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Jewish World Review July 16, 2002 / 7 Menachem-Av, 5762

Lou Marano

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Consumer Reports

Money as a game | After the president's speech, a group of us gathered at the dinner table to talk about money.

Not little money, but big money.

"What is the difference between a billion dollars and two billion dollars?" I asked.

A gentleman on my right (I mean really on my right) asked, "Are you a liberal?"

"No," I said, "but what can you do with two billion that you can't do with one billion, except possibly cheat on your taxes?"

I could tell I hit a sore nerve. He said, "It's a game. If you have one billion and I have two billion, then I win."

"It's not a game for those who lose their jobs and their pensions."

"If you can't afford it, you shouldn't play."

"Does it matter if you have to cheat to win?"

"Why don't you talk about the honest billionaires and not the few bad apples in the barrel?" he said.

"President Bush said he wants the bad apples to be punished and go to jail."

"He has to say that. It's an election year."

"He also failed to mention that he broke the SEC rules when he was CEO of an oil company."

"That accusation is nothing but politics. Bush didn't violate the law, his lawyers did."

There was silence at the dinner table, except for one lady who said, "Please pass the chutney."

I said, "The highest members of his administration made a fortune in the stock market before they joined the government. Now they are in charge of fiscal responsibility."

"Are you going to hold that against them? They are the best examples of how the capitalist system works. It appears you have to be educated."

He then said, "If you are not a billionaire, then how do you know what it feels like to be one?"

He had me there.

I said, "If a billionaire is sent to jail for stealing the company's money, taking out loans that were illegal and cooking the books, will the president pardon him?"

"He didn't say so in his speech, but there will be a lot of pressure to do it," was the reply .Look, not everybody who was a billionaire is still one. There are quite a few who are now only multimillionaires, but you don't hear them complaining about the rules.

Our hostess was getting nervous, "Would anyone like more baby broccoli?"

"Did anyone see the Martha Stewart show where she featured baby squash on her program?"

The man who was defending billionaires said, "That's exactly what I was talking about. Martha was a billionaire, and now she is left with nothing but millions. In the big game, she lost."

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07/11/02: Just desserts
07/02/02: So you want to win?
06/19/02: Homeland security parking
06/13/02: The Accused
06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

© 2002, TMS