In my lifetime I have come to understand a lot of things. I also have come to accept a lot of things that I cannot understand. I think I am no different than most people in that regard. There is, however, one thing that I just cannot understand or accept. That enigma is the thinking of wealthy and ultra wealthy people. What brought about this essay are the current troubles of the world's greatest golfer, Tiger Woods. You have all heard the stories and rampant speculation of his latest trials and tribulation so I will not waste this space rehashing the story, but the issue brings me to the theme of my lack of understanding.
First of all, I do not choose to pick on Tiger. I am a huge fan of his golfing ability. That having been said, I do not know him personally and probably wouldn't care to. I understand that he has a net worth in excess of a billion dollars. Good for him, I guess. Money and fame, it would seem though, have also brought him troubles and troubles on steroids. Because of his "star" status, he is a magnet for young ladies wanting to get their hands on some of that money. Recent reports state that he has a prenuptial agreement with his trophy wife that guarantees her several million dollars if she stays married to him for a certain period. If she produces children she is in for some more money. Now that the compost has hit the fan, she is apparently renegotiating that agreement. Instead of just getting maybe fifty million dollars, she seems to be asking for half of his net worth, something to the tune of five hundred million. Is their marriage based on love or money? Did Tiger marry her or buy her? Just a question.
This is part of my lack of understanding. Do you know how much money a million dollars is? Do you have any concept then of what fifty times that amount is? That is what I am talking about in this column. How on earth could you spend it? It would multiply faster than you could dispose of it. Does money at that level have any value to those who pursue it, or is it just a way of keeping score?
It seems that some millionaires and billionaires, whether in business or sports, are driven not to enjoy their accomplishments, but instead to continue to make even more money. It appears that they can never have enough. Many drive themselves to early graves pursuing unknown and unattainable satisfaction that always seems just out of reach. Some would say that is their satisfaction. If so, I don't understand that either. Do they then qualify for the best grave site in the cemetery? Is that as ridiculous sounding to you as it is to me?
This is my understanding of life. Once you have housed, clothed and fed yourself, the only thing left is more of the same. You can only have one wife at a time. Any more is bigamy or, as my brother once said, pigamy. You can only live in one house at a time. You can only wear so many clothes. You can only eat so much. How many cars can you drive? I know of people who have garages full of different cars. I wonder in their most private moments what do they think about? Do they worry that their neighbor might have a dollar or two more than they? I knew of a gentleman who, at a point in his life, sold his company and realized a net profit of twenty-five million dollars. I asked him now that he had all that money, what could possibly worry him? His reply stunned me. He said that when he visits his friends who have more than twenty-five million, they look down their noses at him. What a sad state of affairs.
I know that many wealthy people do wonderful things with their money and I say good for them. Many charities benefit from their benevolences. Marvelous. To my way of thinking, that is the way it should be.
To any millionaires and billionaires who might stumble upon this blog, I have just this bit of counsel, money is a terrible way of keeping score. Another friend once told me that there is no U-Haul trailer on the back of a hearse. Enjoy your life and your wealth but remember your days are, as are mine, numbered. Spend them wisely.
Ron Scarbro December 4, 2009
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