Thursday, July 19, 2012

Good Old Grandfather

My paternal grandfather, who is my only grandfather I have ever known, has sent out a proposal to all of his grandchildren. He wants us to contribute money to Willard Romney's campaign fund, and has offered us financial incentives for doing so. For those of us who are in college or will be in college, any amount that we contribute will be returned to us two-fold in our college discretionary accounts in January of 2013, or, in the cases of those who will not yet be in college in January of 2013, in the first month of college or university enrollment. For those who are out of college or are currently serving LDS missions, the conditions are different, but all are based upon a "support Romney now, double your money in a relatively short interval" premise.

I have trouble with this on so many levels that I scarcely know where to begin, so I suppose I'll begin somewhere in the middle. I seriously doubt that this scheme is even legal. I'll consult my PseudoAunt as soon as she wakes up from her nap. (She has cystic fibrosis and rests at odd times.) Even if my grandfather's plan were not only legal but recommended by the IRS, I still wouldn't do it. Even if my grandfather offered to decatuple my money three seconds after I made the contribution, I still wouldn't do it. Sometimes one must act on principle.

This entire situation causes me to question my grandfather's motives, but only momentarily, as he is, for the most part,  pretty transparent. I didn't say that he is honest or straightforward -- just that he is transparent. my grandfather amassed a considerable fortune in his working years. He will contribute heavily to the Romney campaign. Political contributions are not tax-deductible. Under the right circumstances, contributions to the education of descendants are tax-deductible. I'm sure my grandfather has that angle covered. What he doesn't know about loopholes of this sort, his slimy tax attorney in Salt Lake City does know.  Anyway my grandfather has sixty-two grandchildren.* (It's probable that not of all his children are finished procreating; there likely will be even more grandchildren before all is said and done -- mostly done.) He can probably get them to donate an average of one thousand dollars each to Romney's campaign. Then he can come out even in doubling the grandchildren's money with the creative tax breaks he'll utilize.

My grandfather says he's doing this to encourage all of us to "be of service to out fellow man"  and to learn that sacrificing for the present means ultimately having more. My interpretation is that it encourages all of us to look for "get rich quick" schemes that aren't very safe, as opposed to working hard and putting our money into more secure investments. My grandfather has been fortunate, financially speaking, as Mormons go. As often as not, Mormons trust other Mormons and invest in highly speculative capitalistic ventures -- frequently pyramid schemes by any other name -- and end up having to delay retirement because of their unsound financial practices. By doubling his grandchildren's money so quickly and easily, he's setting us all up for future financial failure.

I have two additional reasons not to take my grandfather up on his offer.  Reason Number One is that I'd almost as soon send money to Charlie Manson at the Corcoran Prison or, for that matter, donate money to Satan himself as to give it to Mitt Romney's campaign. Reason Number Two is that I do not trust my grandfather to give even the money I contribute back to me, much less double it. He sent each of us a contract to complete, but if the terms of a contract are not legal, the contract itself is unenforceable by law. I am easily my grandfather's least favorite grandchild, and it's not much of a stretch to imagine him using this as an opportunity to swindle me out of my hard-earned cash. My parents know this as well, so they wouldn't approve of my participation in  this Ponzi scheme of sorts even if I wanted to be a part of it.

I have my own angle I might explore just for the sheer fun of it. I'll approach my grandfather -- in writing, of course -- to say that, while I appreciate his offer, I cannot  in good conscience  contribute to the campaign of Willard Romney. Since my grandfather's motivations as outlined are altruistic and not political, surely he wouldn't mind extending the same terms to me if I were to contribute to the opposition. I've already contributed to the Obama campaign and plan to donate more. It's no loss to me if I don't see a dime of it back from my grandfather.

My mother says I should not make my proposal to my grandfather because it might cause him to have the big one. My Uncle Michael says I should go for it. He's a medical doctor, and my grandfather is his father, so I probably will proceed with my counter-proposal to him.

* My brother and I are two of those sixty-two grandchildren, which means we each now have sixty first-cousins on my dad's side. My mom is one of seven children, and there are a total of twenty-seven grandchildren on her side, two of whom are my brother and me. This means we have twenty-five first-cousins on my mom's side. Matthew and I each have a total of eighty-five first cousins. I know this is not any sort of a record, but it's still a mind-boggling number. We don't all exchange Christmas gifts; if we did, none of us would have any money to contribute to Willard Romney's campaign or to any other cause. The truth of the matter is that if we're going to contribute to any cause, it probably should be Planned Parenthood.

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