Saturday, 15 January 2011

Showing his true colours

VAT increases. Fuel costs on the up. Bankruptcies and defaulted mortgages everywhere. This recession is really pinching, and it has more than an inch in its icy cold grip.

And it doesn't seem to matter what your socio-economic status is - everyone's feeling the pain. Perhaps this is what the world needs in order to start redressing the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.

With that in mind, I propose that we have a whip-round for those less fortunate than ourselves. Because no matter how bad we think we've got it, someone else is in a much sorrier state.

I'm going to register with, so that people can pledge some money to help out Ted Turner, who seems to have fallen on the hardest of times. Despite a net worth of $1.9bn, Ted is now "at the edge of poverty". And since there are still classic black and white movies in desperate need of a garish splash of inappropriate colorisation, Ted needs our support.

Ted's packed an awful lot into his 72 years, including three marriages, coming up the superstation cable TV concept, and creating legendary '80s cartoon Captain Planet and the Planeteers. He also owns the world's largest bison herd, and donated $1bn to the United Nations.

Unfortunately though, all of that abundant spending has come back to haunt him, and he's now shuffling his executive loafers towards the poorhouse. Speaking on last Wednesday's edition of Morning Joe, the media mogul announced to the world that his generosity has cost him dearly. Well, you didn't think Jane Fonda got her face stretched at WalMart, did you?

Tugging at the nation's heartstrings, the selfless silver one told the show's hosts "I'm one of the few examples of a very wealthy person that's given himself to the edge of poverty." He even managed a smile beneath his albino caterpillar moustache.

Thankfully, he's not had to start stockpiling the cardboard boxes just yet, but he is down to his last few millions. Ever the pragmatist, he's mostly concerned with the legacy he leaves behind: "I don't want to leave my family with an unpaid funeral bill. I'm trying to save a little bit of money to at least cover my expenses."

Maybe he just needs to think about a plywood coffin with a teak finish. Or maybe he could ask Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Michael Eisner to each bring a pie to the wake, in order to spread the costs. Vol au vents and crustless sandwiches don't come cheap, after all.

Glibness aside, it's disappointing that someone who has genuinely given so much to other people throughout his life, could be so clueless about what constitutes genuine poverty. It would be a shame if the legacy he leaves behind is not the lives that he managed to impact, but the noses he put out of joint with a couple of throwaway remarks about subjective destitution. I know he was never a fan of black and white, but those are the facts.

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