Tahoe Pine Nuts: What now, Powerball winners? | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Pine Nuts: What now, Powerball winners?

McAvoy Layne
Pine Nuts

What would you do with a billion dollar windfall? Seriously. Let's give it some thought. McMansion? No, too ostentatious and too hard to clean.

Mega yacht? No, too much like being under house-arrest, but with a chance of drowning. Political influence? No, today's politicians don't have morals or ethics high enough to stay bought. Well then, how 'bout philanthropy?

Let's take a look at America's most noted givers, Andrew Carnegie being the first. Carnegie became the world's richest person with the sale of his steel company in 1901.

He authored, "The Gospel of Wealth," in which he suggested, "He who dies rich dies disgraced." And then he gifted us those thousands of wonderful Carnegie libraries. You've got to love that old Scott.

Mark Twain knew Carnegie, "St. Andrew," and made this observation about him in volume III of his autobiography, published a few months ago by the Mark Twain Project of the Bancroft Library:

"He loves to talk about his encounters with sovereigns and aristocracies; loves to talk of these artificialities in a highly scoffing and compassionate vein, and try not to let on that those encounters are the most precious bric-a-brac in the treasury of his memory; but he is just a human being, and he can't even wholly deceive himself, let alone the housecat."

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By the way, it was Mark Twain who gave us the early 20th century term, "Gilded Age." He must be spinning like a lathe today.

More recently, the world's wealthiest man of this century, Bill Gates, is donating most of his wealth to improving health care in poor countries, a noteworthy endeavor. Warren Buffet has followed suit and is comingling his philanthropy with Gates. (Truth be known, I'd rather be Jimmy Buffett than Warren Buffett.)

So what about Zuckerberg? He too, at 31 years of age, has pledged 99% of his and his wife's stock in Facebook to charity, leaving only 450 million to get by on.

Personally, I'm happy to be living in Nevada where we don't have lotteries, but can get a little action on the Warriors to cover. Moreover, I judge wealth by the number of friends you have, and if you've got three you're a wealthy person.

Lotteries are a drain on the poor to be sure, but at least a certain portion of the jackpot goes toward education, and education will enlighten us to the fact that where Powerball gives us a one in 292 million chance of not going to work tomorrow, tequila gives us a one in five chance of not going to work tomorrow.

There's nothing in numbers, life is serendipitous. I knew a man who drowned in a lake whose average depth was three feet. You see what I mean?

I figure if I give my time or money (not both) to a charity that provides for those who are less fortunate than I am, that act feeds my better self and permits me to buy a beer for my better self and a friend at the end of a Tahoe day, and it doesn't get any better than that.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.com.