People had lottery fever this month. For some reason, they think being a multi-millionaire will solve their problems.
Many of these ticket-buyers are what I kindly refer to as addicts. They go to the corner store every day, play the same tickets in the same order, get the same scratchers, and return again and again to buy more tickets with their winnings.
But you are more likely to become an A-list Hollywood celebrity than win the lottery. I told a woman the other day to try her luck on the silver screen after her lottery tickets were revealed as losers. She wasn't amused.
Before anyone plays the lottery, I think they should think more about the real consequences of becoming sudden millionaires, instead of all the outrageous things they'd buy.
Take for instance, Jack Whittaker. He won $315 million in 2002. Ten years later, his daughter and granddaughter died of drug overdoses, his wife divorced him, and he had been sued numerous times. He was also robbed of half a million outside a strip club. Classy.
If you'll indulge me a moment, I'm going to get a little philosophical on you.
Personal wealth is selfish. Yes, I said it. No one person should have millions and billions of dollars to purchase diamond manicures and crystal bathtubs. Why? People live in cardboard boxes, millions of children are dying of AIDS in Africa, people in the US can't afford prescription medication and our oceans are full of garbage. I could go on.
If someone has been fortunate enough in this life to be rewarded with incredible wealth, it is the spiritual duty of that person to share it with others. That is the purpose of wealth, and the only purpose. If you're not giving at least some of your money to charity to cure cancer, or create a nature preserve, or feed millions of hungry children, then you're spending it on stuff. Do you need stuff? See George Carlin's stand up routine on the topic -- he can articulate the absurdity of having lots of meaningless things better than I can.
And besides the obvious fear of bad luck, like Mr. Whittaker enjoyed, I think it's far more satisfying to earn your rewards through hard work than to have them handed to you. Do you want to be snide and spoiled like Paris Hilton? I think not.
All this being said, I understand why people want to win the lottery -- it represents freedom from worry and work, and an invitation to a life of luxury and peace. But life isn't that simple. Money can't protect you from everything -- maybe it'll buy off a few judges after you get your first DUI (every stinking rich person must have one) but that's it.
I'll close with something a souvenir peddler said to me outside the Coliseum when I was in Rome on my honeymoon (a trip paid for with hard-earned money). I told him I didn't have enough money to pay sticker price on a mini-bust of the David. He asked me if I had friends and family, and I said yes.
"Then you are already rich!" he said.