SOME thoughts on wealth. "It is neither wealth nor splendour, but tranquillity and occupation which give you happiness," said Thomas Jefferson, to which I can only say, bite me! I have been working (that is, had an "occupation") since I was 18 and I am tired. And by tired I mean exhausted. I am not tranquil - I'm mad as hell that my years of employment have afforded me neither wealth nor splendour. And to suggest that tranquillity will, along with work, bring you happiness is specious. Tranquillity brings naught but sloth; tranquil workers are notoriously lazy, uncreative and the butt of most office gossip.
Here's another corker: "Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It comes as a by-product of providing a useful service." This from Henry Ford, so it's easy for him to say because all he did is create a world-altering motor company and helped develop the assembly line so that drones like us could help mass-produce widgets. What "useful service" did he create? Okay, yes, cars and stuff, and employment, and no small amount of philanthropy, but you're missing the point! What he "sought after directly" was wealth, not happiness as a by-product, so his comment is both disingenuous and smug.
This from Henry David Thoreau: "Wealth is the ability to fully experience life." Clearly there is a printed error here, for it should read: "Having wealth is the ability to fully experience life." How can one fully experience life when you're too busy working to maintain a house (in which to sleep when not at work) and a car (in which to get to work)? The trick is to be independently wealthy. But how? Alas, women are no longer allowed to be "kept"; we're expected to have a career and frankly I'm sick of it. But if you work from 18 and aren't smart enough to learn about the right investment products (or sugar daddies) from a young age, it's clearly one's own fault.
So there remain only two ways to get wealth: inheriting it or winning it. The former almost always entails being born of good stock, for the chances of a distant and unknown relative bestowing millions on you are not high if you're born with a plastic spoon in your mouth. Which leaves the lottery.
Almost all unctuous quotes about wealth imply that money can't buy you love or happiness, which is nonsense; these two essentials have been purchased by money since money began. It may have been invented for that very purpose, as can be seen in Lottery Changed my Life (TLC). One lottery winner, middle-aged, recently laid-off and living with his mother, won $75,6m (after tax, he banked $25m). Buying stuff has become his full-time hobby, and his full-time hobby has become his life: he bought a Nascar truck team. He went from being in the pits to being in the pit. And he is happy.
Another man won a few million and banked a portion of it, after tax, and guess what? He's happy too. Out of work and alone, he bought cars for his unemployed friends, paid off their mortgages, then bought himself a big boat and a big fishing store he named Crappy Jack's. He also hunted down his first ex-wife and remarried her. Sadly, he's spent all his money so there's none left with which to fix her teeth. But who cares when you're living large at Crappy Jack's?
Years ago, possibly in a psychology textbook, I read that the bigger a person's dreams - the more unlikely they are to be realised - the more depressed or desperate a person is. So if you're spending a lot of time fantasising about winning the lottery, perhaps you should examine your life and what you want from it more carefully. Or perhaps just buy more tickets. But if you win, how do you tell people that you're newly wealthy when you got rich the trailer trash way? Simple: you lie. Airy references to that relative will not be questioned as all your acquaintances will now want to be your friends and will not give a damn about details.
Socrates said: "If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known how he employs it." Who the hell is some old pederast to speak on a person's wealth and how he employs it? Or got it.
If I won those millions, the things for which I would employ them would be simple: I'd make Manhattan my second home; travel the world; learn French to fluency, in France; I would have to write that book as I would have the time and the money - two things we almost never have simultaneously; and I'd buy lots of friends to avoid turning into a version of Howard Hughes. It's called money well spent, if not well earned. And I'm feeling lucky/desperate this week.