Too Much?

I see that the cash prize for the Powerball lottery is now $756.6 million — three-quarters of a billion dollars.  (And yes, I know the odds of winning are only an infinitesimal fraction higher than not winning — let’s ignore that for the moment, it’s a different discussion.)

My question is:  how would an individual’s life change if he were suddenly win an amount that large?  (Let’s also take the IRS Shylock out of the equation, and allow that about a third of that amount would be confiscated / stolen / appropriated by the FedGov — once again, a topic for another discussion.)  So you’re left with “only” half a billion dollars.

How do you spend that amount of money?

As a rich guy once said:  “When you have that much money, ownership becomes only a matter of time.” 

I have some serious misgivings about suddenly coming into wealth to that degree, because along with that all sorts of lifestyle changes come into play;  for example, you’d have to pay for a security service both for yourself and your family, but also for your house(s) and other property.

Some people would say, “Oh, I’d buy a small business and run it.”  Seriously?  You’d carry on working?  (One man of my acquaintance had an excellent take on it:  “I’d buy a minor-league baseball team and run it”, which actually makes a great deal of sense if you’re a baseball fan.  Forget pro league teams;  too expensive — even for a semi-billionaire — and too many headaches.)

Then there’s property.  In my own situation, I’d get a small condo / townhouse in the Dallas area, simply as a primary residence for tax purposes, and also because I’d be doing a lot of international travel, you betcha, and DFW airport is perfect for that.  I’d also want some kind of property (in a friendly state, i.e. not one with stupid gun- and tax laws) large enough for me to set up a small shooting range, where I could blast away with my somewhat errrr enhanced gun collection as often as I wished.  New Wife loves the New England coast, as do I, so a small beachfront property somewhere in Maine (see above for qualifications) would make a nice summer getaway.

Or would it?  Considering that you would only be there for the summer (Maine winters, nuh uh), would it not be better to find a decent hotel in somewhere like Boothbay Harbor and just use it as needed, thus eliminating the hassle of maintaining a place all year round?

The same is true with having a place outside the U.S. (Nassau, Bermuda, Monaco etc.).  Using Monaco as an example, you could stay in an oceanview suite at the Fairmont Hotel for a month each year for fifty-odd years, for the cost of a decent condo in the Principality.  Ditto London and the Ritz, Paris and the George V, and so on.  (Given my age, that strikes me as somewhat more appealing than just having a place to brag about.)

I don’t have any desire to own a boat or private jet, so forget that shit.  First-class accommodations, in almost any quantity, are cheaper than owning (and docking, crewing, and maintaining) a decent-sized yacht, and ditto a private jet and its associated costs.  I might be rich, but I ain’t a complete idiot.

In fact, I’m also at that stage of  my life where possessions are somewhat meaningless, because I figure that at best, I’d have proper use of them for about a dozen years before I croak.  So other than that BMW Z8, I probably wouldn’t have a serious car collection — maybe a vintage 1954 Merc 300 SC for nostalgia purposes, a “guns & groceries” car like a Merc G550… and that’s it.

All my adult life, I’ve had to own cars as utility vehicles — band equipment, family conveyance, etc. — so I’d like to indulge myself just a little.  Of course, there are other options — Dino 246GT (but no, because of the time it would spend with Tony The Scuderia Mechanic), the Eagle E-type Jag (2-year waiting list, nope) and so on.  My criteria for cars are simple:  they have to be reliable (capable of being driven every day without hesitation), and they have to be beautiful (the G550 gets a pass on that because it’s a utility vehicle).

By the way, those are also my criteria for guns.

As for other rich man’s hobbies:  I no longer drink wine in any quantity, so no wine collection, ditto  single-malt Scotch (although I would have a few different ones around, if only for variety’s sake).  So just the guns, and lots of time shooting.  I’d also be tempted to get a Class III FFL, just for convenience, and so I could track down and purchase a Steyr MP-34:

I might — repeat might — be tempted to fund a department at Hillsdale, but only for them, and provided that there was a tax advantage attached;  ditto a few scholarships (also only at Hillsdale — I’m not going to give money to any of today’s little Leninist think-tanks).  I might also be tempted into paying the Second Amendment Foundation a large one-time sum because Alan and his guys seem to be the only ones actually doing something about the Second Amendment.

Otherwise, the rest of the world could just fuck right off.

Forget charity.  I’m not a charitable person at the best of times, and one thing I’ve learned about all charities is that the people running them do a lot better than the intended recipients, so screw them all.

Finally, forget investments.  With that amount of cash in hand, I’d have no need to grow it nor even preserve it, given that dozen-year time limit.  (The family would already have been taken care of through trust funds, so if I were to die with a hundred dollars left in the checking account, that would be quite okay.  Also, no death duties — fuck the IRS, they already had their pound of flesh.)

Just to recap:  paying for all the above — family trusts included — would leave me with about a hundred million dollars unspent.

You see the problem?

And then there’s this guy — although it should be noted that he was a young ‘un when he won.

Filthy Rich

I’m not afflicted with wealth envy, because I’m not a Communist.  I do get upset, however, when the rich leverage their wealth to become still richer (as opposed to creating more wealth through productivity), or when people such as the late Senator Harry Reid become wealthy by abuse of their position, or by fraud (like this asshole, this asshole and this tart).

I’m also not envious of people who become rich by pure luck:  lottery winners, or people like the Sultan of Brunei, whose country just happens to be sitting on an ocean of oil and natural gas — and who went and created a $5 billion (with-a-B) collection of cars, supercars, bespoke supercars and so on, as discussed here.  I’m not upset that most of the cars have never been driven, or that they’re falling apart and becoming unrecoverable.  Rich people do stupid shit, and that’s the way of the world.

As is the case with people who spend over $100 million to own apartments in New Yawk fucking City that they’ll never visit.

The difference between them and the idiotic Sultan is that their spending is an investment, whereas the Sultan’s spending is just money thrown away, as befits so much of this kind of thing in the Third World.  The latter is similar to inheriting ten million bucks from Aunt Ethel, spending $1,000 on handmade chocolate bars, and never eating any of them.  That kind of spending is actually symptomatic of a psychological defect — but still, I don’t care.

The point about those real estate buyers is that if the real estate market crashes, and it will, the value of their investment will plummet — and they still won’t care too much, because they have that much money.  And remember the truism:  in five generations (or less), all fortunes, no matter how vast, are dissipated.

Which brings me back to my opening statement:  I really don’t care how much money people have, nor how it’s spent.

What does get up my nose is when governments do the same kind of thing as the Sultan of Brunei does:  only with our money and not their own.