If I Were a Rich Man

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February 04, 2016 at 7:27 AM

I like gambling; used to play in a regular poker game. But I prefer fair odds, so I’m not a fan of playing against the house. I did it only once, when I was 17: dropped 85c worth of nickels into a slot machine in Reno. That was it, until recently. I was cashing in some bottles at the supermarket and when I took my receipt to the service counter, there was the lottery ticket machine. I’d been reading about the 1.4 billion dollar prize, and on a lark threw in enough change to add up to a $2 ticket.

Like so many, I found myself envisioning my new life as a billionaire. Over the next couple of days I planned it all out.

First there was the personal stuff. My 2000 Chevy Metro can be replaced with a more reliable car, maybe a Honda Fit. Pay off the mortgage. Pay off another couple of (family) mortgages as well. The local biodiesel plant is looking for a final small loan to start operation. Donations to my children’s school, and to the shul we go to. I know a couple of single mothers who could use some help. And a family member’s business.

How to become rich without messing up the kids? Probably give them each $100 to blow, as a celebration, and then go back to our normal life, so they don’t get spoiled. Maybe start a charitable foundation and have the kids participate in deciding where the donations will go.

Then the nonprofit org, Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute, that I founded and continue to run. Give the staff raises. With serious money we can get a lot more research done, and establish intensive trauma therapy as a standard therapy format that much sooner. Also fund lots of training fellowships to build up the expertise in our brand of trauma-informed therapy. I’ll still do some therapy and some training, continue mentoring our trainers... but we’ll have a managing director so I won’t have to run the show anymore.

And then what? I’m extremely concerned about the environment, as well as civil rights, but I found my focus going to abuse/violence prevention. Because 58,000 children per year are court-ordered to unsupervised time with known abusers. Because non-offending parents routinely lose custody to child abusers. Because most rapes are not even reported, and only 3% of rapists serve time. Because women and children are being murdered every day by their fathers, husbands, boyfriends, and exes. And perhaps because I so often work with people whose exposure to abuse and violence could have, and should have, been prevented.

We know a lot about how to prevent abuse and violence, so I have some good ideas about where to contribute. A million dollars each to Center for Judicial Excellence, Child Justice, and Stop Abuse Campaign. And convene a team of attorneys to identify promising legal strategies to develop case law to protect victims of violence and abuse, and then fund the test cases.

It came as a bit of a shock to discover that the money didn’t come through! I didn’t win the jackpot, didn’t win one of the million dollar prizes, or even a four dollar prize. Nothing. Even so, the two bucks I put down was money well spent. It afforded an opportunity to consider my priorities and what I can do even without the extra billion. We’re still getting the research done. We're working on raising funds for a managing director position. I can still involve my children in philanthropy, even if the donations are $10 instead of $10K. The new car, though, will have to wait.



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Posted by Robin Shapiro on
I know where this came from!
I had the same idea about the Powerball, and started accruing websites, including from you, about stopping sexual abuse. Thanks for carrying it on!
Posted by Ricky Greenwald on
:^)

Usually I quote the Wizard of Oz, but Fiddler will do in a pinch.

I'm sure a lot of people thought of all the good we would do. It would be great if some of the actual winners will follow through!
Posted by Tom Cloyd on
A fun read, and this is a fun fantasy. Not the same as the "6 months to live" exercise, but both are so clarifying of one's priorities. Well, coming back to our present reality, we will do what we can. That's is challenge enough, for sure.
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