Jackpot

Jackpot

“Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live — and How Their Wealth Harms Us All” by Michael Mechanic, 2021, Simon & Schuster, 416 pages, $28.00

It only costs a dollar.

That’s what it takes to dream. A dollar, five numbers and your head spins with all the things you could do with the kind of money you might win. Fancy yachts, huge homes, luxury cars, travel, you could do much with it. But, as in the new book “Jackpot” by Michael Mechanic, what will that money do to you?

What would you do with a windfall?

If you’re like most people, you have a quick answer because you’ve already thought it through. Chances are, you’d head out first with a debit card in hand.

You’ll find many merchants to help you spend your money, from high-end restaurants to shoe designers to car dealerships. Buy yourself a mansion, but remember that those rooms have extra costs: upkeep, insurance, heating and cooling, utilities, staff to keep it nice. Ditto on the cost for your new jet and your yacht. Even an exclusive concierge service, meant to make your wildest dreams come true, comes with a regular fee.

Making that wealth stretch from now to the next generation isn’t going to be cheap either, and it’ll take serious work on your part. You’ll also need lawyers, accountants, financial and market advisers, a whole host of professionals who will need constant decisions from you.

Like most newly wealthy people, you’ll probably worry about keeping your cash and about making more of it. For sure, relationships with almost everyone you know will be changed.

By the way, think hard about leaving scads of cash to the children.

Yes, money does indeed talk, and it talks loudly to politicians and people in high positions. Just 1 percent of the “one percent” are unimaginably powerful — money buys more than just things — and the gap between the haves and the have-nots widens annually.

The question, asks Mechanic, is why we’ve tolerated it for so long.

Each week, you set aside a contribution to the lottery, ever hopeful. In your mind, the winnings are already spent, but read this book and you’ll think again.

Before you get to an introspection-level, though, “Jackpot” is so darn entertaining, filled with stories of folks who unintentionally struck it rich in ways they never expected. Reading their stories feels almost like a workbook for potential winners: Do you do this or that? Buy a plane or change careers? Build another house? Where? Who cares?

But Mechanic gets to that, first, by taking readers on a shopping spree that initially seems wild but that eventually feels like no fun at all. This reality check becomes a behind-the-checkbook look at big money’s mindset, its racial issues, the serious drawbacks to having it, its responsibilities and don’t be surprised if you don’t like what you see.

Lack of money is hard — but having it is no walk in the bank, either.

Still, it’s fun to dream, so keep “Jackpot” just offstage in your fantasy. If you’ve ever watched those numbered balls spin, fingers crossed, this book is a big win.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. You can reach Terri at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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