Friday, December 16, 2011
People badly in need of a visit from three ghosts
So you're using something called "Trade Architect" by Scottrade to consolidate your portfolio, manage your investment tools, shift your electronic money around in a thousand different ways, and it's such a great experience, you feel the need to tell me that you're "loving it?"
Here's what I'm doing with my money- I'm spending it. Mostly on lunches for kids who lack their own pocket money. Chocolates for same. A bagel party two or three times a year. A week of summer vacation with my niece, including Orioles and Nationals games and two days at Hersheypark. Time permitting, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. This year, what looks like several cool museums in Mystic, Connecticut.
I guess maybe I'll die without much money in my "portfolio" (whatever the hell that is,) but before that happens I won't spend a minute staring at graphs on a screen trying to figure out which stocks or mutual funds or derivatives I should be putting my little pile on before the market spins the roulette wheel and informs me that Sorry, I had it on Black and it came up Red. I won't let Scottrade or "Chuck" Schwab or those f--ing eTrade babies convince me that there's some social good in obsessing over the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the Asian Markets (again, whatever the hell they are.)
My favorite two lines from the greatest movie ever made- Charles Foster Kane's business manager explains to a reporter that "there's no trick to making a lot of money....if all you want, is to make a lot of money" and the admonition Kane later receives from the soulless, Ebenezer Scrooge-type miser who ultimately puts him on a budget- "you never made an investment...you just USED money...to BUY things." I don't care about making money (Howard Jones told me years ago that the Future has a delightful tendency to take care of itself, somehow) and while I don't like debt, I also don't see why I should work so hard for the stuff if I'm not going to spend it making other people happy (which also makes me happy, but please don't tell anyone I said that. I don't want them to figure out how selfish my generosity is.)
Oh, by the way, Obsessive Money Trackers: When your years of chasing the almighty dollar are done, you are going to be Dead (just ask Steve Jobs, who made himself a billionaire on the backs of little Chinese girls and fought to prevent his workers from organizing themselves because he just couldn't bear the thought of parting with any more of his precious mountain of money.) Just as dead as any person who actually enjoyed his money by sharing it during his lifetime. Maybe your coffin will be a little bigger, but who is going to be able to tell once the dirt has been shoveled on top? Your Lexus will be in the hands of an unappreciative, equally status-obsessed relative, and the wealth you managed to accumulate in your mad pursuit of it will be the property of someone else, who will enjoy it without you. And if you are really doing this so that your slab of marble will be slightly larger than mine- don't bother, I'm going to be cremated. Without a penny in the bank, if I manage things just right.