Cleve Francis
cardiologist, musician

Cleve Francis

Cardiologist; President, Mount Vernon Cardiology Associates, Alexandria, Va.; musician.


Don't begrudge the rich

Q: How hard is it to stay grounded when you've had as much success as Oprah? Kitty Kelley's new biography discusses her charitable giving and her big-time indulgences. Should anyone begrudge her $500 mink eyelashes or $365,000 Bentley? And why do we love reading about the foibles of the rich and famous?

The number of people who can have $500 mink eyelashes or own a $365,000 Bentley is undeed limited. Those folks who can afford to do this do it without regard to cost or need, but instead to want. If you are fortunate enought to have this kind of cash lying around, go for it.

We should not begrudge these lucky individuals because none of us really know what we would do, say or buy if we had the good fortune to be as wealthy. I am always amazed to see what happens when the Walmart clerk wins the lottery. All of a sudden, he or she starts buying lots of things they want but do not need (many times to their own destruction and loss of most of the money).

I personally do not envy the rich. Granted, some of them may not have "earned" the money, but some started out from humble beginnings. Because of their talents, their taking advantage of opportunities and being in the right place at the right time, they have achieved a dream and all of the wealth that comes with it. We do not expect it, but it is certainly refreshing to see some of them giving and sharing some of their great wealth with the very society that has allowed them to prosper.

The world-wide humanitarian work of Bill and Melinda Gates, the school in Las Vegas started and funded by tennis great Andre Agassi and the life-long work in public service by the Kennedy and Rockefeller families are a few examples of this.

In Oprah's case, she is the poster child of "achieving the American dream." She started out very much like most of us and took advantage of the opportunities to get where she is now. On her journey, she has certainly given much back to the society that created her.

The name Oprah has become synonymous with success, power, fame and the ability to annoint ( as in the cases of Drs. Oz and Phil, along with Rachael Ray and numerous authors who became famous overnight as a result of her endorsement of their books). The establishment of the girls' school in South Africa was no small matter, and the new network that she is starting will create jobs and dreams for many people. There are millions of women young and old who still see her as a role model and will follow her every word. These are facts whether or not you are a fan of hers.

The real danger from the rich comes when they use their fortunes to influence politics, world finance and resources. Who will ever forget the financial greed and destrction of lives and fortunes by Bernard Madoff? I have not read Kitty Kelley's biography of Oprah, but I strongly doubt that within all of its pages we will find Oprah guilty of any of the above offenses.

In the final analysis, these very wealthy folks are just human beings and not gods. As long as their indulgences aren't harmful to others, they should be viewed as just that -- perks of the rich and famous.

By Cleve Francis  |  April 22, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  The lush life Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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agree with all except for one thing. oprah already tried to influence politics: what, her celebrity nod to obama isnt the same as the ones you rightly list about celebrity chefs, interiour designers and physicians ??

Posted by: liz18 | April 26, 2010 11:09 AM
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