The Slippery Slope Of Telling Rich People What They Should Do With Their Own Money

Dr Dre Iovine USC Gift.JPEG-0952f

I generally do not believe that you need to have experience doing something in order to offer an thorough critique of someone who is. You do not need to have experience as president in order to be critical of Obama’s policies, you do not need to be a working actor or director in order to write a comprehensive film review, and you do not need to have played a sport on its highest level in order to coach it there. There’s no hypocrisy or inauthenticity there. Sometimes it takes a person on the “sidelines” to better assess a situation because their potentially panoramic knowledge about a topic and their lack of personal engagement with it allows them to be both more insightful and more objective.

This belief does not extend to people telling other people—and by “other people” I mean “rich people”—what they should be doing with their money. Regardless of whether a person’s intent is noble—and regardless of whether I actually agree with them that a rich person could have spent their money in a “better” way—this type of criticism always rubs me the wrong way, especially if the rich person is actually doing a good thing. I was annoyed when Oprah received criticism for starting a school in South Africa instead of Chicago (although I saw their point), and I’ve grown just as annoyed with people insisting that Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine—but mainly Dr. Dre—should have found a more “worthy” place to gift $70 million (although I also see their point).

This annoyance stems from a simple place: the idea that wealthy people should be held to a higher moral/financial standard than the rest of us just because they’re wealthy. Lemme me put it this way. In the last couple of days I’ve heard and read several criticisms of Dr. Dre for giving his money to a school that’s already wealthy instead of one that actually needs the cash. And by “one that actually needs the cash” they mean “an HBCU.” (USC’s endowment is in the billions. I think Central State’s is $16.17) 

Yet, a few of these critiques have been made by people with a few letters after their names. I even read one penned by a president of a university. I do not know any of these people’s salaries, but knowing what I know about secondary education, it would not be a stretch to assume that they’re near or surpassing six figures.

I do not have a problem with this at all. People are going to make whatever the market demands, and the market demand for a medium to high level university employee is a comfortable income.

But, if you’re going to criticize a person for basically just doing a money-based good deed that wasn’t quite good enough for you, how are you able to justify receiving an income that far surpasses what you need in order to live? Shit, why not work for free? I’m sure you’ve made enough money where you can survive for a couple years with no income. Why haven’t you decided to devote all of your non-essential funds to whichever cause you’ve criticized some wealthy person for not contributing to?

This sounds silly, but once you start criticizing someone for decisions they make with their money, when does it stop? Why are you driving a Lexus when the 10 year old Honda you traded in as a down payment still worked fine? Why buy bottled water when you can drink it out of the tap? Why buy your girlfriend a birthday present? You know she has money, a condo, and a car already. Why give more to someone who already has?

You know, I actually agree that Dr. Dre could have spent his money a little better. I say this while typing on a Chromebook I just purchased, thoughts still kind of scattered after watching a riveting NBA playoff game on my 50 inch plasma screen TV. I did not need to purchase either of these things. When my old laptop broke, instead of buying a new one, I could have just got a library card. And, the 100 pound TV with the 17 inch screen sitting in one of my closets would have allowed me to watch the game just fine.

I’m not saying any of this to make people feel bad about how they spend their money. I just want people to think about how they’re spending their own money before calling someone out for how they’re spending theirs.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Ask A Very Smart Brotha: Should I Wait For Him To Get His Money Right?

Gallery

Recently, a few of my friends have come across the sentiment that men don’t want to even date seriously if they’re not in a certain place financially. Can you explain whether this is really a thing or an excuse to … Continue reading

How Much Is “Hotness” Worth To You?

When I was younger, my parents and I used to play a particularly morbid game called “How Much?” The game consisted of one of us coming up with a somewhat random and totally morally ambiguous task  — i.e.: “How much would it take for you to put a chicken bone in the collection plate at church?” — and try to figure out the least amount of money that it would take for one of us to do it.

Why was it morbid? Well, the game operates under the assumption that everybody has a price, regardless of how moral or righteous you claim to be. Maybe you wouldn’t run a block around your house butt-naked for free or throw a head of lettuce at a school crossing guard for a 20, but what if someone offered you $1,000? No? How about $50,000? Exactly.

Adding to the morbidity quotient was the fact that this game was usually played while on the way to one of my Pittsburgh Diocese grade school football games. It was quite difficult looking Father Joesph in the eye 15 minutes after admitting to my parents that I’d consider hitting him with a milk-filled water balloon for $3,700.

Anyway, I was reminded of this game while talking to a friend yesterday afternoon. He mentioned that he came across a pretty attractive woman while scrolling through the “People You May Know” sidebar on his Facebook page, and he remembered that his very first thought when seeing her was “Damn. She must have a really easy life.”

I ignored the man code violation (Seriously? You see a hot chick and your first thought is “Damn, she probably never has to sweat”???), and we started a conversation about whether unattractive people should have affirmative action. I assumed that he was bringing this topic up because he’d read my piece about, um, whether “ugly” people should have affirmative action, but I soon found out that he hadn’t — an awkward moment reminding me that I’m not quite as big of a deal as I like to think I am.

Anyway, my ego recovered in time to debate whether we both believed that the more attractive a person is, the better their lives tend to be (we do), if attractive women lead the “easiest” lives (they do), and if there’s an actual tangible price on beauty (there is) — a discussion leading to an inevitable question:

“Since there are obvious long-term social, emotional, financial, and even physiological benefits to being attractive, would you pay to be more attractive?”  

Basically, if you were somehow given the ability to pay money to be 25% cuter or four inches taller or four inches longer or to reshape the head you’ve always been self-conscious about or possess that hour glass frame you’ve always coveted, would you do it?

And, if so, how much would this service be worth to you?

Now, I realize that many of you will scoff at those questions, and that’s understandable. You’re happy with the hand God gave you and you’d do nothing to change it, you love yourself totally, flaws and all, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

If you feel that way, I’ll choose to believe you, and I’ll also choose to believe you’re not one of the hundreds of millions of people in this country who spend billions of dollars a year on artificial aesthetic enhancements — shoes with lifts, makeup, heels, weave, foobs, etc.

If you’re not one of those people, I’m curious: Knowing that a 15% bump in attractiveness might also give you a 15% bump in happiness and success, would you make that investment? If so, how much would you be willing to spend? I mean, if the difference between being a 5 and an 8.5 might be $800,000 in lifetime earnings, that service has to be worth at least $100,000, right?

—The Champ

***An extended version of “Herman Cain: Uncle Ruckus or the Baddest Motherf***er Alive?” has been published at The Good Men Project this week. Check it out of you get a chance***

getting the gift: life’s five best unexpected rewards

rewards

while we all know that life is like a box of chocolates, everyone has a moment or two when it seems like that chocolate box is filled with catsh*t, especially in the TET (ms. smart, 2008). to deal with our trials and tribulations, life has a way of giving us unexpected rewardssimple daily smiles that can easily turn a melancholy day to mediocre, and a mediocre day to magnificent.

as another example of vsb.com’s crime-fighting commitments, here are five of the champ’s favorite.

1. free food

while pearly gates, endless bliss, and easy white women sound plenty enticing, my idea of heaven is an endless loop of a “hey, everybody; don’t worry about lunch. i ordered some pizza, wings, and beer” message from the boss during a staff meeting on one of those end of the month thursdays when your checking account is asking “if i cut the pink off the two week old mystery pasta in the breakroom fridge, i wont get sick, right?“.

(btw, by “the boss” i totally meant “stacey dash”. this is heaven, right?)

2. finding money

whether its on the ground, in your coat pocket, or a forgotten about revenue stream from the t-shirts you sell on your website, there aren’t many things better than finding unexpected money in an unexpected place.

sh*t, just last week i cheesed for an hour after finding a dollar in the trunk of my truck and cried for another hour after getting rebuffed at the wendy’s drive thru for being six cents short for a junior bacon cheeseburger

3. a compliment from a stranger

after getting home after a particularly rough day at work a couple months ago, i walked a couple blocks to the walnut street shopping district to window shop and clear my head when a somewhat milfy middle aged woman complimented me, saying that my “glasses were nice”. who cares that she may have been homeless and that there’s a good chance she actually said “the masses have lice!”, it made me happy, and that’s all that really counts.

4. randomly seeing an extremely physically attractive person

even those in purgatory serious committed relationships can still appreciate and acknowledge the unexpected potential mood boost of accidentally seeing a dime in line at pepboys or behind the counter at popeyes. you don’t have to own the land to appreciate the view.

5. finding something on the sales rack that actually fits

because of my waist (36), shirt (l or xl), and shoe (12) sizes, finding something on sale that actually fits me is harder than roman polanski watching degrassi high. seriously, its like deals at men’s clothing stores are only for midgets and men built like dejuan blair. i’m usually so surprised to find something that fits that i assume there’s something wrong with it, a phenomenon which usually ends with me just staring at a pair of jeans for fifteen minutes like it’s actually going to say “yeah, n*gga; you don’t wanna buy me. my right leg is longer than my left and my crotch area itches worse than courtney love. leave my skinny ass on the rack. wait…why the hell is your black ass in h&m anyway??

thats it for now. people of vsb.com, did i miss anything, and when was the last time you got one of life’s unexpected rewards?

the carpet is yours and sh*t

—the champ

link of the week: from jobless to topless

“its a recession”

jokingly used nowadays as a witty response to every question, this phrase can now be used as a justification for learning how to booty clap to the chorus of “say you will”.

“The tough job market is prompting a growing number of women across the country to dance in strip clubs, appear in adult movies or pose for magazines like Hustler.

Employers across the adult entertainment industry say they’re seeing an influx of applications from women who, like Brown, are attracted by the promise of flexible schedules and fast cash. Many have college degrees and held white-collar jobs until the economy soured.”

obviously, this is nothing new under the sun. humans have been willing to buy and sell sex since adam was rockin a bald fade. thing is, the sex industry has always been perceived as an option for the optionless, a skill less job for a hopeless woman.

today?

well….its a recession. apparently, the “p” in “p-popping” now stands for phd.

people of vsb:

personally, how would you describe your view of people with sexually themed occupations? reluctant admiration? disdain? pity? aggressive indifference? does your judgment depend on situation and circumstance?

would you consider “selling” yourself if you felt you didnt have any other attractive options?

could you date someone who’s been in or who’s currently in “the life”?

don’t be scurred and sh*t. we’re all family here.

****admin note****

on april 24th, the champ is hosting a happy hour at ava bar & lounge in pittsburgh for all vsb-ers in the tri-state area. come if you want to be awed by the champ’s black leather and voiceofreason’s pillow twinset.

email us at contact@verysmartbrothas.com, or join the verysmartbrothas.com facebook fan page and rsvp if you’re interested in attending. the champ can’t promise any drink specials right now, but he will personally buy liquor for anyone rocking vsb paraphernalia, like veteran vsb-er goodeness…

goody

…seen here contemplating life, spoons, and greyhound stations.

also, vsb.com has a twitter account.…as does panama….and the champ. if anyone can successfully convince either of them why they should even bother tweeting, theres a free vsb tee in it for you.

****end of admin note****

—the champ