January 2, 2009

Not A Balance Sheet

From Ben Stein in last Sunday's New York Times:

We are more than our investments. We are more than the year-to-year or day-by-day changes in our net worth. We are what we do for charity. We are how we treat our family and friends. We are how we treat our dogs and cats. We are what we do for our community and our nation. If you had $100 million or $100,000 a year ago and now you have a lot less, you are still the same person. You are not a balance sheet, at least not one denominated in money, as was explained to me recently.

Losing and making money are not moral issues so long as you are being honest. You may have a lot less money as this year ends than you did two years ago. But you are just as good or bad a person as you were then. It is a myth that money determines who you are, and if you have gotten over that myth by now, then 2008 will have been a very good year.
Stein's complete article was about his brief brush with Bernie Madoff's scheme, but he brilliantly manages to assure his readers that we are more than our dollars. And more than what we are able to do with them.

Happy New Year!

"I politely passed and went on my way, finding my own inventive ways to lose money on a colossal scale during these last 15 months."
Ben Stein
(on passing on the opportunity to invest with Madoff)

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