And You Thought Tiger Woods' Money Gave Him The Perfect Life!
Matthew 19:24 is rather unequivocal: "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Our age, at least up until a couple of years ago, was intoxicated with materialism, toys, bling and the stampeding pursuit of currency. In the face of the mythos of greed, the admonitions of Matthew were seriously skewed by the mercenary ministers who tried to convince their congregations that God wanted them to be rich so that their tithe would burgeon.
However, the cash grab of the fire and brimstone crowd was nothing as compared to what Paul Simon called the "loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires". These were not only the new rock stars, they were considered the modern day Dionysus. Cash was sexy and for every woman who was turned on by the rugged macho charm of a Vin Diesel, there were ten who lusted after nerdy Bill Gates and his rugged macho bank account.
However, the world changed a couple of years back when the global financial bubble imploded and the world was forced to discover a new and less opulent reality. Names that had been an indelible part of America vanished overnight: Lehman Brothers, Countrywide, Nortel, CIT, and Pontiac... and many more familiar brands are now teetering on the edge: Hertz, Sprint Nextel, Macy's, CBS, Goodyear, and AMD.
The new financial reality is that the previous one was fantasy. It was built exclusively on the expectation that people would always be able to afford more expensive houses, that they could pay ever rising interest, and that the would want to buy more and more and more toys. When individuals in the developed countries finally shook themselves out of their stupor and saw their bottom line was in the red by several years of gross salary, the gratification of spending was quickly overtaken by the necessity of eating.
The poster child for blatant spending beyond any and all bounds of reality had to be the upstart money pit of Dubai. Patterned after a hyperthyroid Vegas Strip, a scraggly desert beach was turned into a concrete temple to excessive wealth literally overnight. And just as quickly it is all falling apart. The revelation that Dubai owes nearly $100 billion that it doesn't stand a snowball chance on its main street of paying was a severe slap in the face to the rose colored glasses-wearing evangelists of ever-increasing expenditures. If you thought that the 154 point spanking the Dow got on Thanksgiving Friday was hard enough, the Nikkei just haemorrhaged over 3% as I write this, and all indications are that on Monday many Wall Street wizards will be envying the turkey carcass as at least the bird is out of his misery.
No, things are not all happy and fun over in the financial arena... but that may be due to a fundamental factor which does not necessarily equate to market pressures or national deficits. For decades we've been forcefed the lie that money was happy and fun, and it turns out that it is quite the opposite. It's evil, deleterious, noxious, pernicious, malignant, insidious and outright ruinous.
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