This column was going to be about the pressing needs of food banks during the summer months. But that’ll have to wait until the next column.
Why? Because I heard about a family that knows the true meaning of suffering, and the bitter struggle that accompanies the daily fight to survive.
I had no idea about Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Hillary Clinton told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer recently. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”
Wow. Times are tough.
But I’m having trouble picturing Bill and Hillary, huddled around their last can of Sterno, wrapped in soiled blankets, furtively eating boxed macaroni and cheese while they’re plotting their next life choice.
See, all this time I thought the term “no money” meant that you – you know – had no money.
The Clintons’ version of “no money” is reporting an income of more than $357,000 on their joint 2000 income tax return.
HOW ON EARTH DID THEY GET their daughter, Chelsea, through Stanford University on the mere pension of a U.S. president and the salary of a U.S. senator? And while shopping around for two houses? And with nothing more on the horizon than Hillary’s $8 million advance on a book deal?
True, they reported more than $10 million in debt, but that evaporated inside of four years because the Clintons started cashing in on lucrative speaking engagements. From then to now, those speaking deals have brought in more than $100 million.
And good for them. I mean it. But please, don’t toss around phrases such as “dead broke” as if you’ve known genuine poverty.
Don’t make your financial uncertainties – lasting way less than a year – sound anything close to the real, honest, sweat-of-the-brow struggles of two working parents trying to pay off their 30-year mortgage and car loans and monthly utilities and their kids’ orthodontic work and any other sudden expenses under the sun that can wipe out an average American’s savings in the blink of an eye.
IT’S HARD TO WRITE SOMETHING like this and not sound like I’m puckering on sour grapes. I’m not, honestly. My family doesn’t starve. My roof doesn’t leak. However, I tend to repel monetary wealth like a trenchcoat repels rain, and I have come to terms with that.
But it never fails to stick in my craw when I hear well-to-do people exaggerating complaints about what they have, in a world in which so many have so little.
WATERisLIFE is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing safe water, proper sanitation and correct hygiene to squalid communities worldwide.
In 2012 it unveiled a TV public service announcement that showed impoverished Third World villagers reciting some of the First World complaints that tumble out of our mouths.
Imagine a boy sitting in a ruined cinderblock hovel echoing the complaint of “when I have to write my maid a check, but I forget her last name.”
Picture a girl mimicking the whine “when I leave my clothes in the washer so long they start to smell,” and in the background are a half-dozen fellow villagers cleaning their clothes by beating them on rocks beside a feeble stream.
THE CLINTONS, BEYOND ANY DOUBT, are multimillionaires. They join more than 7 million Americans who are millionaires, according to the Boston Consulting Group’s Global Wealth Report, released Tuesday.
What gift do you get for the former first lady who has everything?
Here’s something Mrs. Clinton needs more of: perspective.
Perspective is one thing you can’t buy at any price. You can give it to someone, but it’s best when you barter for it on your own.
Discernment is a fair trade. You might even receive enlightenment as a bonus.
That’s infinitely more valuable than any advance you could get on a book deal.