When is it too much?
It hasn't been a good past few days for actor Nicolas Cage. From all accounts, he's in very severe financial difficulties. He's suing his former business manager, while at the same time being sued by a former significant other, Christina Fulton, who is seeking $13 million. And the former business manager has countersued Cage, saying the star ignored advice to curb his excessive spending. Now, he's been hit with a $36.7 million lawsuit by a group called Red Curb Investments, which says Cage, who just this year is facing IRS tax liens approaching $7 million, failed to repay more than $5 million in loans and also failed to give notice of his tax woes. From the sound of all this, it's beginning to look as if Cage, despite earning millions and millions of dollars, is headed either toward bankruptcy or sharing a prison cell with Wesley Snipes. Which finally brings me to my point: While people who make huge sums of money are certainly entitled to spend it as they wish, isn't it a little bit sickening to watch them wallow in excess? This is not jealousy on my part. I'm not a wealthy person, but I enjoy my "regular life." I have no interest in mansions, yachts, private planes and classic sports cars. But everywhere we look, the various media are slobbering over the rich and famous, basically celebrating their lives of excess. I saw an ad last night for a TV show that glorifies lavish weddings. We're talking six-figure, maybe seven-figure, affairs. It would be disturbing to me to even watch something like that. It brings to mind the infamous case of Dennis Kozlowski, who looted Tyco International and was convicted and sent to prison. At his trial, Kozlowski's spending habits were laid out for the world to see. The pinnacle of this, or the low point, perhaps, was Kozlowski's spending of $2.1 million for his wife's 40th birthday party on a Mediterranean island. When people are fortunate enough to become wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, shouldn't it be enough for them to life a very, very comfortable life - even sock away a few million to ensure the financial security of their children and grandchildren - and then do something more altruistic with their riches? Don't get me wrong. There are many people who do just that, but it seems as if there are a growing number who have embraced a culture of unbridled spending. It's not just "me, me, me." It's "look at me." It also has struck me this Christmas season more than any other - perhaps because of the terrible times so many people have gone through this year - that we are throwing money away (much to the delight of corporate America) on gifts that people don't need. I receive gifts that, while very nice, are not necessary for my daily life. And I'm sure I give people gifts that they could very well have done without. Well, I'm finally stepping off the Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa-whatever merry-go-round. Next year, I'll be telling the people with whom I have typically exchanged gifts that I want nothing from them and that I will be taking money that I usually would have spent on gifts and giving it to worthy charities. Small children will be exempt from my new policy. Is anyone else having the same thoughts?