February 23, 2006

Mo Money

I'm always fascinated by stories that have to do with people's relationship to money, something that is normally so skewed in our materialistic and celebrity-obsessed culture. One of my favorite quotes from a news story ever belongs to Aaron Feurstein, the owner of Malden Mills, a textile factory in Lawrence, Massachusetts. After a devastating fire that closed his business down, Feurstein could have taken $300 million in insurance money and called it a day. Instead he continued paying his workers their full salaries for two months. When asked about his decision to give out such a large amount of money, what he said really stuck with me:

"And what would I do with it? Eat more? Buy another suit? Retire and die?"

Most people who have a lot of money always seem so obsessed about losing it, as if a life lived on a billion dollars would somehow be crimped if half of that fortune disappeared. So Feurstein's words really impressed me. One can hardly imagine Donald Trump continuing to pay out salaries if one of his buildings collapsed.

But what happens when a formerly poor man becomes suddenly rich? How does his relationship to his checkbook change? I was intrigued by this paragraph and quote from a story about the eight people in Nebraska who are sharing a record $365 million lottery jackpot:

Yet another winner, Mike Terpstra, a 47-year-old plant supervisor who is single and has no children, said he was unsure what to do with the money. "Everybody has dreams," Mr. Terpstra said. "Buy an island. Buy an airplane. In reality, I'm not a fan of flying and don't really like water."
Posted by Doug at February 23, 2006 11:48 AM