HIGHTOWER: The Tragedy of "Sudden Wealth Syndrome"
You've seen the ads pleading for your donations to help save children who live in poverty; ads featuring sad-eyed, malnourished waifs that just tug at your heart. Well, if you really want your heart strings plucked, wait 'til you hear about the tribulations of little Jeffrey, Lisa, and Alexa. Their problem is: They're rich.Not just rich, but Silicon Valley rich -- which means gigantic homes, nannies and gardeners, private schools and private jets, and even their own stock portfolios to manage.So, what's their problem? The New York Times reports that Jeffrey, Lisa, Alexa, and other children of the Silicon Valley super-rich suffer from S.W.S. -- "Sudden Wealth Syndrome." It seems that such kids have never known anything but privilege, so they have a rather skewed view of the world. For example, the Times notes that these youngsters look at the middle class as poverty, and they view going to Hawaii only once a year for vacation as the bottom rung.In working class neighborhoods, a kid might say "My daddy can beat up your daddy," but in the neighborhoods of "Sudden Wealth Syndrome" the brag is "My daddy can buy your daddy."The good news is that help is available to S.W.S. sufferers. Newsletters, websites, psychiatrists, 12-step programs, and other assistance can be found to help these families cope with the psychic burden of being rich. Even Merrill Lynch, the Wall Street giant, has rushed to the aid of these suffering families, offering a "financial parenting" program that includes guidance on how to give children a sense of perspective about their privileged life. For example, what's a parent to do when asked: "Daddy, why are we flying a private plane?" Merrill Lynch instructs that the proper response is: "We've had a little luck, but we've worked hard for it."This is Jim Hightower saying ... Oh, good -- it's the "We deserve it" response. Now that's really teaching values to the rich little nippers.