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Gain the Whole World – At What Cost?

I have had occasion this past week to discuss money, kids and politics with several people whose counsel I value. Regular readers will know I am not shy about voicing my opinions.

From back last July, I inflicted this advice on the readership at large…

So I taught the boy baby and the girl baby what I know. I watched them grow up; day by day and year by year. Each year that passed saw mistakes made and lessons learned. I have told more than one struggling parent over the years that it is my true belief that the only reason we are here on this Earth is to prepare the next generation to take over the world — or just their small slice of it. Most of the time when I say this, I get an amazed look; a look of utter disbelief. Yep, it really is that simple. Kids crave your attention and your love and most of all your time. It has nothing to do with big houses in the suburbs, country club memberships, private schools or money to burn. There is absolutely no correlation between raising a great kid and living in the lap of luxury. On the contrary it is sometimes a huge detriment. Too many times I have seen wealthy parents substitute money or what money can buy for their time. Can’t make it to the birthday or the ball game because of work? Buy ‘em an iPod or an Xbox and it will be just dandy. Yeah right! They love their kids dearly but they are simply too wrapped up in their lives to give the children what they crave most. Attention, love and time. Everybody looks good at the starting line you know. It is how we run the race that matters.

So is this blog post about greed or raising kids or politics? A little of each, some of all I think. So bear with me while I set the stage.

My bro and I have raised 5 kids between us. They are all seemingly well adjusted and not a single one of them had the world given to them on a plate. The three of his all have college degrees that they have paid for themselves, both of mine are career military. It came up at lunch the other day that when we were growing up – I graduated high school in ’74, he in ’75 – there were just one or two obese kids in our classes. The few that were overweight had some medical problems that caused them to be fat. I am sure I do not have to explain the reasons why — our diets back then had nothing to do with fast food drive-thrus and we played outside every day. One TV in the house that got two channels. Ed Sullivan and Walt Disney. Simple life, entrenched values and a safe environment.

The BP/Transocean fiasco was driven by greed due to the well drilling running behind schedule. The meltdown in Mexico is due to greed. Those Mexican drug lords are not drug addicts — they want the money and they will go to war with the Mexican Government to get all the money.

Politicians these days could give a whit about the rank and file voter. All they want is your vote. They remind me a of a teenage paramour who will say anything to get to third base. Our Founding Fathers had no intent to populate Washington with career politicians. That is something I have seen come to pass in my lifetime. Washington and our elected representatives dance to the tune of the Lobbyists. And of course the Lobbyists are paid by corporations and conglomerates and multi-nationals who of course are in business to make as much money as they can.

Back in my former life as a Corporate Suit in the transportation business, one of our clients was Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream up in Vermont. These were good, responsible folks even though they were acquired by the Unilever conglomerate in 2000. Every July, when it was sweltering in Dallas and the wind blowing out of the South was so hot it felt like a blowtorch on your skin, I would put my secret plan in motion. I would get in touch with my ‘secret squirrel’ contact in Vermont — it might have even been Ben or Jerry. I will never divulge the name. We would find a truck loading at their plant headed to Dallas and surreptitiously add one pallet of pints to the load. 300 or more pints of ice cream of every single Ben and Jerry’s flavor. When the truck arrived, I would proclaim “Ice Cream Day” and set the pallet down at the main doors of the terminal. Every one in the place got ice cream. Mechanics, drivers, file clerks, dispatchers, the whole lot. Of course, business ground to a halt and I was invariably called in front of the Old Man to be duly chastised. I continued to do it year after year.  F ’em.  It is not all about the money.

Consider this if you will — from the Book of Matthew  Chapter 16 Verse 26:

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Now, just so I am clear. I am not a fan of organized religion.. too close in ferather and purpose to a lying politician and I still can’t fathom how those pedophile priests got away with the abuse as long as they did but the Bible does contain some profound verses.

Somewhere along the way, we sold our values and our dignity and our morality to the highest bidder. We expect the government to take care of us and with each election descend deeper into the depths of the abyss.  I maintain hope that the country will turn around and I do believe it will come from within.  The only contribution my bro and I could make to the turn around was to raise our kids old school fashion.   I hope they  can have an exponential influence on the world they are inheriting.

End Note: Four Chambered Heart by Tom Russell from the Love and fear album.  Follows the gist of this post closely.  A fine offering from old school Tom Russell.

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