It’s Not About Free Money
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
by Staff, Spaulding Law
Americans (and likely Canadians, Europeans, South Americans and even those in Japan, Taiwan and as far away as Australia) are obsessed with money. “Show me the monaaaaaay!” blasts the famous line from Hollywood.
Nick Saban as the head coach of National Champion Alabama makes roughly $6 million a year, which is $500,000 a month. Today, the slightly above-average NBA player will sign a five-year contract for $70 million, which is more than $1.1 million a month; and yet—you and me--we don’t even bat an eye that someone else earns that kind of money for mere entertainment. Harrison Ford was paid a cool $25 million for the latest Star Wars episode and who knows what Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) was paid for his wordless, expressionless, end of movie cameo.
Last week the world stopped and stared as 3 “lucky” individuals who “won” an unprecedented Power Ball lottery and split roughly $1.6 billion dollars, for buying a $2 ticket. That is roughly $500 million dollars each! The moment was so compelling that hoards flocked into one of the towns where a winning ticket was sold, and the store clerk who merely sold the ticket became an instant celebrity--his store won $1 million.
Money, money, money--is our society drunken on money or what?
Think of the old blockbuster “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Gene Wilder. The storyline captivated our imagination because anyone who purchased a chocolate bar, could win a lifetime supply of chocolate (and as we know, much more for Charlie) and (in the movie) the world went completely crazy buying up chocolate bars, hoping to find one of the tickets. But the story presented a deeper message, a message that has lost its steam today, but which contrasts our current obsession with “free” or “easy” money, and no one who saw the movie and cheered for Charlie, will likely forget that message.
“Actions are the seed of fate. Seeds grow into destiny” said former United States President Harry S. Truman.
“Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice” said Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company and a man who knew both failure and unimaginable fortune.
“Skill to do comes of doing” said the timeless Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Society today, adults and children alike, need more understanding of Charlie’s factory-factor and less fascination with sensationalized salaries and “free” funds. Really, where did that $1.6 billion Power Ball for 3 “lucky” winners come from? Well, as far as we can tell, it came from the pockets of people who, on the slimmest of chances, bought roughly 900 million tickets (which is roughly 3 times the US population), and almost every single person walked away empty, without even a small chunk of chocolate. And they did it because they wanted something they had not earned. Dietitians discuss empty calories—well, that is like empty spending and empty living.
Charlie bought something he enjoyed, chocolate, and in so doing, he won a ticket, however, his actions won him the opportunity of a lifetime. The message could not contrast more with the message of the Power Ball and its fuel: the crazed craving of money without action or effort. Ultimately, it was not luck that made the difference for Charlie. It was action, amplified by attitude, not a winning golden ticket; and what did it get him? A great life for him and his family. Clearly, the point is that regardless of a ticket, Charlie would have had a golden life because of who he was and what he valued.
At the end of the day, a successful life is not about the money. Chop your own wood. Develop skill through doing. And “earn your own way.” It’s unlikely that Power Ball lotteries and free money will buy happiness.
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