September 13, 2015

Simple Life - Simple Problems


Occasionally I am reminded of how living the simple life protects a person from the complicated problems of a moneyed existence. Problems tend to be magnified along with bank accounts, although you will rarely hear anyone admit that.

There are ample examples warning about how mounds of money can often bring more misery and complications rather than a problem-free life. Such is the precautionary tale of Terrance Watanabe, whose story took place in Vegas, but was too big to stay there.

Mr. Watanabe grew up in a wealthy family in the US. His father started a novelty supply business in 1932 that grew to be a multi-million dollar enterprise. When the father retired in 1977, his son Terrance took over. In 2000 he sold the family business for a large, undisclosed sum, and began a life as a philanthropist.

What the well-meaning Watanabe became instead was an addict, with booze and gambling being his obsessions. It turned out to be a dangerous combination, and over the course of a single year, the man gambled away an estimated $300 million dollar family fortune.

It gets worse.

During the gambling spree, the casino said, Watanabe wrote and cashed in about $20 million dollars worth of bad cheques. They took him to court to recoup the losses. He faced up to 16 years in prison.

During the proceedings it was discovered that the casino was very familiar with Watanabe, and had a picture of him posted behind the scenes so that workers could identify him and make sure that they "treated him well".

Casino employees, in order to pry more cash out of the problem gambler, provided Watanabe with luxurious courtesy suites, and plied him with drugs and alcohol. Soon, the philanthropist had no money for cab fare, let alone cash to give away to worthy causes.

The whole mess ended up in court with everyone suing everyone else. In the end charges were dropped against the failed gambler, and the casino was fined for taking gross advantage of him.

There is a reason the saying isn't, "Money is the root of all happiness".

If all that money doesn't make you happier, or reduce your stress levels, what is the use of having it? It is counterproductive if all it does is amplify your problems, as it does for so many, including Mr. Watanabe.

I'm betting on the simple life, and the simple problems that go along with it. Chances are good you will come out ahead.

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