More Jackson County Opinions...

FEBRUARY 26, 2003


Column
By:Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
February 26, 2003

‘The Gospel of Wealth’
Zell and Emily Kravinsky have millions in the bank, yet you’d never know it. The family drives an old Toyota and wears clothes from thrift stores.
It all started in 1991 after Zell married Emily, a psychiatrist. Zell, a professor of Renaissance literature and rhetoric, began buying up run down property near the school and then reselling it to the university. He amassed $15 million in 11 years and has long since retired from teaching. But Zell and Emily resolved to live as they always had — on $50,000 a year — so they could give every penny of their fortune away.
Last summer the Kravinskys gave $6.2 million to the Centers for Disease Control, the largest gift from individual donors ever. The money will fund research into diseases that afflict the poor. The head of the CDC Foundation, Charles Stokes, admits confusion over the Kravinskys’ generosity. “It’s counterintuitive,” he says, “that at a young age and with four kids, they’re giving their wealth away.”
Then in the fall, the Kravinskys gave a $3 million building they owned to a school for emotionally disturbed kids in Philadelphia. And they plan to give $5 million or so to Ohio State University and the CDC for a joint health project.
Zell says he’s motivated by a desire to die without regrets. His family goes without cable, but he says the kids don’t mind the lack of luxuries. Zell’s eleven-year-old son Josh once told him he didn’t need to be rich if it saves another child’s life.
And Kravinsky is not done giving. He plans to keep on giving until he hasn’t a penny left and then he says he’ll make more and give that away, too.
At 16, Julius Silver received a scholarship to New York University worth a $100 loan and $77.50 a year. He repaid them plus interest last year when he died at age 101, giving the college $150 million. Silver said his scholarship opened the doors of success for him so he wanted to do the same for many others.
Silver was the son of poor immigrants from Eastern Europe who didn’t learn to speak English until he was 5. He grew up in Brooklyn in a cold water flat, but after graduating from NYU, he went on to establish a large law firm and to help found the Polaroid Corporation.
Silver’s gift will fund scholarships for other needy students and endow close to 150 new professor’s chairs. Officials estimate the interest alone should cover 500 academic salaries in a century.
Andrew Carnegie penned “The Gospel of Wealth” in 1889 asserting that all personal wealth beyond what is needed to sustain a family should be considered a trust fund to be administered for the benefit of the community. He felt it was his moral obligation to give away his fortune. In his lifetime, he gave away $350 million through personal gifts and various trusts he set up in America and overseas. His principal goal was to bring education to the masses through free public libraries.
I would have liked to meet him.
Last year Jon Huntsman, founder of the world’s largest privately held chemical company, took out an eight digit loan to keep a cancer institute from going belly up.
Huntsman twice survived cancer, which killed both of his parents, and promised to build a state-of-the-art research center and hospital. He asked drug companies and government agencies to help him fund the center, but found no takers. Undaunted, Huntsman resolved to build it himself and pledged to support it with millions annually. When economic conditions in 2001, halved his company’s operating budget, Huntsman borrowed using his personal assets as collateral.
His gifts to the cancer institute total more than $225 million.
Huntsman says he will continue to give no matter what it takes “to rid the world of this horrible disease.”
Ruth Lilly, heiress to a pharmaceutical magnate, never had a poem published in Poetry magazine though she submitted her poetry for decades. But that didn’t stop her from donating more than $100 million to the magazine which is long been regarded as the top journal in the field.
The managing editor says he plans to use the money to fund a national poetry training program for teachers and he plans to pay his contributor’s more than $2 a line.
Giving gives.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
February 26, 2003

Image addiction becoming ridiculous
“Eventually you reach a point in your life where you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.” — a Vent in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
As for me, that is a half-truth. To put it another way, I am halfway there. I’ve stopped lying about my age (I’ll be 80 on June 11), but I haven’t started bragging about it. Not yet.
However, I will share with you what Dr. Farris Johnson told me when I went for my annual physical in December, 2002. “Virgil,” he said, “the only difference I see in you now and when I first saw you is your damaged (detached retina) left eye.”
Dr. Johnson first saw me 15 years ago, when I was 65. So maybe I should start telling everybody I’m 15 years younger than I really am. But that would be lying. Bragging?
OK, so I’m bragging. And thanking Dr. Johnson and the Good Lord.
But I think the Vent guy was talking about bragging about old age, not young age.
Wonder what would happen if everybody stopped lying and worrying about our age and accepted the hand that our parents, Mother Nature and Father Time, dealt us?
But nooooooo, we pile images on top of images in an effort to cover up the real you and me. Our addiction to images is getting to be ridiculous.
Some of the images that we think make us look good today ain’t gonna look too good a few years down the road.
Personally, I don’t think tattoos, look particularly good on anything — not even young arms, chests, breasts, ankles, calves, thighs, rear ends and some appendages to which I am not privy. If they don’t look good on young, firm, smooth skin, just think what they are going to look like when that young, firm, smooth skin becomes old, flabby and wrinkled. Rose petals wilt. Butterfly wings break up. Hearts are torn asunder, and L.O.V.E. and your sweetie’s name are not legible anymore. (That your sweetie’s name is obscured may be a good thing.)
That is going to be one ugly sight, those tattoos, and I’ll wager that a lot of women — and a few men – in their 50s and 60s are going to ask themselves, “Why in the world did I do that?”
Rather than show off their skin art, they’ll be trying to hide it. And some outfit will come up with a miracle treatment or a guaranteed new product that will help them do it — for a price. Images, whether coming or going, are not cheap.
So much for tattoos. Let us move on to body piercings.
Jack Nicholson would call ‘em mutilations. I wouldn’t go that far. Let’s go with image enhancements.
Are they necessary? Absolutely. How else, where else, are you going to hang all that jewelry?
This old fogey goes along with ear piercing, although clasp or screw-on rings would do the job just as well.
But the ear is where I draw the line. And while I used to think that it should not be done until after high school graduation, I have compromised somewhat. It should not be done before the little girl’s first birthday. The little boy should be a kindergarten graduate before anybody punches holes in his ears.
(Don’t you just love it when an old man fantasizes about the horse and buggy days and yearns to live in the past? Reminds me of when my kids told me they didn’t want to hear anymore about going barefoot, walking to school, totin’ firewood, using the outdoor privy, and sleeping on a featherbed with a warm iron at my feet in the wintertime.)
I have a confession. Although snap-on earrings would suffice, I have spent big bucks on earrings for pierced ears on pretty faces of the females in my life. (No, there were not that many; just a few family members.)
But like I said, that is where I draw the line. No other pierced body parts. If God had intended for us to have holes through our eyebrows, nose, tongue, belly button and appendages I’d rather not mention, He would have created them.
I put dangling jewelry in the same category with flabby tattoos. It’s going to be one ugly sight, all that fake gold and silver and stuff, a few years down the road. Not only that; it is going to be a health hazard. Eyelids will droop under the weight of it. Breathing, through metal, will become labored. Wear and tear on tongues and belly buttons will be horrible.
I don’t know the day, date, month and year it will happen, but sometime in the future, people carrying all that weight around will want to divest themselves of it. In the meantime, it’s an addiction.
Now, I have a question: When did the belly button, a.k.a. navel, become a thing of beauty?
Anyway, it looks like if a young lady aspires to be a middle school, high school or college cheerleader, and doesn’t want to show off her navel, forget it.
Another question: If a young lady’s navel is all that pretty, why isn’t a young man’s?
How many of you are old enough to remember when the only concern we had for our navel was whether or not there was any lint in it?
I personally don’t see anything attractive about anybody’s belly button — not even if it is lint free. And metal hanging on it, in it, or out of it doesn’t do anything for me.
Anyway, anyone putting your navel on public display better enjoy the adulation, prestige and flattery while you are young. Like your flabby tattoos and dangling jewelry, your belly button is going to be one ugly sight a few years down the road. Nobody’s gonna want to see it.
And for better or worse, you may not be able to see it. When you get older and start eating, and your metabolism shuts down, and you ain’t cheerleading or exercising anymore, your flabby, fat belly will lap (envelop entirely) your belly button and any jewelry that might be hanging on it.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.


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