Money, Money, Money

About 20 years ago, I had absolutely no savings, but got a windfall when Disney acquired the company where I worked, Fairchild Publications. A few years before, I had been awarded stock (on paper) as incentive to stay at Fairchild. Normally, I would have had to wait five years to cash in, but the new owner, Disney, let us do it early.

When I learned the amount I’d get, I was ecstatic. The joy faded when I discovered it was subject to taxes. Despite my financial ineptitude, I don’t know what possessed me to think I wouldn’t have to pay taxes on this income. I’ll never forget asking Edgar, the man I was involved with back then, if there was any way I could avoid them, or pay less. He said “No!” I stewed about this a while, but it turned out, it didn’t matter since the company took the taxes out BEFORE they handed me a check.

Now here’s my point: I have never been greedy. I never pushed for raises since I believed I’d get them through my hard work; I never charge clients ridiculous fees for my company’s services, even those who normally spend inordinate amounts of money for the types of services we provide; I reward great employees before I reward myself.  I believe in the saying: “A day’s work for a day’s pay.  Nevertheless, the prospect of lots of quick money made me momentarily greedy.

I’ve been thinking about this after reading about the heaps of money that the owners of the New York Mets made from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. No one’s proven whether they knew they were stealing, but I’ve asked myself what I would have done if my investments were reaping far greater profits than most everyone else’s.  Would I have questioned my financial adviser or closed my eyes on the way to the bank?

Money isn’t necessarily at the root of all evil, but I guess it has the power to put a little bit of the devil in many of us.

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