One of the mothers, and her teen son, confirmed that a handful of parents at Lakeside had yanked their kids out of school during the winter break. Tuition there is around $25K per year, I'm told, far more than when I attended (back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth). Ordinarily, there's no such thing as too much education in these circles (where SAT prep courses grease the skids to the Ivy League). But desperate times demand desperate measures, I guess. And here comes confirmation of the economic trend in The New York Times. Not just Lakeside (alma mater to Gates, Allen, and the McCaws) but Dalton and Trinity are apparently affected, too. These recession-smacked parents may fret and feel guilty at such sacrifices, but I wonder if their kids aren't receiving a very valuable lesson in the bargain. By the time they graduate college (working their way through if need be), they may be the best prepared entrants in the new, unforgiving economy.