How hard can it be getting back on your feet with $1.8 billion

Posted: January 26, 2012 in General Blogging, Indulgent Commentary
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Recently I saw commercial advertising Oprah’s show Master Class where Ted Turner tells stories of how his principles of honor, integrity and hard work have shaped his achievements.  The show is scheduled for January 29th.  In this advertisement a couple of the quotes from Turner caught my attention, including his statement, “You really want to be careful when you’re dealing with billions and billions of dollars.”  Later in the commercial it quotes him as saying, I lost my job and was divorced from Jane Fonda.  “I just gritted my teeth and said I’m going to come out of this,” which is his reference to his empire that had crumbled, which is most likely the biggest failure in business history.

Ted Turner is known as an American media mogul and philanthropist.  He was the founder of the cable news network CNN, which was the first dedicated 24 hour news channel.   He was the largest private landowner in the United States until John C. Malone surpassed him in 2011.  Turner has also been known to say some controversial things which has caused a stir around him, such as he advocated for American to only have two children, which sounds a little bit like the communist country China.  He also joked about banning men from public office: “Men should be barred from public office for 100 years in every part of the world… The men have had millions of years where we’ve been running things. We’ve screwed it up hopelessly. Let’s give it to the women.”  Now thinking about it, this may not be such a bad idea.  Turner’s empire continued to grow until things turned bad for Time Warner.  At the time Turner owned the majority of the shares of Time Warner’s stocks and it is rumored that he lost $7 billion when the stocks crashed.

The commercial is praising Turner’s come back and his contributions to various charities.  It was also said that he lost 80% of his assets in the Time Warner debacle.  This started me thinking about why Oprah and others were applauding his accomplishments. I don’t find his accomplishments that amazing.  First of all, he lost $7 billion dollars, which is nothing to be proud about.  So, is he being honored for his accomplishment of landing back on his feet?  Probably so.  But then I thought, is that really an accomplishment.  He said he had lost a job.  He was Ted Turner!  How hard was it going to be for him to get a new job.  He was close to the richest people of the world.  He had access to pretty much anyone he wanted.

Instead, I find the average American much more amazing because they don’t have access to the money, the people and the opportunities that Ted Turner has. Turner says, You really want to be careful when you’re dealing with billions and billions of dollars.” Well how would you like to deal with only $42,000, which is the average yearly salary in America.  It is those people who really have a talent for using their money appropriately and surviving in this country.  What if he was laid off like many of us America’s?  A real marvel is trying to live on $363 a week, which is the most amount of money that one can get from unemployment.  That is a real accomplishment. How would he like to have to make decision like whether to buy groceries or to pay the utility bill?  He said he lost 80% of his wealth.  That still left him with almost $1.8 billion dollar!.  I wish I had an opportunity to suffer with only $1.8 billion dollars.  A loss 80% of $7  billion is nothing compared to losing 80% of $42,000.

I was just thinking.  Sometimes you have to put things in perspective and come down to reality with the rest of us.

I don’t mean to totally slam Ted Turner or Oprah Winfrey.  In fact Turner’s 11 rules to live by are pretty good:

1. I promise to care for planet earth and all living things thereon, especially my fellow human beings
2. I promise to treat all persons everywhere with dignity, respect and friendliness
3. I promise to have no more than one or two children
4. I promise to use my best efforts to help save what is left of our natural world in its undisturbed state and to restore degraded areas
5. I promise to use as little of our non-renewable resources as possible
6. I promise to minimize my use of toxic chemicals, pesticides and other poisons and to encourage others to do the same
7. I promise to contribute to those less fortunate, to help them become self-sufficient and enjoy the benefits of a decent life including clean air, and water, adequate food, health care, housing, education and individual rights
8. I reject the use of force, in particular military force, and I support United Nations arbitration of international disputes
9. I support doing everything we can to reduce the dangers from nuclear biological or chemical weapons and ultimately the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction
10. I support the United Nations and its efforts to improve the conditions of the planet

11. I support clean renewable energy and a rapid move to eliminate carbon emissions


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