2002-03-16 / Columnists

From the G-Man

By Gary G. Toms
When Fools Have All The Money

Can someone please explain to me why people of immense wealth always seem to ruin their lives because of sheer stupidity? Whether it's a movie star, athlete or political person, these people have been blessed with opportunities and circumstances that many of us can only dream of, and because of poor judgment or blatant recklessness, they lose it all. Yes, I'm way ahead of you. The G-man does have a few people in mind that serve as perfect examples of what I am professing.

Let's start with Jayson Williams. How many millions was this guy making? Even after his knee injury, which ultimately caused him to retire from the NBA, he still managed to land a "cushy" job as an NBA commentator. He was a man of excess who constantly kept himself and his friends in the spotlight. When Williams threw a party, an empty glass of booze for his guests was a no-no. My sources tell me that Williams could be quite reckless, and they felt that it was just a matter of time before it would catch up to him. It seems that he has become another victim of the trappings of success, and it's really a shame.

Gary Condit is an example of a fool from the world of politics. In his case, he had what every man cherishes and appreciates…. power! His problem was that he let that power go to his head. He thought he could be a "player" by having the wife at home and a little "PYT" (Pretty Young Thing) on the side. He thinks he can cover up the truth about Chandra Levy, but the truth will come out. Power, money and prestige are the driving forces behind his deceptive actions, and I am convinced that he is the type of man that will do whatever it takes to hold on to power. The level of arrogance he displays is amazing? Either he considers himself untouchable, or this is a man who is in serious denial about his role in Levy's disappearance. His political career is over! Don't be surprised if you see HIM on the cable networks after signing a three-year deal to be a political commentator.

The idiots involved in the Enron mess really crack me up. They represent greed and stupidity at its finest. The top executives are in the proverbial hot seat, and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them squirm during the hearings. They were not content with making nice, fat salaries and being the beneficiaries of "golden parachutes." No, they had to have more. They bilked the employees for the sake of increasing their profit margins, personal bank accounts and level of power. Like the other cases noted, I'm sure the people involved in the Enron catastrophe now wish they'd done things differently. It would be pretty frightening to go from the comfort of a $1,000,000 executive office to a jail cell, and that is a strong possibility for many of those who had a role in destroying the lives of Enron employees. I suggest these guys start preparing themselves by watching the HBO series "Oz".

I sincerely hope that young people are looking at these situations and learning important lessons from them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with obtaining wealth and status. However, how you live your life once you obtain success is the key thing. You can choose to share you're wealth through philanthropic acts, and seriously focus on doing good in the world, or you can take the blessings for granted and eventually destroy yourself in some way.

For whatever reason, the people noted in this column did not realize just how blessed they were, and not making that connection caused them to self-destruct.

See you next week.

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