Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Get Rich Quick - a Runaway Dream

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Get Rich Quick - a Runaway Dream

Article excerpt

On the cover of the current New Yorker, three casually dressed men are gathered around a tree, bushel baskets in hand and megawatt smiles on their faces. Who can blame them? For this isn't just any tree. It's the rarest of botanical species, a money tree. Dollar bills in varying denominations float from its branches and cover the ground, just waiting to be scooped up and spent or invested.

The scene serves as a fanciful lead-in to a special edition of the magazine called the Money Issue. Articles, cartoons, and ads all revolve around the timeliest of subjects: the almighty dollar. What a perfect way to capture the current all-money-all-the-time mood of 21st-century America.

One article profiles John Falcon, a struggling performance artist who won $45 million in the New York State lottery. After realizing he held the winning Lotto ticket, Mr. Falcon left his office at Harcourt Brace publishers, where he worked as a software formatter, never to return. When his boss called a week or two later to ask if he would come in briefly because she was short-staffed, he refused. "Are you crazy?" he asked indignantly. "I'm never getting up that early again!"

So much for generosity of spirit.

Elsewhere, the magazine's film critic, David Denby, recounts his efforts to become a Wall Street millionaire in a single year. "I have decided that I want - I need - to make a million dollars in the stock market this year," he writes, conceding that "greed becomes a way of life."

As if to encourage people like Mr. Denby, an investment-firm ad in the same issue carries the headline, "The first half-million is the hardest." It explains that investors with $500,000 can qualify for "customized asset management," a perk not available to the less well heeled. In similar vein, an ad for E*TRADE says, "Trying to make money is only half the fun. No ... that's pretty much it."

Ah, the joys of life in a windfall society, where greed lives and the unwritten imperative is: You're a success only if you go to bed richer than when you woke up. …

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