The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

February 25, 2013

The Color of Money: Stuff gets in the way

   Why would a couple risk so much -- respect and even their freedom -- for furs, furniture and a fedora?

    This was the question that came to my mind when I read the federal charges against Jesse L. Jackson Jr., the former congressman from Illinois. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to misusing about $750,000 in private campaign funds. Jackson's wife, Sandra Stevens Jackson, who resigned her seat on the Chicago City Council, reached an agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office to plead guilty to one count of tax fraud.

     Part of what I do is help people understand the often-complicated issues we have to deal with when it comes to our money. But I also like to explore the mess people get themselves into when they don't have the money to buy the things they want. Most often they get into mind-boggling debt. If Jackson takes a plea deal as has been reported, he has lost so much and for what?

     Stuff.

     You have to shake your head when you read the things he purchased. According to a property list detailed in a court document, he spent:

     -- $5,000 on fur capes and parkas.

     -- $9,588 for children's furniture.

     -- $26,700 for Michael Jackson memorabilia, including a $4,600 fedora.

     -- $10,105 for Bruce Lee memorabilia.

     -- $11,130 for Martin Luther King Jr. memorabilia.

     -- $2,200 for Malcolm X memorabilia.

     -- $2,775 for Jimi Hendrix memorabilia.

     -- $43,350 for a gold-plated Rolex watch.

     -- $5,000 for a football signed by American presidents.

     Was Jackson, the son of civil rights activist Jesse L. Jackson, trying to appear wealthy by any means necessary? Were the Jacksons eager to impress their more wealthy colleagues or the people who run with them in their circle of power and privilege?

     For many people, it can be hard to resist the urge to pretend you're rich when you're around so many people who are truly wealthy. Not an excuse, just an observation.

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