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What Billionaires Don’t Have

This week’s New Yorker magazine–a staff favorite minus one vocal holdout–contains a snappy little elegy by Kurt Vonnegut about the writer Jospeh Heller, author of the classic book Catch-22 and who died in 1999. I’m normally not a big poetry fan, but sitting on a city bus this morning, surrounded by stretch limos and chauffeured Mercedes’ hauling their respective masters of the universe off for another day of obscene money making, I got a kick out of these lines (which I’m reproducing in whole, much to the nail-biting chagrin, I’m sure, of our hardworking legal department):

JOE HELLER

True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer,
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in peace!

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