What should you do with a million dollars in Vietnam?

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Purchase a Ferrari or a Bugatti Veyron supercar?

Spend all the money on food and wine?

Have Vietnamese famous singers Dam Vinh Hung or Quang Le come to your house to sing you a song or two?

Or how about throw a lavish wedding for a family member?

No.

Of course you wouldn’t.

You’re smarter than that.

But there are those who would and do.

The news in Vietnam has been filled with recent articles of Vietnamese who elaborately display their wealth right in the face of the less fortunate.

What are we, the general public, to think of the super rich as we look at the world around us and find poverty and disease and a shortage of food for the billions who find it difficult to live in peace?

When I worked for a bank in America, we were trained to listen to customers and then classify them into specific categories.

Some people were placed into the group under ‘Convenience,’ since time was the most important to them.

Others, the wealthier class, were classified under the label ‘Status’:

They cared more about how they looked to others than they cared about money or the value of loyalty or time.

What, then, would you do with a million dollars?

Which category would you fall under?

Over the years I have often asked my students these questions.

Most reasonable people will tell you they would buy some land and build a house for their family, or pay off old debts, or put it towards a good education for themselves or others, or use the money to benefit society as a whole.

The value of loyalty is often given as the purpose behind behavior and I can respect these kinds of decisions from my students.

Education, good health (both in mind and body), and a decent home are necessities anyone can respect spending large amounts of money on.

To waste money on a wedding, or one night of fun, or a supercar (a very impractical decision, by the way, because of all the traffic in Vietnam) will never make any sense to me.

And it certainly didn’t make sense to my Vietnamese students at an international university.

“They are crazy,” one bright student said, “They don’t know what to spend the money on.”

“Stupid,” another student added.

“It’s the best way for them to promote their image.”

A third student, out of the many who provided similar comments, stated quite simply,

“Show off. Stupid.

Waste of money.”

Yes.

Yes.

And Yes.

It does not take a genius to see that there is an ever growing separation between the poor and the rich in Vietnam, and all over the world.

And the divide keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Showing wealth is ever popular in South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

Two years ago, in South Korea, actor Jang Dong Gun married Go So Young, sharing at night in a Presidential suite costing US$8000 (VND 166 million) for one night, and a grand total of approximately US$1.2 million (VND 24.9 billion) for the entire wedding.

In 2005, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher married (true love?) and had an expensive wedding.

Their marriage is now at an end.

The plague of spending money like water has more to do with personal values than culture or nationality.

It is a global disease.

Throughout history there has always been a gap between social classes, but when it became too wide and the poor couldn’t take their situation anymore it inevitably led to protests and then to revolution.

Just take a look at the Occupy Movement sweeping the globe.

These are the poor and the middle class taking a stand and voicing their spite towards the 1% who maintain the wealth.

I, for one, do not believe in shouting or violence.

I would simply audit these wealthy people and their companies.

In all likelihood, discrepancies in finances will be found.

Again, there are multiple examples in the last decade where this has happened.

A recent example is of Dieu Hien, who held a luxurious wedding in Can Tho City for her son, even though a lawsuit is being filed against the magnate because Hien’s company still owes USD12 million  (VND 250 billion) to local farmers.

The rich are as foolish with their money as they are with keeping accurate financial records.

In other words, these people need humility and a close eye on their affairs.

If they want to throw a lavish party, that is their choice, but they should pay all their debts before doing so.

But unlike the lower class, the rich often pay their debts last or not at all

(I have read this statement in several ‘How to Be Successful’ books, and I do not agree).

In addition to being a lecturer, I am also a small business owner in Vietnam.

The estimated cost to start my company, a childcare and kindergarten, came to roughly US$20,000 usd (roughly VND 400 million).

And that was for one school that can add value to a hundred students and to the community and to help families in my Binh Chanh neighborhood where I have lived for the past four years.

Our school’s profit is usually reinvested in order to expand and provide better quality.

Now imagine how many schools, universities, libraries, hospitals, and charities could have been created with all that money that was carefully chosen and wasted on a passion, a lust, a fleeting moment.

Henry David Thoreau said it best:

“Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.”

But it is required to feed and educate and care for the people.

Therefore, my advice to the super rich in Vietnam:

The next time you want to spend a million dollars on anything, go to the poorest section of the city.

Get out of your fancy car.

And take a long, hard look at the people and children around you.

These are the things that truly matter.

These are the things we remember when we take our last breath.

 

By C G FEWSTON

Source: Tuoi Tre Online

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