Suffer from affluenza? Not unless you happen to be...

DO YOU

July 22, 1995

DO YOU suffer from affluenza? Not unless you happen to be very, very rich, which eliminates about 98 percent of the populace.

But let's fantasize. Let's figure you are worth a few tens of millions or a few hundred millions. How do you avoid having this vast hoard of wealth spoil your children?

You think this isn't a problem? Henry Stein, a San Francisco (where else?) psychiatrist, tells Forbes magazine "just as there are ramifications of poverty that can be devastating, so there are ramifications of affluence. It's becoming epidemic."

So what to do as a filthy rich parent? Forbes says it's a good idea to put your children on a regular allowance (no dribs and drabs) commensurate with their peers, to insist on the performance of household chores without pay (even if the place is overrun with scullery maids), to get the kids tough blue-collar summer jobs at age 16 (presumably arranged through one of your peers) and to make them pay for the insurance on any car you buy them.

Oh, such problems. It almost makes a body happy to be poor.

Some parents in the affluenza class try to over-compensate by making their kids pay for their own cavities, or insist on terms of employment or education rather than endearment. The result? Estrangement between generations, even in some cases after the grave. Parents who write incentive trusts (you have to earn so much to get so much) sometimes turn an inducement into a horse-collar. More estrangement.

What is David Rockefeller Jr.'s remedy? "The most important thing we can do is to help give our children a sense of confidence in who they are, their own abilities," he told Forbes.

But hey, doesn't that apply to all families, even those not in the baleful grip of affluenza?

* * *

ONE MEMORY of Hollywood "Sweater Girl" Lana Turner, who died June 29 at age 75.

Several years ago, Baltimore's Charles Theater showed "The Postman Always Rings Twice," the 1946 film noir classic generally judged to contain Turner's best work as an actress.

Early in the movie, there is a scene in which the drifter, played by John Garfield, turns toward the door of his rented room.

The camera follows Garfield's line of vision and finally rests on the sight of sultry Lana Turner in the doorway -- posed seductively in an outfit that did full justice to her star-making attributes.

That evening at the Charles, as the image burned silently on the screen for a few seconds and the theater crowd sat hushed, a male voice burst out with a respectful "Wow!"

The entire audience at the Charles broke into laughter at this impromptu review.

After all, what else was there to say about Lana Turner, at that precise moment, in that film, than "Wow!"?

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