Jewish World Review August 15, 2002/ 7 Elul, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Cheapskates


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Cheapskates. Despite efforts to appear generous, kindly, virtuous, and socially responsible, their true colors slither forth. I speak not of the thrifty who skimp on themselves by wading through chicken parts for 2 hours rather than springing for the extra $2.00 to purchase de-boned chicken. Thrifty souls cart their crusty cups to 7-11 for $0.39 refills and dominate grocery stores on double-coupon day. The thrifty know what it takes to earn a buck. They spend wisely, with great restraint.

Cheapskates conserve on the backs (or sides) of others. There are portly cheapskates poised to overturn Southwest Airlines' planes for its policy of requiring passengers such as Steve McCallister, 350 pounds, to buy two seats rather than having one-half of him resting on the passenger next to him in the 18 ¾-inch-wide seats.

Cheapskates economize by sticking it to others. While she may be aglow in earth tones, Martha Stewart is a cheapskate. Her gardens blossom, her soufflés rise to the occasion, and Ms. Stewart is worth over $1 billion, not counting sales from her Kmart flat enamel. But she made cell phone calls to her broker during vacation merrymaking, instructing him to dump $227,000 worth of ImClone stock the day before the company and its CEO (former companion to both Martha and her daughter) told the world that the FDA had put the big kibosh on Erbitux, ImClone's much-touted anti-cancer drug. Miserly Martha avoided the post-FDA announcement dive other ImClone shareholders ate. To Martha, losing the full $227,000 would have been the equivalent of a Blockbuster video rental late fee for you or me. Billionaire cheapskate.

Dennis Kozlowski, the former CEO of Tyco, is under indictment for allegedly skirting $1 million in sales tax on $13 million in art. His annual Tyco pay was $65 million. His W-2 reported $25 million in loans forgiven by Tyco. Also, Tyco paid, among other things, his $7.5 million decorating bill and $2.1 million for his wife's birthday bash in the Greek isles. Unassailable cheapskate.

We may never know how much Bernie Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom, borrowed from the company and didn't repay. Apropos of its accounting, the numbers keep changing. It wasn't enough for the Rigas family to cash in on Adelphia shares and become Pennsylvania's richest; they had to dip into the till. Cheapskates aren't above embezzlement. They'd rather go to prison than pay interest.

Cheapskates are indigenous to politics. Remember the House banking scandal? Elected officials used government funds to float their bad checks. The Clintons are quintessential cheapskates. Looting the White House and stiffing working stiffs on tips while restaurant campaigning in upstate New York were small potatoes. Bill and Hillary have asked taxpayers to foot legal bills for their White House years even as they wallow in $18 million in book advances and two homes furnished elegantly by both filched White House décor and friends who anted up for the first moochers.

Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney, former head of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, saved $54,000 in property taxes in Utah by paying resident rates (50%) on his $3.8 million Deer Valley home as opposed to the non-resident rate (100%). These factoids emerged when he announced his candidacy in April 2002. Tough sledding claiming a primary residence west of the Rockies while running for governor in an Eastern Seaboard state.

When the story broke, a Summit County, Utah clerk was shoved forward confessing a "clerical error." Quite plausible, but Mr. Romney needs a Massachusetts clerk to 'fess up on the part-time Massachusetts resident income tax status he claimed there. Of course, the amended Massachusetts returns for '99 and '00 declaring full-time status, filed in April 2002, explain a great deal. Olympic cheapskate.

Mrs. Clinton is not the only cheapskate to hold forth in the U.S. Senate. Don't get me started on Sen. Jon Corzine (D.N.J.). At the helm of Goldman Sachs he strong-armed clients to buy overpriced shares to fuel Goldman fees. Dot-com bubble cheapskate.

Sen. Robert Torricelli (D.), New Jersey's better half, is a heck of a fundraiser, particularly for home furnishings. Six contributors have entered guilty pleas for illegal contributions to the Torch. David Chang has receipts for a $1590 Oriental rug, a $3,816 clock and a $1,877.50 Toshiba projection TV, complete with Senator Torricelli's address for delivery. The Senate Ethics Committee found the Torch not guilty, but ordered him to give the stuff back. Tacky cheapskate.

Those whose pay will never reach six figures, who struggle to pay their sales taxes, property taxes, interest and principal on their loans, and who manage to do so without sticking it to others, stand tall among these icons of high finance, soufflés, and politics. Fame and fortune may have eluded them, but they escaped the cheapskate curse, a rare and crowning achievement in this the era of scoundrel skinflints.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

Up

08/08/02: Ode to a coal miner
08/02/02: Sarah Brady's gun gift
07/26/02: Don't do it, Tiger
07/18/02: Reality Muppets
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06/27/02: Nick not right
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06/06/02: Where was Agent Rowley when the FBI needed her?
05/30/02: Of big hair and sanity
05/24/02: Should I embrace liberalism?
05/20/02: Some passion about Israel
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05/02/02: Go ahead, pass judgment
04/29/02: The irritation of the modern wedding
04/18/02: Claire's life
04/15/02: Harvard takes off its pants one leg at a time
04/09/02: The Clinton legacy: Politics of personal destruction
03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
03/08/02: Botoxic faces
02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
12/27/01: The Twelve Days of inconsistency
12/20/01: Free Speech and the political spectrum
12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
08/02/01: FRAN, MARY JO, MONICA & CHANDRA
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
06/14/01: Which way maverick McCain? An Arizonan's perspective
06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
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12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
12/01/00: Liberals' art of trashing of women
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11/17/00: On being a statesman
11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
11/08/00: ELECTION 2000: I SURRENDER
10/27/00: Al in the package? Memo to women: Choosing presidents and husbands
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10/13/00: "You Have a Lump."
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09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
06/23/00: The liberal conversion
06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
01/11/00: Oprah's lemmings
01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
12/23/99: Confused fathers
12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
12/07/99: Turtles and teamsters, side-by-side in Seattle
11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
11/22/99: Compassionate conservative: Timing and targets
11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
11/11/99: Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of crackpots and screwballs
10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
10/14/99: Inequality and injustice: It's the big one
10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings