Recession Mama

{July 3, 2009}   I Don’t Get These Guys…

—by Carla


The past week has been full of news about the death of a legend and also about the sentencing of a scam artist. But Michael Jackson and Bernie Madoff will go down in history for very different reasons. One was motivated by money and greed, the other (and I can only guess) by a deep desire to be loved and accepted.

Not many of us will ever be able to relate to either one, that’s pretty obvious. I don’t just mean MJ’s talent, either. I will never know what it must have felt like to get a check for $200,000 as a 12-year-old and being told I could spend it on whatever I wanted. But beyond that, I don’t know that I will ever understand how MJ ended up with anything less than a hundred gazillion dollars in the bank. We keep hearing over and over these past few days that he was nearly half a billion dollars in debt when he died. How in the world does that happen? Earning that much money over the course of your entire life must really do something to a person. I’m not sure what that is, but it does something. Because once you have it all, what else can you buy? There seems to have been a deep emptiness inside of Micheal Jackson that money could never fill.

Madoff, on the other hand, seems to have had no soul. Ripping people off solely for his own gain seemed perfectly fine to him. Just another day at the office. And for what? More stuff, I guess. A fancier car, a swankier pad, a yacht maybe. Who knows. But neither man had a happy ending.

As for me, I can’t say I’ve ever been that chick who was motivated by money. I do like nice things, but I’ve never been motivated by money. And that mindset may have helped me when I was laid off since I could see beyond the absent paycheck…and life wasn’t going to be so bad. Hopefully the nearly half a million people who lost their jobs just last month feel the same way.


Katy says:

May MJ rest in peace. And I won’t even mention where Madoff should end up. Jail for 100+ years is enough. Money can do strange things to people. Imagine all of the good they could’ve done in the world if only just half of the money went to help others, instead of helping themselves.

recessionmama says:

From Heather: Money does make people crazy. It can buy you peace of mind… but it can’t buy you true happiness.

Plymouth says:

I’m not surprised that Michael Jackson died with half a billion in debt. Conventional wisdom in the US for the past 3 decades has been to get into as much debt as possible to maximize your potential profits. Look at all the people who took out massive, and unpayable home equity loans over the last few years. It was conventional wisdom that if you had money stuck in your home equity (ie your house was payed off), you were a poor investor.

As for Madoff, he is indicative of the Wall Street culture. Goldman Sachs just recently sued a former employee for stealing software that “can manipulate the US stock market”. Banks have been gouging credit card customers for years with 30% + rates and outrageous fees for essentially providing no service. They currently have their own special accounting rules that allow them to declare assets (like home mortgages) as un-marketable, so they can make up whatever price they like.

These two financial personalities are symbolic of the two sides of the American economy: The uninterested Consumer/Investor (victim) and the knowledgeable Broker (criminal)

Katy says:

Very interesting! I’m sure there’s a third personality…

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