A New ‘Affluenza’ Epidemic

Remember back in 2015, when I wrote about Ethan Couch, the ‘affluenza teen’?  Most of you probably weren’t readers of this blog yet at that time, so I will include links to the series of posts I did about him, in case you’re interested.  In a nutshell, Ethan Couch stole two cases of beer from a store, then stole his father’s pickup truck, then with seven passengers in tow, driving 70mph in a 40mph zone, crashed into an SUV and a Volkswagen, killing four people.

couch

Ethan Couch

Couch was initially sentenced to ten years’ probation in juvenile court after his lawyer argued that it was not his fault, but the fault of his parents because he had been so privileged that he was incapable of discerning right from wrong or understanding the consequences of his actions.  After violating the terms of his probation in a most blatant manner, a judge finally sentenced him to 720 consecutive days in jail and he was set free in April 2018.

brock turner

Brock Allen Turner

And then there was Brock Allen Turner, who I wrote about in mid-2016.  Turner raped an unconscious woman on the campus of Stanford University after a party.  There were witnesses, so there was no question of his guilt.  After eight days of testimony, the jury returned with a ‘guilty’ verdict.  Based on that verdict, Turner could have faced up to 14 years in prison.  The judge sentenced him to 180 days in jail, saying …

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

With time off for “good behaviour”, Turner served only three months.

Well, it’s just happened again, folks.  It actually happened two years ago, but for reasons I will explain in a minute, has only made headlines this week.  An unnamed New Jersey teen, 16 years of age with the initials G.M.C. raped an unnamed, intoxicated, teenage girl, again at a party.  But, he didn’t stop there … he went on to video record himself raping the girl, then sent it to seven of his friends, texting them, [w]hen your first time having sex was rape.”

Monmouth County prosecutors in 2017 sought to charge the boy as an adult with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, among other charges.  His behavior, prosecutors said, was “sophisticated and predatory,” warranting a waiver of the juvenile to adult court.  I agree.  The rape itself was bad enough, but the fact that he recorded it and then bragged about it, sharing the recording with seven friends, to me indicates that there was no remorse whatsoever, that he was well aware that what he did was wrong, and that he was proud to have been a jerk.

The New Jersey family court judge, one Judge James Troiano, however, had other ideas.

“This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well…He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college.”

James Troiano

Judge James Troiano

He went on to say that that the boy’s alleged actions didn’t fit “the traditional case of rape” — which, according to him, occurs when “two or more men” “clearly manhandle” a victim at gunpoint.  Say WHAT???  When did the definition of ‘rape’ change to include guns and two or more men??? As to the teen’s text message to his friends referring to the rape, Troiano dismissed it as “stupid crap” a 16-year-old says to his friends.  Judge Troiano also noted that the young male had been an “Eagle scout”.  Oh, surely he must be pure of heart and spirit then, eh?  Oh yes, one more thing.  Judge Troiano said that the girl and her family should have been told that bringing charges against the boy could have a “devastating effect” on his life.  Again … Say WHAT???  Methinks the good judge has a mistaken notion of who is the victim here!

Now, two years later, an appellate court has overturned Troiano’s decision and also admonished Judge Troiano for deciding the case on his own, when he had only been tasked with deciding if the youth should be tried as an adult or a juvenile.  GMC will now be tried as an adult. And two days later, the same appellate panel overturned a similar ruling by another judge in the case of a 16-year-old male raping a 12-year-old female.  In that case, family court Judge Marcia Silva determined the teen’s actions were not “heinous” because the victim only lost her virginity and bled, which the judge believed was not “especially serious harm.”

Is this, then, the new culture in the United States?  It isn’t behaviour or morality, but only how much money one has that determines guilt or innocence, especially in cases of crimes against women?  Think about this … the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct multiple times, and his response was that “when you’re famous, they let you do it”.  We all remember the famous ‘grab ‘em by the {ahem}’ remark, right?  Do we women need to start carrying a baseball bat with us wherever we go?

And the whole thing begs the question … what if the young lad had been poor … what if he had been black or Hispanic?  Would the judge then have allowed him to be tried as an adult?  Would he have, perhaps, received a 20-year sentence?  What sort of message does this send to the children who had the luck-of-the-draw to be born into wealthy families?  Or poor families?  And when these wealthy spoiled brats get by with a slap on the wrist, what message does that send to them for their future?  “Oh, fine, as long as I stay rich, I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and suffer no consequences.”  We are one screwed up nation.  Think about it.


Links to posts about Ethan Couch:

And Brock Turner:

A Case of MIS-Justice … Again …

brock turner

Brock Allen Turner

On the night of January 17th, 2015, a 23-year-old woman decided to accompany her younger sister to a fraternity party on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.  As fate would have it, a young man by the name of Brock Allen Turner, a student at Stanford University, was attending the same party.  The young woman, unaccustomed to alcohol had a few too many drinks.  Mr. Turner, apparently fancying himself to be quite a ladies’ man, spent his evening drinking alcohol and kissing all the girls before, honing in on the young lady, taking her behind a dumpster, and though by this time she had lost consciousness, proceeding to rape her. Two Stanford graduate students passing by on bicycles witnessed the rape and pulled Turner off of the young woman, holding him until police arrived.  Turner was arrested and charged with “assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.”

I do write about social injustice of all sorts, however typically I do not write about rape cases, because there are too many of them to single out just one, but mostly because I think the controversy that is generally stirred by articles such as this further violate the victim’s privacy.  I am making an exception here, not so much because it is a rape case, as because of what happened afterward.

The case of Brock Allen Turner came to trial in March 2016, more than a year after the rape.  After eight days of testimony, the jury returned with a ‘guilty’ verdict.  Based on that verdict, Turner could have faced up to 14 years in prison and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.  Turner was released on $150,000 bond pending sentencing by Judge Aaron Persky on 2 June, last Thursday.

A bit of background information on Mr. Turner.  Originally from Dayton, Ohio, he was attending college at Stanford University, where he was a member of the swim team and had Olympic aspirations.  Another spoiled rich kid, similar to Ethan Couch, the ‘Affluenza Teen’? (Related posts:  The New 1% Disease;   The Saga Continues: Affluenza, Part II;     The Affluenza Brat … er … “Teen” Is Back In The News )  Perhaps. Probably.  Most likely.  Almost certainly.

The sentencing:  Judge Persky handed down the sentence, which could have resulted in as much as 14 years in prison, though prosecutors had asked for only six years.  The sentence?  Six months.  Yes, six months, 180 days, with possibility (probability?) for parole at the mid-term of the sentence, meaning that Mr. Brock Turner would spend a mere three months, 90 days, in jail as punishment for ruining the life of a young woman.  The judge, in his own words, said, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

Turner’s parents?  Well, the mother was so angry after the jury returned a ‘guilty’ verdict that she stomped her foot.  The lad’s father, Dan A. Turner, however, expounded at some length against such a ‘harsh’ sentence, saying the following:

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of January 17 and 18.  He will never be his happy go lucky (sic) self with that easy-going personality and welcoming smile.  His every waking moment is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 years of life.”  He goes on to say how much Turner likes to eat – especially Ribeye steaks – and how he’s a ‘very good cook’ but now can hardly eat and only consumes food ‘to exist’.  Are you feeling the love yet, dear readers?  No?  Me either.  You can, if you wish, read the entire letter Mr. Dan A. Turner wrote to Judge Persky here.

So, I have some questions for both Judge Persky and Mr. Dan A. Turner:

  • Mr. Turner, if your son had, say, spent those 20 minutes on a shooting spree and killed a number of people, would your response still be that he is ‘paying too high a price for a mere 20 minutes of action’? And by ’20 minutes of action’, are you implying that as long as your son was having fun, it was simply action?  What about the fact that he forced himself … forced himself … upon a young woman who was not conscious and therefore not able to consent or withhold consent?
  • Judge Persky, on what basis do you think that this young man will “not be a danger to others”? Are you truly willing to bet on that?  But wait, you already did bet … you have bet your integrity, your illusion of impartiality, on that very thing, haven’t you? You have bet the sanctity of the court and the honour of your position, and all for what?  I would speculate that perhaps some cash or other ‘favours’ changed hands here.  Shame on you, Judge Persky, shame on you!
  • Judge Persky, your Honour, you are saying that … we must not impact the life of this young man, even though he is not a juvenile and was certainly old enough to have learned, by age 20, that forcing an unconscious young woman to have sex with him was morally and socially wrong? You are saying that, perhaps because his parents have money, or perhaps because he is (was) an athlete, or because he has certain physical attributes … (ie., white) … that he should be shown leniency by the court, and by society as well?  So sorry, your Honour, but I keep coming back to the young woman he seemingly thought was put on this earth merely for his pleasure, and wondering whether her ordeal will end after six months?  I suspect not.
  • Mr. Turner, what, exactly, is the purpose of you saying how much your son ‘liked ribeye steak’? Was that intended to evoke feelings of empathy?  Do you understand that a) the majority of people on earth rarely, if ever, have the wherewithal to eat steak, and b) being deprived of eating steak for a period of 3-6 months is not considered by the majority of us as ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment? And what do you mean by ‘the events of January 17 and 18?  Why not call it like it is:  the crime your son committed on that date? You, sir, are an abomination, and it would appear that in this case, the apple did not fall far from the tree!

Ah, Filosofa could go on and on and on.  I could pick this case apart, shred by disgusting shred.  However, time and space are finite, and I would like to make one final point.  This case, though it is rape rather than manslaughter, is no different than that of Ethan Couch, the teen supposedly afflicted with a newly-coined social disease the media have labelled ‘Affluenza’.  It is a case where a young person has broken the law, taken or ruined the lives of others, but is given a mere slap on the wrist because his parents are wealthy. The other salient point is that of rape on college campuses nationwide.  A recent government report states that only 12.5% of rapes that take place on college campuses are reported.  Alas, that is a topic for another post, another day.  For today, let us remember the nameless young woman whose life was ruined by a man who we are told should be set free so that he can eat steak.

The Affluenza Brat … er … “Teen” Is Back In The News

Remember Ethan Couch?  Sure you do … he is the Texas teen who, while driving drunk in 2013, crashed into a group of people trying to help a stranded motorist, killing four and injuring nine, two severely.  He was sentenced to ten years’ probation in juvenile court after his lawyer argued that it was not his fault, but the fault of his parents because he had been so privileged that he was incapable of discerning right from wrong or understanding the consequences of his actions.  Prosecutors and families of the victims were enraged that Couch did not serve jail time for his crimes.  Then last year, a video was posted of Couch playing drinking games at a party, a direct violation of the terms of his parole.  However, when his probation officer attempted to contact him, Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, had fled to Mexico.  We, the taxpayers of the U.S., then financed a manhunt by the FBI, Federal Marshall’s Service and other agencies.  Once found, Couch launched a legal battle to attempt to deny or delay extradition back to the U.S., but eventually in February of this year, he was brought back to the U.S.  (Below are links to the two previous posts I wrote about this case):

The New 1% Disease

The Saga Continues – Affluenza Part II

Long story short, yesterday, 13 April 2016, the court sentenced Couch to serve four consecutive terms of 180 days each in prison (one term for each of the 2013 car crash victims) equaling two years in prison.  After that, he will remain on probation until 2024.  The 720-day prison sentence is tentative, as the defense attorneys now have two weeks to mount a viable argument to the judge.  The defense attorney stated that the four deaths caused by Couch should be counted only as one.  Can you imagine being the parent, spouse or child of any of those victims and hearing that?  I cannot.  Four separate lives = four separate counts of murder, in my book.  Perhaps it is a good thing I did not become a lawyer, yes?

Okay, so those are the facts.  Now the Filosofa’s commentary portion.  First, I have to ask “why only two years?”  Initially, he could have faced a sentence of up to ten years, but instead, the judge gave him only 20% of the maximum.  Never mind that he is already, at 19 years of age, an alcoholic.  Never mind that he not only violated his probation by drinking alcohol but then fled the country, seeking asylum in Mexico (where, by the way, another bout of drinking was what led to his capture).  Never mind that he has never been charged with violating parole, nor with theft for the alcohol that he stole shortly before the 2013 crash. And, here is my biggest issue with such a lenient sentence, he has shown no remorse. None.  He has obviously not learned that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol leads to bad judgement.  He has apparently never expressed any remorse for the four lives lost, the nine injured, one of whom is paralyzed for life, nor the countless loved ones of those victims whose lives will never be the same again.  No, this young man has learned not a single life-lesson.  The accident occurred in June 2013, nearly three years ago.  Sergio Molina, who is paralyzed for life as a result of the accident, has already served a longer, more painful sentence than Ethan Couch will ever serve for his crimes.  And he cannot even be bothered to be sorry.

What about Tonya Couch, Ethan’s mother?  She was charged with aiding and abetting and was initially given a $1 million bond, but that was later reduced to $75,000, and she is now home, wearing an ankle bracelet, awaiting a hearing.

couch

Ethan Couch

What message does this whole sordid mess send to wealthy parents and their children?  It does not send the message to parents that they are not doing their children any favours by indulging and over-protecting them from the consequences of their actions.  It does send, I believe, the message to teens who happen to have been fortunate enough to be born into well-to-do families that they can do just about anything and not pay a heavy price.  It sends the message that if they screw up, it is probably the fault of someone else, possibly their parents for not teaching them the difference between right and wrong. Additionally, it sets a legal precedent for future, similar cases. Couch is technically no longer a teen.  He is old enough to understand that what he did was wrong, but he does not appear to understand this at all. If it seems that I am not empathetic, you would be right.  I am not empathetic toward Ethan Couch, nor his mother, nor the rest of his family.  They have no idea what suffering is.

couch victim

Sergio Molina

Suffering is being told that your wife and daughter were just killed by a drunk, underage driver.  Suffering is spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair because somebody else was criminally negligent.  So no, I have no concern, no compassion for Ethan Couch and I will refrain from saying here what I hope will happen to him during the next 720 days.

Contrary to what Couch’s attorneys may say, affluenza is not a disease.  It is parental negligence.  It is, what we in the less well-to-do culture call spoiled-brat.  Were the parents responsible?  To a degree, certainly.  However, this kid was 16 at the time of the murders.  He had been in school for some 11 years.  He had been exposed to the influences of teachers, peers, advisors, coaches, and society at large.  He was, in fact, old enough to know better, should have known better, and still, three years later, cannot say a simple “I am so sorry.”  So no, this spoiled brat deserves no empathy from any of us, neither do his parents.

The Saga Continues: Affluenza, Part II

Lately it seems that all I ever write about is gun regulation, Donald Trump, or the presidential race in general.  I am tired of these topics, but they just won’t go away … every day there is something else that my conscience won’t let me leave alone.  But today, I thought, is the day that I am going to take a break, write about something light and fun!  But alas … maybe tomorrow, because just as I was trying to think of what might be fun for me to write and my readers to read, this crossed my desk:

“Tonya Couch, the mother of so-called “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, had her bond lowered from $1 million to $75,000 at a hearing on Monday.”  http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/us/texas-affluenza-tonya-couch/index.html?sr=fbCNN011216texas-affluenza-tonya-couch0351AMVODtopLink&linkId=20283485

You may remember my post of 16 December 2015 titled “The New 1% Disease” about “affluenza”.  https://jilldennison.com/2015/12/16/the-new-1-disease/  The post was inspired by the story of this woman’s son who, after driving drunk and killing four innocent people, was given only a proverbial slap-on-the-wrist because it was ruled that as a result of being born into a wealthy family, he was not able to understand the concept of responsibility, and thus could not be held accountable for his actions.  Then, just two years into his ten-year probation sentence, he disappeared.  Poof.  Vanished, as did his mother.  Just over two weeks later, Couch and his mother were found in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  The mother was promptly returned to the U.S. and was being held on $1 million bail.  Given the family wealth, one would not expect a mere $1 million to be a huge drain on the family coffers, but apparently it was, so during her bond hearing yesterday the bail was lowered to a modest $75,000.  She is charged with hindering the apprehension of her son, who fled to Mexico after a video surfaced showing him drinking alcohol, a blatant violation of his probation.  She will likely end up paying only 10% of the bond, or $7,500.  Her older son claims that she is broke … a story I find difficult to believe, especially in light of the fact that she withdrew $30,000 from her bank account to fund the trip to Mexico. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $30,000 readily accessible!  Generally a higher bond is intended to keep a person in jail if that person is believed to be a “flight risk”.  Apparently the Texas judge who lowered Ms. Couch’s bail does not believe that she is at risk of disappearing before trial, despite the fact that she already did exactly that back in December.

 

Meanwhile, back in Mexico, young Ethan, now 18 years of age, languishes in a Mexican migrant holding facility pending extradition.  Why has he not already been extradited to the U.S.?  Because his attorney argues that extraditing him, or “kicking him out of Mexico” would violate his rights, since he hasn’t committed any crime in Mexico.  As a result, Couch’s return to the U.S. will take a minimum of two weeks and could take as long as several months.  The matter now apparently rests in the hands of the Mexican immigration court.  His attorney has announced that he will appeal any unfavorable decision, in which case the process could be lengthy, if not interminable.  Meanwhile, what about the rights of Kevin McConnell whose 12-year-old son, Lucas was one of nine people injured by Mr. Couch?  Or what about the rights of Eric Boyles, whose wife and daughter were both killed by Mr. Couch?  Who has the greater right here, the criminal or the victim?

 

Now, I don’t understand the concept that he should not be deported from Mexico because he “hasn’t committed any crime in Mexico”.  Let us think about this for just a minute.  First, the U.S. does, in fact, have an extradition treaty with Mexico that was signed on 13 November 1997 and entered into force on 21 May 2001. Surely, I thought, this means that Mexico is obligated to return this young man to the U.S. to stand trial.  But then, as I was researching the topic (yes, I do actually research before I make a statement), I discovered that most extradition treaties actually have a requirement of “dual-criminality” … in other words, the person must be found to have committed a crime in both countries!  Upon learning of this, my first thought was “how utterly ridiculous!”  But then, I tried thinking of it in some hypothetical cases completely apart from the Couch case, and I realized that simple extradition based solely on the request of one country could certainly lead to crimes against humanity and human rights abuses.

 

So, I have another idea.  Consider the following.  After the end of WWII, Adolph Eichmann, one of the most notorious Nazi SS officers and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust, fled to Argentina using a false passport under the name of Ricardo Klement.  Many, including famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, dedicated themselves to finding Eichmann, as well as other former Nazis.  Long story short, eventually they discovered that he was living comfortably with his family in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Argentina had a long history of denying extradition requests for Nazis, so in 1960, Mossad, Israel’s famed intelligence agency, simply kidnapped Eichmann and smuggled him out of the country, to later be tried and executed.  Okay, there is a bit of a difference between Eichmann and Couch, and I’m not suggesting execution for this stupid and misguided young man, but I am suggesting that if Mexico refuses to extradite within a reasonable amount of time, say ten days or two weeks, CIA agents be dispatched to kidnap him and bring him to the U.S. to face the music.

 

And some music it will be, as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) are circulating a petition demanding that Couch’s case be moved to adult court.  I am not sure what the protocols and precedents for such an action are, and that is research best left to the experts.  But what I do know is that MADD has historically had significant influence and has been successful in the enactment of more than 1,000 new laws since their founding in 1980.

 

The wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, but turn they do.  I strongly suspect that Tonya Couch will ultimately plead that she is not responsible for her actions due to some mental illness and be let off with a minimum sentence, possibly only probation, although by law she could receive up to a ten-year prison sentence.  And I think that eventually Ethan Couch will be returned to the U.S.  I cannot predict whether he will be transferred to adult court, but I certainly hope he is.  I think it will be years before this matter is fully resolved and that even then most of us will believe it wasn’t enough.  I only hope that there will never again be a case where a person is not brought to justice based solely on the fact of being too wealthy to understand social and moral responsibility.

The New 1% Disease

There’s a new disease on the block, and apparently it is highly lethal, particularly for those who come in contact with a carrier of this disease.  The bad news is that those who suffer from it are not likely to be cured any time soon.  The good news is that most of us (99%) stand absolutely no chance of catching it.  Not Ebola, not HIV, but a disease called “Affluenza”.  Okay, I see the eyeroll and I see that you think I am making this up, but trust me, although the American Medical Association (AMA) has not yet recognized this disease, nor has the World Health Organization (WHO), the courts of the United States do recognize this disease as a legal defense for almost anything, including murder.  The following news article in the New York Times caught my eye this morning:

 

“Two years ago, a Texas teenager who killed four people in a drunken-driving crash was given probation after a defense witness suggested he suffered from “affluenza,” a term used to describe psychological problems that can afflict children from wealthy families.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/17/us/ethan-couch-missing-texas-affluenza-case.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=1#story-continues-2

 

Unless you happen to be in the top 1% on the wealth spectrum, your reaction is likely similar to the one I had … disbelief, anger, disbelief, fury, and more disbelief.  I re-checked the source … yep, The New York Times, not The Onion.  So I went in search of … and here is just a sampling of the definitions I found for this affliction:

  • “a portmanteau of affluence and influenza, is a term used by critics of consumerism. The 2001 book Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic defines it as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.” The term “affluenza” has also been used to refer to an inability to understand the consequences of one’s actions because of financial privilege … “ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluenza
  • the unhealthy and unwelcome psychological and social effects of affluence regarded especially as a widespread societal problem: such as a :  feelings of guilt, lack of motivation, and social isolation experienced by wealthy b :  extreme materialism and consumerism associated with the pursuit of wealth and success and resulting in a life of chronic dissatisfaction, debt, overwork, stress, and impaired relationships <Affluenza is particularly rampant in the United States, where we place a high priority on financial success and material possessions. — David Hawkins, Breaking Everyday Addictions, 2008>   http://beta.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/affluenza
  • A social condition arising from the desire to be more wealthy, successful or to “keep up with the Joneses”. Affluenza is symptomatic of a culture that holds up financial success as one of the highest achievements. People said to be affected by affluenza typically find that the very economic success they have been so vigorously chasing ends up leaving them feeling unfulfilled, and wishing for yet more wealth. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/affluenza.asp

 

Awwwww … I feel so sorry for the wealthy now, don’t you?

In the above case, the afflicted teen first stole two cases of beer from a store, then stole his father’s pickup truck, then with seven passengers in tow, driving 70mph in a 40mph zone, crashed into an SUV and a Volkswagen, killing four people.  Ethan and all seven of his passengers, none of whom were wearing seat belts, walked away from the crash.  Eric Boyles, whose wife and daughter were killed in the crash, said, “Had he not had money to have the defense there, to also have the experts testify, and also offer to pay for the treatment, I think the results would have been different.”  No doubt, Mr. Boyles, no doubt.

 

I am not one to mock or deny mental illness.  I have very good friends who suffer from various ailments, and while I don’t claim to understand, I accept that they are very real illnesses and I have compassion and empathy.  I draw the line here, though.  I do not accept that “affluenza” is a real illness!  A better name for this so-called affliction, I believe, would be SBS … Spoiled Brat Syndrome … and the cure should be enforced living in a homeless shelter with no contact from family or friends for a period of no less than two years.

 

This is the “disease” that republicans are fighting to propagate!  I have never been financially wealthy, am not presently financially wealthy, nor will I ever be financially wealthy, and I am GLAD!  I am wealthy in the ways that matter … I have a wonderful and supportive family, I have a roof over my head, healthy food on my table and am able to pay my bills so I can have heat in the winter.  I worked hard all my life to have what little I have, and for me, it has always been enough.  Trump, Romney and their cohorts can keep the wealth if it only leads to “affluenza”.  I will gladly continue to live my life of relative poverty, taking responsibility for my own actions, taking joy in small things like a warm cat in my lap, a chat with good friends, a hug …