A million dollars means something different to everyone from the way it makes you feel, to the way it makes you act to how you acquire it…

    My Dad was a simple man.  Jimmy Todorovsky, like his cousins, came to Flint, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario from the little Macedonian village of Bouf.  They were mostly born during the early years of WWII and then were children during the Civil war between the Greeks and the Macedonians.  Life was hard and times were tough.  People lost sons and husbands in the war, with little medical care, many died due to illnesses that today would be easily recovered from with a prescription or adequate medical treatment.  Food was scarce and many witnessed the harshness of living in an occupied land under a militaristic state.  Many left Bouf for the United States, Canada and Melbourne Australia  and there is not much there now.  The Boufchani  (those who come from Bouf) are hearty and kind people.  I have heard numerous stories of families taking in fellow villagers’ children when orphaned at a time when they really didn’t have enough food for their own.  A Boufchani would literally give you the shirt of their back.  They don’t complain, they work hard and they will do ANYTHING so that their children will have a better life.  They love their God, their Family, and they love their adoptive country, never forgetting from whence they came.  Someone might have had more education than my Dad, his brother and his cousins, but no one would out work  them.  NO ONE.

    Fast forward to a few years later, the cousins all either had jobs or were on their way to owning if not already, their own restaurant/Coney Island.  They all worked long hours, took care of their families and felt that they were living the American Dream. My Dad took Sundays off in the summer.  He built a pool because the neighborhood club pool was ‘at capacity’ and there was a waiting list.  We loved going to Church on Sundays.  My Mom cooking out while we played in the pool with my Dad.  I remember one time drying off while my Mom brought the lunch out to the pool and he said as he got out of the pool, “I feel like a million bucks!”  At the time, we just laughed and he did too.  As a nine or ten year old kid, we did know what my Dad had been through, we just knew that he worked hard and long hours with my Uncle David at the restaurant and we knew that he talked differently than our friends’ Dads.  Over the years we would hear him say that when we spent time on Lake Fenton on a summer holiday or when he got to witness one of his grandchildren hit a milestone like a graduation, sporting event or a wedding.  “I feel like a million bucks!”  Over a life time of hard work, maybe he had earned that, but my Dad never felt like the money was the most important thing.  His bank account didn’t total up to a million bucks, but he was smart enough to know that if you had a few bucks in your pocket, it gave you freedom.  Freedom to make some choices, take care of your family and the ability to call your own shots or at least the shots he wanted to make….

Vivek Ramaswamy is smart, articulate and full of energy. He has a good understanding of the problems facing our country right now. Does he have what it takes to be President? I don't know, but he is an impressive candidate.

    Vivek Ramaswamy’s parents, educated came from India and like my Dad, they arrived with little money in their pockets, but they were willing to work hard and they taught their sons  that hard work and an education was the ticket to the American Dream and all that, that included.  They taught him well as he went on to graduate with an B.A. degree from Harvard and a law degree from Yale. He went on to succeed in business, working for a hedge fund, managing a bio-tech portfolio, which led to him founding his own biotechnology company and then working with the process of patenting drugs.  Vivek knows how to succeed in his area of expertise and finances.  He also knows how to make money, with some reports saying that he is worth, not a million dollars but more up near a billion with all of his assets.  He may or may not be the best candidate for President, time will tell, but there is no doubt that this thirty-eight year old man understands business and how to get things done, “a million dollars,  baby”  is nothing to him.

Whether one is a fan of Trump or not, what he has been put through to date, is not what our fore fathers intended.

    Donald Trump.  During the seventies, he was the young, entrepreneur who capitalized on the hard times New York City was experiencing.  New York was a mess, crime was through the roof, street crime, mob crime and petty crime.  Mayor Koch was not know as a ‘get’er done’ kind of guy.  A Federal Prosecutor,  Rudy

NYC Mayor, Rudy Guiliani and developer/entrepreneur Donald Trump back when they worked together in NYC

Giuliani ran for mayor of NYC and lost on his first bid.  He ran again and won.  Rudy had taken on the mob, white collar crime, and all the rest that had seemed to have over run the city. putting the criminals where they belong, behind bars.  He was tough and from the get go, he made it a mission to prosecute all crimes.  If you broke a window, they took you in and there were consequences.  It wasn’t long before the word was out and little by little, the  crime in New York went down.  As property values were down Donald Trump and his dad started to buy up older buildings and less desirable properties and turned them around.  The city had tried to build an ice rink for years making little progress toward completion.  Trump took it over and in 4 months the rink was done and way under budget. New Yorkers loved Donald Trump and he was the golden guy of NYC with each one of his properties being more spectacular than the last.  His Czech wife, Ivana, had good taste and helped him with the decor. They were a good team and at one time were the toast of NY.  Sometimes the success and attention can get the best of someone and it happened to The Donald, going through a very public divorce which began with an extramarital affair.  Not a good idea but they all moved on and interestingly, Ivana was invited to the President’s Inauguration and when she passed away last summer, the President attended her funeral with his children.  Anyway, with Giuliani cleaning up the NYC crime scene and Trump developing more and more of the city, it became a safer place and it seemed to be on it’s way to recovery,  bringing more and more tourists and people once again felt safe traveling the city. Of course Donald Trump moved on to Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and other major American cities and even venturing overseas to a golf resort in Ireland. Listed as a billionaire, ‘A million dollars, baby’ is nothing to him either.  Like Vivek, he knows how to make it.  No one can argue that  that Donald Trump has been a success in the world of business.   He has his own airplane more than one residence and although some may complain that his dad gave him a start.  Of course he did.  Lots of people are fortunate enough to have their parent give them some help, be it paying for or helping with college expenses, going into business with them or helping them here or there.  However, if a son or daughter squanders what they have been given or the opportunities, the money was for naught and we all have seen plenty of that whether it’s a spoiled brat son or daughter or an adult child who still saps off of mom and dad living in the basement way into their adult years.  Donald Trump took the knowledge and money his dad gave him and built up on it.  His dad gave him a higher platform to jump off of and Trump made the most of it

President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter deplane from Air Force 1, while Joe Biden is in office.

    Joe Biden grew up in Scranton Pennsylvania.  Known to his constituents as a congressman and senator as ‘ordinary Joe,’ due to the fact that he came from a working class background and because he rode the train to work most days so that he could be home with his young family, following the tragic auto accident death of his wife and baby daughter, when he wanted to be the parent to tuck his two surviving sons into bed at night.  Joe became known for his gaffs and ability to, what some consider, his ability to identify with the ordinary person.  Biden worked for the citizens of the United States as a career politician.  A senator and congressman makes a little under $200,000 a year with speaker and other officers making a little more.  A Vice-President makes about $235,000 and the President makes $400,000.  All of these government positions are well-paying jobs, however, when you look at the tax bracket that puts these salaries in, and in addition to paying for private school educations and undergraduate and professional school salaries for children, it’s surprising that Joe Biden has been able to amass the millions of dollars to shell out for his luxurious estates, seeing that he comes from such humble working class beginnings,  and the family is not known to have a physical business, aside from his political endeavors.   ‘A Million Dollars, Baby!’

Who knew what the artist Hunter Biden was?

    Hunter Biden grew up the son of a congressman, then senator as an adult his father became the Vice-President and then President.  He was educated at private prep-school and then went on to Georgetown University and Yale Law School.  He has held a variety of positions in both the public and private sector, as well as a stint in the armed services, until he was discharged for drug use.  Recently, released bank records show that he has been involved with many foreign governments and following visits to these countries, or meetings with their leading governmental officials,  millions of dollars were deposed into a series of bank accounts and then ending up in family members’ accounts.  Hunter is known to have traveled with his father on the Vice-President’s plane, Air Force 2, at least thirteen times.  Interestingly, on some of these overseas trips he declined Secret Service protection as he traveled through the country, once arriving.  He has neglected to pay taxes on the millions of dollars he has received  and has tried to deduct payment for prostitutes on his taxes.  As of late, he now known for his art work which seems to be in demand.  Does it go for ‘a million dollars, baby?’ I don’t know, but he too has become a wealthy man by today’s standards.

Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank from the movie, "Million Dollars Baby."

Clint Eastwood directed and starred in an award winning movie about a young female boxer who he befriends when she trains at his gym.  He becomes her coach and travels with her.  He begins to look at her almost as a daughter, as his ‘million dollar baby.’  The film won many Academy Awards including Best Actress for Hilary Swank who played the female boxer, although I felt the ending was depressing and I felt that it should have had a more optimistic ending.

Sometimes those who are close to us in our lives have such precious value to us, some may use phrases like “my child is so dear to me he is priceless,” or “my husband treats me like a million dollars,”. Money is of value because we are able to buy things with it.  Money, like so much in life can be used for good or for evil.  Money isn’t the most important thing in life, just ask the person suffering from a life threatening or debilitating illness.  Most likely they would spend all the money they had for good health.  I have heard the phrase, money is the lubricant of life, it allows for the necessities and the niceties.  For some, they know how much is enough and for some, there is never enough.  Money can be “the root of all evil (actually, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10) .  ‘A million dollars, baby,’ can be a blessing or a curse.  It is for each one of us to decide how we will use the gifts we are given and the money we earn for “You cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24).  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).  Wishing you a great week.