Phil Garber
4 min readMar 20, 2021



Show Me The Do, Re, Mi

What exactly would it be like to be rich, what would it look like and how would it feel, what would it smell like, how would it sound, I mean to be really, really filthy rich, not one of the 18.6 million run of the mill millionaires in the U.S. but one of those rare billionaires, of which there are 2,153 worldwide and the United States has the most with 609?

Not that I will ever get there, at least not in this life, but what if I could splurge and not know I’m even splurging, if I could buy anything, go anywhere, live anywhere and not ever have to even look at my bank accounts? I have very plebeian tastes and I am just a hopeless lower middle class schnook with hopelessly, lower middle class values.

I would have my teeth fixed and buy a new battery for my Honda Civic so that I didn’t have to use that nifty, portable jump starter gizmo all the time; I’d get many pairs of socks and throw out the pairs with holes immediately; I would get a closet filled with disposable protective masks and blithely toss them in the trash after using them just once; I would buy expensive craft beer brewed in Cape May; I would have the toilet fixed so it didn’t run all the time; I would get a 4G (5G?) phone; I would get season tickets to the Somerset Patriots games; I would have somebody put up an above ground pool in the backyard; I would buy a new motorcycle, possibly a Moto Guzzi; I would send some money to my brother and sister and to my niece and her husband and their children; I would buy and distribute sweaters to homeless or just plain poor people in Warren County; I would fund expanded mental health services and generally services for people with developmental or other kinds of disabilities; I would buy more flannel shirts; I would go on fishing boats more often; I would take the family to Scotland and maybe after that, to Finland; I would buy two or three paintings by famous artists and would allow people to come in my house and look at the paintings; I would buy all the houses in the neighborhood and give them back to everybody so they wouldn’t have to pay monthly mortgages; I would buy new cars for all of my neighbors and have them secretly left in their driveways; I would buy a motor home and tour the northwestern states; I would get new underwear regularly; I would buy a subscription to the New Yorker; I would buy meat that is at least 90 percent fat free; I would put solar panels on my roof; I would buy a small plane and then give it to somebody; I would buy a telescope; I would buy my wife, son and daughter anything the wanted; I would have the driveway repaved.

Bill Gates has a $124 million mansion with an indoor trampoline room and he bought a Michelangelo manuscript, known as the Codex Leicester, for $30.8 million and he owns a private beach with sand flown in from St. Lucia. The Sultan of Brunei has 2,500 exotic cars and pays his barber $24,000 a hair cut. Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal purchased a diamond encrusted Mercedes for $4.8 million and Mukesh Ambani has a 40-story skyscraper with three helipads which he bought for $1 billion.

But there are certain things that money can’t buy or fix, even if you are Elon Musk who is now worth about $182 billion, having nudged ahead of last year’s wealthiest, Jeff Bezos, whose financial value is just $181 billion in 2021.

Regardless of their wealth, Even Elon Musk must get a colonoscopy and must prep the night before just like you and me; even Jeff Bezos will get wrinkles and grey hair and very possibly a paunch; even Mark Zuckerberg isn’t always regular and must feel terribly bloated and uncomfortable; even Bill Gates has nightmares where he’s lost and can’t find his way home; even the Sultan of Brunei gets migraine headaches that drive him mad; even Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal starts losing his memory and can’t recall where he put things; even Mukesh Ambani mourns losses of parents and children and friends and doesn’t have a clue about why he lives and someone else dies. And there is always the great equalizer, the Grim Reaper, the Angel of Death, and the worms will eat you regardless of whether you’re name is Musk or not.

So the $64 million question is would I be happy with that extra $64 million and the answer is I should move to Finland because for the fourth straight year, the Scandinavian country has been crowned the happiest country in the world by the United Nations 2021 World Happiness Report, while the U.S. came in a sorry, 14th, up from 18th at last year’s rankings.

Finland had six billionaires and the U.S. had 614, more than any other country on earth, so it would seem that happiness is not directly linked to wealth. If you’re interested, Forbes put China in second place with 389 billionaires, rounding out the top 10 with Germany (107), India (102), Russia (99), Hong Kong , 66; Brazil and United Kingdom tied with 45 each; Canada (44); France (39); and Italy (36).

By the way, Nepal, Portugal, Morocco, Oman, Belgium, Venezuela, Algeria, Angola, Eswatini (Swaziland), Georgia, the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macau, Kuwait, Tanzania and Zimbabwe each had one billionaire.

So if money can’t buy happiness, you’d think the people of Zimbabwe would be right up there with Finland on the happiness scale. Zimbabwe, however, didn’t even crack the top 20 happiest.



Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer