Saturday, November 17, 2007

All the Money You Could Want

Most of us go through life wishing for more money but are never faced with deciding what to do with endless amounts. A news story today suggests how much imagination it takes to deal with no limits.

After a tax scam that yielded millions, the FBI raided a modest home and garage in Washington to find a Mercedes, tons of designer shoes and luggage, silver-plated iguana figurines, 13 watches including a Rolex, 90 purses (47 from Chanel), flutes and goblets by Steuben, a Faberge egg and a silver bar cart as well as courtesy cards used by regular gamblers in half a dozen Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos, phone bills of $1500 a month and travel receipts from all over. They filled 25 boxes with clothes and listed 414 unidentified pieces in the inventory.

But all this is only a testament to the banality of greed, a kind of Home Shopping Network vision of huge wealth. Without imagination, the woman who apparently embezzled more than $20 million from the D.C. government used it to become a glorified bag lady.

How much more complicated is it for the Warren Buffets, Bill Gateses, and Oprahs of the world, trying to do good, a Mike Bloomberg, pondering whether to buy the White House, or a Rupert Murdoch, too busy trying to acquire more power and influence to spend much actual money in his own life?

For some, it can produce deprivation by surfeit, psychological chaos (pace Paris Hilton and her ilk). For box-office actors and superstar athletes, there are booby traps of hubris and self-importance.

For politicians controlling huge amounts of other people's money, see the President and Congress squabbling over which is acting more like the teenager with an unlimited credit card.

For the rest of us, there is the iffy consolation of believing it's too much money that may actually be the root of all evil.

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