Monday, November 12, 2007

Talk about "other worlds"

Well, it's finally happened-I've finally interviewed a man who's business is worth "something over" a billion. Yes, I said BILLION. A BILLION dollars. Zoinkees. He said he has a "boat" worth more than $500,000,000 (that's five hundred million). I can't even begin to fathom (pardon the pun).

This man is nice to me, brusque but polite. As a matter of fact, he is calling me when he has 20 or 30 minutes to work on the survey, rather than me having to chase him down. But he has no clue about the world that most of us inhabit. We have questions about people's reasons for "saving and planning for the future". He genuinely does not understand the questions. He's never had to think in terms of future personal financial security. We haven't gotten to the section on inheritances or trusts but I'm sure that he began life with a very cushioned financial foundation. I haven't yet interviewed a very wealthy person who didn't, at the very least, have his education paid for through an inheritance or trust. It takes money to make money, as they say.

One of the last questions is about how much money the respondent gave to charity last year. I really hope that this guy has been generous. I get so disappointed when very wealthy people, who's income was in the 7 or 8 digits (or more), gave not very much to others. One guy I interviewed, had given 6 million the previous year. His brother was also wealthy and they seemed to be having a competition to see who could endow the most wings. That's good competition. Much better than "whoever dies with the most toys" thinking. A $500,000,000 boat, for instance.

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