November 5, 2006

Land of The Free

Why do we give rich people free things?

Well, I don't, but tell me you haven't ever wondered why mega-rich stars get those ludicrous loot bags for going to events. And before you gently explain to me it's because they want these famous and feted to adorn themselves with some specific brand, thereby bringing fame and attention to said brand, let's be clear. I could not tell you in a million years what brand of watch George Clooney wears - and I've spent some serious time poring over pictures of George Clooney.

Someone just gave Prince Charles a yak. I guess he had to accept it graciously ("oh, so sorry, I already have a yak!") and was no doubt relieved to find out the custom was to instantly return it to the giver. Poor yak has probably been given away dozens of times.

I think it's kind of sweet when people send baby gifts to famous people that have babies. But the thinking gets not so sweet when you realize that even if that gift actually finds its way to the new parents, the chances of them ever, ever letting it come in contact with their royal offspring are about zilch. Why don't these people send these gifts to a shelter or hospital in their own community, where it can be appreciated?

I feel the same way about stuffed toys placed on impromptu shrines created for children senselessly taken from us. I watch them become soggy with rain, and dirty from time, and wish they'd been donated instead in the name of the lost.

Companies that pony up their big-ticket items to be put into gift bags for 'stars' would get more mileage by donating the goods to auctions for charity. There, the other rich people can pay for the stuff and feel good doing it. I've read of some big names who do donate the bags - and believe me, that goes a lot further in my give-a-sh*t book then whether or not some swaggering pretty starlet got a free vacation in Tahoe.

I read recently that the IRS has been cracking down on the tax implications of stars accepting loot. Good. My mother used to say 'much wants more'. She said it with disdain. We're the poor slobs who have to work for every nickel, and it grates a little to see someone like Jessica Simpson pout at being told to pay the freight for running through an event grabbing things like her arse in on fire.

Play the 'what would I grab if there was a fire?' game. After kids and pets, I guarantee most people would say photo albums.

If it can be replaced, it ain't worth sweating over.


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