How Much is Enough?

Earlier this month, attorney Steven Simkin decided to sue his ex-wife over their divorce settlement.  Simkin cited the fact that, due to being taken in by investment con man Bernie Madoff, he is now suffering “extreme hardship” and has been “gravely damaged” by the scam.  What Simkin doesn’t mention is that, prior to the marriage, he and his wife had assets totaling $13.2 million, that he paid her $6.6 million in the settlement or that last year he made around $3 million.  Now, all this happened in 2006 so he should over $21 million, less whatever he lost in the Madoff scam.  Simkin is suing because he claims the $6.6 million he paid his wife in their divorce settlement was in error, that their combined assets were much lower because the Madoff accounts were a Ponzi scheme and didn’t actually exist, so he shouldn’t have to pay her that much.  His ex-wife’s attorneys are claiming that the accounts did exist, but the couple was wrong about its future value.  As I read all this, the question that kept coming to mind was “How much is enough?”

This whole deal is over a couple arguing about who gets to keep the millions they accrued during their life together.  As I pointed out earlier, but for his greed, Simkin could have amassed over $20 million in the last 5 years; a very tidy sum if you ask me.  However, Simkin chose to buy into Madoff’s extravagant claims and poured money down what turned out to be a rat hole.  Evidently, he’s unwilling to take the blame for his current “predicament” (having income of $3 million is a predicament I’d like to be in) and is trying to make his ex pony up.  Think about that for a minute; three million dollars isn’t enough for this guy to get by on, so he’s suing someone to get more.  And, it’s not like that 3 million is a one-time deal; Simkin is a partner in a big-time New York City law firm and will make at least that much again next year.  I understand wanting to be secure and not having to worry about money, but that’s just ridiculous.

While Simkin’s of this world argue over who winds up spending their millions, there are way too many people who don’t have money to spend at all.  While the Simkin’s of this world worry about how their investments are faring, there are way too many people worrying about what they’re going to feed their kids that day; or if they’re going to be able to feed them at all.  While the Simkin’s of this world worry about their homes, main and vacation, there are way too many people in this world who live in a cardboard box.  While the Simkin’s of this world drive around in luxury cars, there are way too many people who are counting pennies to make bus fare and get to their minimum wage job.  And, before you get to comfortable wagging your finger at the Simkin’s of this world, remember this: to the homeless guy in the cardboard box, the single mom worrying about how she’ll feed her kids and the dad riding the bus to his dishwashing job, you and I are the Simkin’s of this world.   Whether they’re right or not depends on what we do with our assets.