I saw a story today that said former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is bankrupt. While I know that the term bankrupt has several different financial meanings, it brought me back to the story a few weeks ago that said former Tonight show co-host Ed McMahon is about to lose his home by foreclosure.
I realize that these are two isolated incidents involving people who had more money than brains, but it makes me think that fame and fortune aren't always what they're cracked up to be. At best, there is a tenuous relationship between people and money, and sometimes the more you have the more careless you are with it.
Take for example, Charles Barkley. Barkley would think nothing of spending $400,000 gambling, saying that he had it to spend and it meant nothing to him. I think therein lies the foible of great wealth - the ensuing disrespect of money and its value.
Some of us would run over a kid in a wheelchair for $400,000; but people with millions figure that they can throw it away on something as frivolous as gambling and think nothing of it. They don't think of it until they are down to their last $400,000 and the mortgage company or casino comes calling. Then, suddenly they recall the value of the money, because they no longer have it.
It's a sad state of affairs when some people, whether by circumstance (McMahon) or talent (Barkley) acquire money that in the end, they have not learned the value of. McMahon hosted the prehistoric, and less successful version of American Idol (Star Search), laughed when Carson laughed and went on to a lucrative career hawking all manner of junk to people his own age. Vick and Barkley are skilled nitwits who failed to realize (Vick too late, Barkley just in time) what life had given them. All of them pissed away a fortune.
I think about stuff like that whenever I see someone achieve great wealth either because of the way they look or whom their relatives are. Most of us work like Hell to survive from week to week and something as small as a $600 check from the government makes us think about what we'll do with the money. People like Barkley would take it to a casino and it would be gone in less time than it took to open the envelope.
That's the sad part. That life and its rewards are so diverse as to exclude great numbers of people who would genuinely appreciate a fraction of what people with no real skill are given merely because they breathe air and walk upright. Fashion models and other so-called "beautiful people" make $600 in less time than it takes to read this essay, and it comes so quickly and easily that they have lost perspective of its value.
I suppose, in the final analysis I'm some sort of Socialist who believes in equal distribution of wealth, and that the supremely rich are entitled to share at least some of what they have so that those in the lower strata are not so put-upon that they awake every morning wondering how they will manage to pay their bills or find food for their children. The kind of person who believes that life is meant to live, not survive and that when the end comes for the wealthy, theirs is no more than ours - so why allow their earthly time to be so much more rewarding?
If that's who I am, I suppose I'll have to live with it.