How much money is enough?

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Mike Wootton

Mike Wootton

Rolls Royce, similar to Lamborghini I guess, have high hopes for the growth of their business in the Philippines. Well you don’t need to sell too many Rolls Royces or Lamborghinis or even Lexus LFAs (at P34.8 million a go) to make a decent return, so perhaps they will actually meet whatever their planned targets may be.

We all know that there is enough money around here for some people to afford luxury items and if any were not aware of such riches, a glimpse around the shops at the casino at Resorts World, in Greenbelt IV and V, and near the Shangri-La in Makati City would soon convince them.

But people who sell outrageously priced luxury goods don’t really care where the money comes from [like banks], and no doubt the buyers or depositors can make a good case if asked as to the source of their funds. To envision the Manila Rolls Royce dealership demanding proof that the money being used to buy its product has been gained honestly is too much to imagine.

I remember watching and being very well entertained by some Hong Kong comedy films in one of which the female star wins the lottery, then when she sees her friends they have a day out to the bank where her winnings, a great mountain of cash are rolled out on a trolley so that she and her friends can have a look at it and touch it before it is the rolled back by the bank staff into the vault. There is a certain old Chinese-ness in this of course, it’s “the savings.”


With the growth of Asian economies, people, well some people, like to flaunt their wealth. It is seen as a demonstration of success; to have a helicopter or two, a yacht, a few Rolls Royces and Lamborghinis, a string of expensive mistresses, to drink expensive brandy, and to fly around all over the place first class with expensive luggage is believed to garner admiration from the less fortunate in society. But then, what else would you do with the money other than keep it in the bank and go and visit it occasionally with your friends, like the Hong Kong lady who won the lottery?

Question is how much money do people need? It came as no surprise that there does not appear to be a Rolls Royce distributor in Norway—nobody could afford one and if they did, then there would be a lot of investigation as to where the money had come from to buy such an expensive car. A big book is available there which lists down how much everybody earns—easy to check your neighbor’s income and see whether or not he or she really could afford the new dining table that had just been delivered! That such a reference should be available in Asian countries must be a nightmare prospect to those who are “rich.”

Jose Mujica is a socialist politician and the President of Uruguay. His salary is about P500,000 per month and he donates 90 percent of this to charities to benefit poor people, and to help small entrepreneurs. So long as he has enough left for himself to get by at a lifestyle that he is satisfied with, he will have a clear conscience from having done what is by his view, as well as many other people’s, the right thing.

Nobody other than perhaps those who renounce all worldly possessions on religious grounds would choose to live in grinding poverty, but for my part I find that ostentatious displays of vast personal wealth and associated greed—“an excessive desire to possess more than one needs or deserves, particularly in terms of money” just makes me ask myself “I wonder where that money came from?”

Greed is not a nice emotion, in the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas; “Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.” To think that great manifestations of greed is something that engenders admiration and respect is simply (very) wrong thinking; it deprives others of opportunity and basic necessities. An obsession with the need to acquire overtly expensive and rare material possessions, or just power for that matter in order to impress others rather than just gaining a well-earned high degree of personal comfort and convenience, is surely a sad condition and could even be construed as a type of theft.

So to change the mindset from simple, awed admiration of ostentatious displays of wealth to “I wonder where that money came from” may make eventually for a more egalitarian society . . . perhaps.

Mike can be contacted at mawootton@gmail.com

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4 Comments

  1. I have driven my Lancer for well over 20 years, It was a very nice and reliable car which has never seen a mechanics except when I hit a Kangaroo back in 2004 on the way back to Perth from Brisbane. It still looks as good as new….my sisters always telling me to trade it for a new one….as everyone here changed cars almost every 3 or 4 years. So last April I finally succumb to temptation….I trade it for a Merc Kompressor! hahaha …. now I have 6 demerit points on my license from multanova cameras from overspeeding. hayyyy…. 6 more to go And I will lose my license…. Yesterday I bought a radar detector…..Its time for a serious fun with this with this car. …….I’m planning for a
    Boxster Porsche next year as my token gift to myself when I finished my Masters at
    Uni of WA. Yeah – buying or driving expensive cars….. for me just means someone can afford it ….. and I guess its simply means success in someone life’s journey.

  2. There is an old cliche I often keep on hearing especially during the foul controversies of the times, ” Money can’t buy all things.” I hope that this would not be a squabble as each person continues to seek the ‘satisfaction of their satisfaction’. The glitter of those gems, cars , houses or even gadgets worth a lifetime’s worth of a median class worker obscures the sanity of man’s desires. Instead of such privilege to be used in helping our own brothers and sisters who are in need, they are even used to oppress or control others. A sight so heart breaking. As we struggle to win this fight against corruption, indeed we can actually take measures investigating where those money really come from. Is it from a legitimate cause? If not, then justice should be served.