The Pledge

Tis the season to think about money. With the fiscal cliff and the holiday shopping ads competing for attention, I keep asking myself “How much money is enough?” It seems most people wish they had “just a little bit more money” irrespective of wants or needs. Is that the threshold I wonder, being able to buy or do anything you want no matter the cost? Warren Buffett can do that and he eats at McDonalds everyday.

If you are a member of the 1% what do you do with all that money? Buy more houses? Go more places? Give it away through charitable contributions? If you have that tremendous level of wealth, why shelter and protect it from taxes so you can have more? It really doesn’t make sense to me. Much of debate around taxes baffles me but nothing more than Grover Norquist and The Pledge.

Norquist is a lobbyist who, anointed by Newt Gingrich back in the 90’s, has helped orchestrate the GOP march to crazy town with his Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Year after year Republican politicians signed it promising to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.” No rational discussion, no compromise, just no. Sound like the 111th and 112th Congress to anyone else?

I am heartened to see that fewer GOP lawmakers have signed his pledge this year as we face the fiscal cliff. If they’d found their spines last year the Super Committee might have worked. But still, the stranglehold of conservative “values”, “smaller government” and “bigger military” might be loosen a bit. In return, Norquist will attack republicans who break his pledge as he protects the “special interests” of the individuals and corporations who fund his lobbying. What a system.

I still haven’t figured out the magic number is – how much money would make me feel like I didn’t have worry about money, I could do what I want, that I’m rich. I can only conceptualize it as chunks at the moment. Things like – a new car every 8 years or so, my daughters college education, travel vacations, upgrades to our house (my kitchen is a makeover shows wet dream.) Nothing extravagant but hard to quantify because I suspect that once the kitchen is fixed, I’d want a soaking tub in the attic, then replacement windows, and new landscaping…

So the number would keep changing.

Maybe I should just buy a Powerball ticket. And if I win the $360 million jackpot I wouldn’t begrudge the feds their $90 million, or the state their $21, because there would still be an insane amount of money left. Is $250 million (~Romney’s net worth) my magic number? Lets find out.

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