Sidebar on Extreme Wealth Planning - Insert in "Audrey Saves the World"

The field of what might be called "Extreme Wealth Planning" (for so called "flourishing families" with net worth in the hundreds of millions and up) is evolving from narrow but deep technical expertise, to humane learning as guidance system for advanced planning teams, or family offices, or multi-family offices. The new thought leaders have degrees, often in law or finance, but resting upon undergraduate and graduate degrees in fields like history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and often divinity. Me, too. So it takes one to know one, and it takes one to call us out for what we are and for the dangers we are running. Be it said, I am drunkard, a coward, and an opportunist. Whatever gifts God has given me I have squandered. I would rather be wealthy than wise, and what am I now but broke and insane? Take my views below not as those of the Omniscient Narrator, that is a sorry joke, but as the wretched man in the dumpster. Diogenes with a hangover.

We are not the first society with concentrated wealth and an inner circle of gentlemen and ladies who advise it. Roman satire, English Augustan satire, the plays of Shakespeare, the vanitas tradtion in poetry and sermon, Castiglione's Book of the Courtier, Boethius, Dante's Inferno, Gogol's Dead Souls, the plays and stories of Chekkov, the paintings of Goya, all go the corruption of spirituality and humanity in service to great wealth. As we enter this field of forces offering up our learning, divinity degrees, therapy degrees, philosophy degrees, lit crit degrees, and ability as teachers, preachers, therapists, moral mentors, secular priests, and shamans, we should recognize the moral dangers. Shaman as Charlatan. Service to God and Mammon as simony, the mortal sin of selling holy things. We come also to the question of unconscious incompetence. We come to the question of professional standards. We come to the question of ego enlargement, grandiosity, and narcissism. We come to the question of credulity. We come to the questions taste, good and bad. We do not have the professional venues, nor standards, in which we call each other out, without giving offense. This bodes ill for the emerging field of humane wealth planning. The core virtue is humility. The first principal is "to do no harm." The best of cures for what ails us, the plague of ego inflation, is laughter. At ourselves first and foremost. We are on a Fool's errand and the funny part is how seriously we go about it, pending our pratfall.

I am very sorry I wrote that. I am sorry it even occurred to me.  I am going to be even more sorry, when I hit "Publish Now." I know I need help. Everyone tells me so. All the free advice a man could want. But will any of you, the virtuous and wise, with a billing rate of $5,000-10,000 a day, take the time to heal my soul, for free? I guess healing the rich is probably more highly leveraged, and could do more good. Every market clears at a price. And on the margins the trash piles up. Forgive me. I am not having a good day. Strong meds, alcohol and despair don't mix. I wish I had read less as a young man, or been less susceptible to it. Bits keep coming to mind, the voices of so many authors, and the muses, too, I think, or the fates, or the harpies, and they have driven me mad, I fear.


The Giving Way to Happiness: Stories and Science Behind the Life-Changing Power of Giving

For both advisors and donors, Jenny Santi, CAP, has written an eloquent, informed, and empathetic account of giving. Her focus is very wealthy donors, including hedge fund managers, high tech leaders, and celebrities, but she is not focused on wealth, nor on the management of it. She is focused on joy, or fulfillment. Working in this odd niche (philanthropy around the globe), starting young, she has observed the many ways that giving is a balm for old wounds, or antidote to depression, or a cure for the blahs of having all needs met. Where other talk about results, or the tools and techniques of giving, Jenny has research the psychology of happiness, altruism, kindness and care. Yet, I suspect, she saw in donors that joy, before she began to research the neuroscience. Where many are awed by wealth or obsequious to it, Jenny is almost like philanthropy-fan, who just loves the whole topic. Her informants have opened up to her, it seems, because she has entered imaginatively into their world, seeing them as they see themselves, as agents for the good. The final chapter, "Your Turn: The Action Plan for Happy Giving,"  is my favorite. Jenny begins that chapter with a list of the frustrations many givers feel, when a gift does not mesh with their passion, aspirations, family traditions, moral identity, and life history. Then, in the closing pages she more or less blurts out the best short list of pointers I have seen on creating a heartfelt, compassionate, effective and satisfying giving plan. Certain points are ones I have not heard before, "Find your Tribe," for example, and "Accept Gratitude." Jenny's credentials and experience (as banker and now and independent philanthropic consultant) are stellar, but what comes across is her humanity. (She has taken the credential I teach, Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy, and I am proud of it. The best part of being a teacher is when the student becomes the teacher's teacher.) An excellent book to learn from, if you are a donor, and a fine book for financial advisors to pass on to clients, to help them think through their own philanthropy.


Auditing Audrey's Worth as a Person

Well, Master Jack is not in the Dungeon for using the B-Word, but he is not exactly in Momma's good graces, either.  He is in a grown up version of a "time out," confined to his quarters, as most Trusted Advisor, above the Buttery. Tutor, as Interim Morals Tutor, has been studying  Family Wealth, a classic Text for Advisors to Uber-Wealth, to help keep Audrey in the chips, and her heirs, too, for at least 100 years, a basic hurdle for any dynasty, and far less than her predecessor in the Old Castle, whose family went back to before the time of Shakespeare.

To preserve Dynasty wealth must serve the Family' excellences or virtues. Otherwise Wealth will be squandered. The first step, then, in preserving Momma's Dynasty is an Audit of Audrey's Four Capitals. Tutor goes to the Easel with the Flip Pad. Audrey, under the terms of her plea bargain, after the Annie Oakley incident, is condemned to one hour a week of these Morals Tutorials, from a "qualified moral authority," who better than The Happy Tutor, an ordained Monk, and good friend of Rabelais and Friar Tuck, too, for that matter, if you go back far enough.

"Ready, Pumpkin? I have to find out what you are really worth so I can help you become an even bigger asset to your family than you already are. We can do that either by increasing your Worth, or decreasing your Liabilities. Got that?"

Audrey has learned a new trick, "boinking." She may have learned it from the seditious Selma, the kid from the kitchens. Anyway, to "boink," Audrey opens her jaw wide, and uses her knuckles to boink the top of her skull, producing a hollow reverberation, as if a coconut were emptied of milk, then tapped, boink, boink.

To signal her comprehension of the Learning Objectives, Audrey boinks her empty noggin.

"So, Audrey, first we have your Financial Capital. What do you own at this point?"

Audrey has the remainder of her allowance, $8 in small grubby bills, and her lucky penny. She owes no one anything so that is a net amount. Tutor makes a T-Chart entry accordingly.

"But Audrey is Wealth your only Capital? Do you have more assets than just money?"

"Boink boink" Audrey goes,  shaking her head.  

"No, no, no, kid, you have other Capitals, too. Like you have Social Capital. Remember when Momma had the all the Presidential Candidates come to the Castle and do a debate to entertain Master Jack and his friends, who pitched pennies and made them dance? That is her social capital. Her connections. How she gets things done. And she has much more. Everyone wants to trade favors with Momma. And she is a patron of the Arts, she gets the best singers and dancers, and clowns to entertain us. Well, that might be artistic capital, but I am keeping this simple, because you are just a kid. What is your social capital? Do you have any?"

Audrey stares empty faced like a girl whose brains have been emptied from her skull.

"Listen, you have Rex? Right?"

"Boink."

"And Momma?"

"Boink"

"And me?"

"Boink?"

"Anyone else?"

"Boink, Boink"

"Is it someone I know?"

"Boink"

"Master Jack?"

Silence, catatonic stare.

"Is it a grown up?"

Silence

"A kid?

"Boink."

"Is it Selma?"

"Boink, boink, boink."

"So, you have social capital. Does anyone hate you?"

"Boink"

"Master Jack?"

"Boink, Boink"

"Well he is just mad because you got him in trouble on purpose with Momma. He will get over it. So, let us say you have net positive social capital. Now we come to your Intellectual Capital. Do you know anything at all?

"Boink,"

"Well it sure sounds empty, so let us agree that your Intellectual Capital is zero. I mean you probably know some stuff that is true and some that is not. So let's call it even, shall we?

"Boink, Boink,"

"So now we must assess your spiritual capital, ok? Do you know right from wrong? Sort of? How about the Ten Commandments? Do you like any of them? Love Momma? God? How about coveting? Are you ever greedy? No? How about Owning the Whole World, isn't that greedy?"

"No! Tutor," says Audrey, rubbing her sore skull, "I don't want to own the world to be greedy. I want to own it so I can rule it and save it, like I saved Rex, right boy?"

Tutor looks at the clock. Officially, she has 52 minutes left in the Punitive Hour, but he is out of moral-sounding ideas. So, he teaches her the basics of poker. At the end of the hour, she is up from $8 dollars to $11. Gaming might be considered a vice, but it is a pretty good business too, for a kid who wants to own, rule, and save the world as it really is.


Lost and Found

Where is Audrey? The hope of the world, a menace to herself and others, has disappeared. Has she once again commandeered a boat and gone to IHOP on the mainland? Has she drowned in the sea? Could she be all the way down in dungeons, so dark and dank? Could she have been kidnapped? Is she being held for ransom? The Security Team, formerly Seal Team 7, are scrambled on air and sea, and beneath the sea.

Where is Audrey? Rex, if only he were a bloodhound. Well, at least he is a dog. Tutor gives Fred, the bedraggled purple monster,  to Rex to put him on the scent. Rex, proud of his role as potential rescuer, sniff and hunts, up and down the stairs, catching the scent. Down, they go, he and Tutor, down the winding stairs from the Royal Quarters, down to the classroom and Chapel level, down to the Esteemed Guest Quarters, down to the Great Hall level adjacent to the Library and Trophy Room, down to the Kitchens, then down to the Servant's Quarters, then down to the upper dungeon level, and Tutor's cell, then lower, lower, into the darkness, far below sea level, where Tutor thought he could hear screams, but it was just his bad conscience, and the memory of "Tutorials" for the disloyal and the wicked long dead. Then up the staircase, Rex leading and straining on his leash, on the scent..... into the kitchen. Tutor thinks he spies Audrey from a distance, standing up straight, her back against the broom closest. But no, it is not Audrey at all. A girl her age and size to be sure, but not Audrey. This other kid has brown skin, black hair, and big dark eyes. That is Selma, the daughter of the cook's assistant, Luciana. Does Selma know where Audrey is? She shakes her head, no. She does not. For sure? No. But Rex is going wild sniffing, and scratching at the broom closet, pawing on his hind legs, yelping, tail wagging furiously. "Selma, is Audrey hiding in there?" "No," Selma lies. "She is not." But when the closet is opened, who is there standing up tall, but Audrey herself. "I missed you, too, Rex." Reunion is the sweetest affirmation of self.  To be gone and to come back. The Prodigal Kid has returned, though as Wise Master Jack points out, a good kid would never have hidden herself in the first place, putting the whole Security Team into high alert, at considerable cost to the Exchequer.

"Don't send me back to the middle class!, O please, not the middle class, O please!" pleads Audrey.  Now this time, it is Wise Master Jack who loses it, and shouts, "You ungrateful little bitch....." And, Momma hears the "B-Word," and now it is Master Jack on his knees begging not to have to return to the Middle Class, as Audrey snickers and dances with glee.


The Most Bedraggeld of Stuffed Animals

Purple, not quite clear what kid of animal, fur dirty, stringy and greasy - Where did the stuffed animal come from, clutched by Audrey at bedtime, her lovely expensive toys neglected? Why is this filthy purple monster her new favorite, to accompany her everywhere? A mystery that must remain a mystery, because Audrey is not telling. "Did you find it outside the Castle somewhere?," Tutor asks. She shakes her head, no. "Did someone give it to you?" She just looks, face stony, toy clutched. "What is the animal's name?" Long pause. "Fred." "Do you think Fred needs a bath?" Momma from her easy chair says, "Fred needs more than a bath, he needs fumigation. Where did you ever find Fred?" But no intel is forthcoming. Secrets make a self. Even a kid gets to have some. So, Fred joins Rex, two of kind, as guardians at the top (Fred) and bottom (Rex) of Audrey's bed.


Strange kid in Paradise

 A lot has been happening in the Castle by the Sea, so I will just fill you in with a few quick notes. For one, Tutor found Audrey in tears, not of grief, but of rage yesterday, about 4 pm. She had been having her Mandatory Morals Tutorial with Wise Master Jack, SVP of the Private Client Services, on loan from The Wealth and Wisdom Division of The Bank of Wealth Bondage. (Audrey was sentenced in Juvenile Court to "Morals Tutorials weekly from a person of impeccable probity," after the Annie Oakley incident at her school, as an alternative to detention in a reform school.) Master Jack had her write The Family Values on the Blackboard over and over. "Own Rule Save." After about three iterations, Audrey blew up and said, "When I own and rule the world, I am going to save it," then she pointed at him imperiously, "from assholes like you!" Wise Master Jack said that if she keeps that up he is going to have her deported back to the middle class," where the lost girls like her belong.

Tutor asked her why she is so mad. She said, "Because Master Jack made me mad. That makes me mad at me. I want to make him mad so he has to go back to the middle class. Tutor, what is the middle class? What happens to kids there? Do I have to go back? Will Momma come, too? I don't want to go back to the middle class. I want to stay here in the Castle with you, Momma, and Rex."

Tutor assures her that with net worth of 51% of the world's assets, to be held in Trust at the Fiduciary Services Division of  The Bank of Wealth Bondage until the Trump of Doom, there is zero chance she will spend even one moment of her life in the middle class. "Don't worry about it, kid;  the Master Jacks of this world come and go. Vast wealth is eternal. You can buy all the wisdom you need, Pumpkin, now you have an allowance. How much wisdom do you want?" Audrey snuggles into Tutor's lap. "I got my lucky penny, would that be enough?" "That is more than enough, kid, now give it here, and I will sing you a song that Rabelais, the Court Physician, taught me years ago in this very Castle by the Sea. It has some bad language, though, so don't tell Momma I taught it to you, ok? Well it should be ok, because it is in Greek. Keep the penny. This song is priceless...." And he began to sing this drinking song from the old days. (As you can easily see, it does not contain bad language, though it does reference pagan gods.)

Ζεὺς μὲν τῆσδε πόληος ὑπειρέχοι αἰθέρι ναίων
  αἰεὶ δεξιτέρην χεῖρ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἀπημοσύνῃ,
ἄλλοι τ᾽ ἀθάνατοι μάκαρες θεοί· αὐτὰρ Ἀπόλλων
  ὀρθώσαι γλῶσσαν καὶ νόον ἡμέτερον·    760
φόρμιγξ δ᾽ αὖ φθέγγοιθ᾽ ἱερὸν μέλος ἠδὲ καὶ αὐλός·
  ἡμεῖς δὲ σπονδὰς θεοῖσιν ἀρεσσάμενοι
πίνωμεν, χαρίεντα μετ᾽ ἀλλήλοισι λέγοντες,
  μηδὲν τὸν Μήδων δειδιότες πόλεμον.
ὧδ᾽ εἶναι ἄμεινον, ἐύφρονα θυμὸν ἔχοντας    765
  νόσφι μεριμνάων εὐφροσύνως διάγειν
τερπομένους· τηλοῦ δὲ κακὰς ἀπὸ κῆρας ἀμῦναι,
  γῆράς τ᾽ οὐλόμενον καὶ θανάτοιο τέλος.


Vulcan Mind Meld (For Audrey's Standardized Testing)

Audrey had been “tested” by Master Jack who was her Home Schooling Teacher after the Annie Oakley incident at 4th grad prep school, leading to Audrey being expelled, and just avoiding the Terror Watch List. No school will have her now. Master Jack, before Tutor got to the Castle, had given her age appropriate standardized English and Math tests, of 100 questions, multiple choice, four possible answers per question. On English she got a score of 1 out of 100. The lowest score on record worldwide. On math she managed a 0 out of 100, on the multiple guess format, for the Advanced Placement. Jack has told Tess she is, technically speaking, a “high functioning idiot.” She cannot be taught. All help is remedial. How sad that a math genius like Tess has a math-idiot for a child! Master Jack will Prepare the Heir, which is his job and calling, but allowances must be made for Audrey's mental deficiencies. Jack can only do so much.

Tutor tells Tess he can “fix” Audrey's brain within the hour, in fact within the next few minutes. Asked how, he says, “Vulcan mind meld.” Derision greets him from Jack. Tess assumes he is playing the Fool, as is his wont.  So, to show seriousness, Tutor bets Master Jack one month of their respective stipends ($15,000 a month honorarium for Jack as Most Trusted Advisor, Secular Priest, and Mentor to Heir vs. Tutor’s monthly stipend of $100, as Catholic Friar in Residence, World class Fool, and Surrogate Dad) that Audrey will, after a mind meld, score in the top 1% in the world for test takers her age. Jack to proctor and grade. All fair and square. Game on!

Tutor then absents himself and joins Audrey in her room. Master Jack is her “Mentor” and nemesis. There is little she would not do to frustrate him. (“He calls me Princess, don’t ever, ever do that! You can call me Pumpkin if you have to, but not Princess, ok? Promise?”) So, Tutor explains the bet and whispers to her how the Vulcan Mind Meld works. High fives!

Momma and Jack enter for the moment of truth, Jack with two tests in cellophane and one number 2 pencil, and his gold pocket watch. (He is old school.) Tutor bends his head down, down towards Audrey's red haired skull. When he touches her skull with the tip of his grey head, an enormous charge must have leapt between them like a spark, given how Audrey twitches, writhes and dances about, totally stunned, groaning and swooning like someone healed of a brain tumor at an old time revival. Then she sits down, holding her lap-desk, a melamine top attached to a green beanbag. Her feet, are outstretched. Tutor, to maintain the massive electric current, sits with his big feet touching hers.

Jack, scowling like The Evaluator he is, provides the math test, cautioning Audrey not to break the seal until so instructed. She has two hours. Any questions? None, it seems. “You may now break the seal.” Audrey does. Removes the wrapper, and does nothing, She just sits there. Then Tutor feels her left foot pressing on his right foot, like an accelerator, pedal to the metal. The kid becomes a blur of intensity. Eyes slitted, hand zipping along, tongue protruding, like when Rex chases a tennis ball. She is bubbling in answers faster than you can see, no thought, none, must be totally random. In four minutes, finished. “Done, Sir!,” she says in her best Shirley Temple voice. Another day, another mockery made of authority. But it is her future, if she wants to throw it all away. Jack sniffs and shakes his head sadly at Momma, as if to say, “I told you she was intransigent.”

Then the scene repeats with the English test.

Finished Audrey assumes her “ready for fun or trouble” pose, crouching down with her bottom below her knees, front paws raised. From this pose she can be a rabbit bouncing, or she can crook elbows and waddle like a duck. She waits, pistoning up and down, for her exam results,  as Master Jack applies the stencil. “My God!,” he exclaims, “She got a 99 on the English test.” Audrey goes rabbit mode, bouncing up and down the room so fast. Then Master Jack exclaims, “No! She got a 100 on the math.” These are the highest scores in human history. Audrey enters  duck mode, waddling up and down in front of Master Jack, who loses all control and chases her from the room, shouting, “You little jerk! You sandbagged me…. A month’s salary…. I am going to take it out of your hide…..”

Tess looks at Tutor. “Mind-meld?” “Yes, Madame, your daughter has already taught me a lot.”


Why Has a Just and Loving God Allowed the Rich to Bear it all Away, with our Help as Trusted Advisors?

The Happy Tutor is definitely "old school," having descended from nobles, going back to the Dark Ages, and before that in Rome. He has served the wealthiest families since at least Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, and Nero. I asked him why, as he lounged in our Dumpster, on a brief break from his work at the Castle by the Sea, why the wealthy? He said that he was put on earth to make the world better by helping families flourish. I said that sounded great and all, but Tess, our sole paying morals tutorial client,  is worth $100 billion and rapidly rising. How is helping her and her family helping the world? Why not help families struggling with between, say,  $10 and 20 billion? He said that in helping Tess, he will help Audrey own, rule, and save us all. Again that sounds good. For a confirmed monarchist, who is still pissed off about the Magna Carta, the fall of the Bourbon Kings,  and the American Revolution that might be a good and sufficient answer, and I love Audrey too, but how does it comport with Tutor being a Catholic Priest? Doesn't scripture say we will find God's face among the sick, the imprisoned, the poor? Where does it say that we serve God by serving Mammon? Tutor then told me a kind of parable. It has helped me a lot, as a wannabe secular priest, or morals tutor to the rich. Maybe if you are called to serve the uber-rich it will help you too.

"Phil," The Happy Tutor said to me, lounging naked as Diogenes, on a sack of garbage, above a composting layer of great books tossed in our dumpster by schoolchildren at the end of the first semester:

God in high heaven, the King of Kings, above the ranked hierarchy of Angels, far above Satan's serried ranks in Hell, said to the good angels, "I will station not one but two of you in the counting house where the richest of the world plan their legacies in structures designed to outlast death. One angel will stand behind the decision maker at the head of the table. The other will stand behind the most trusted advisor.  As the advisor's Guardian Angel, you will open one pregnant pause, before papers are signed. And as Guardian Angel of the decision maker, you will prolong the pause not for just one but for three beats of the heart, as the holy spirit knocks, once, twice, and one time more. Three times only. Then the spirit moves on. I have made mankind sufficient to stand, and free to fall. Neither Angel will determine the outcome. Faith, hope and charity. The greatest is love. Created in love, sustained in love, wealthy through my love.... we shall see what creatures I have birthed. Ashes to ashes. Wheat and chaff. Fruitful tree pruned. Unfruitful burned.

Tutor then pointed me, as learned as he is, to John Milton, "On his Blindness." That poem concludes, "Those also serve who only stand and wait." I guess he meant me. My three beats of the heart must have passed ages ago. The rest, when the spirit withdraws, is death in life. Which is why I drink, I guess. I wish you and your clients better.


Audrey Learns the Value of a Dollar

Even owning, ruling, and saving one creature is a lot of work and responsibility. It is also, as Audrey discovers, quite expensive. Audrey's seemingly generous allowance of $100 a month, as she now sees, is less than half the true cost of owning Rex, including kibble, toys, grooming, dental, vet, and biscuits. Today, after the fiasco of Audrey playing doggy dentist, Tutor finds her indignant, fists dancing over her head, face as red as her hair. "Momma screwed me! My own Momma! She screwed me. She knew $100 is not enough! She didn't want to pay for Rex! She wants me to pay! And then she screwed me. I am just a kid. Momma is supposed to help me!"

Out of this will come lessons for Audrey on budgeting, negotiation, and the art of the deal. Once Tutor has helped her understand her own power, see her in Joan of Arc mode, Rex sitting beside her, the plastic sword punctuating her words. "Don't worry, Rex, I will save you and your teeth! We have a plan!" And she does, too, in dignified black magic marker, on her drawing pad, with annual budget, monthly cash flow budget, with a 25% cost plus management override, half in advance, half upon completion. Total to Audrey, not $100 a month, but $200 with $300 upfront for management override. With Tutor as her Advisor, Audrey is learning important life lessons. Everything is negotiable, when you have wealth, or positional power, can make a good plan, or, as a last resort, pitch a worldclass fit.  As Wise Master Jack enacts his plan to parlay the Unified Credit Amount and Annual Exclusions and Opportunity Shifting into $5 b totally free of income and estate tax in an offshore Dynastic Trust, doubling every 7 years, Audrey will soon surpass Trump, Soros, Gates, Koch, Walton, Zuckerberg, Omidyar, or Bloomberg, as the most plausible billionaire to own, rule, and save the Free World, and all creatures, great and small. Good Queen Audrey is not the worst case scenario for a Democratic Republic 2.0.


Doggy Dentist

"Audrey," mother says, "you know that dog of yours has terrible teeth. They have never been cleaned, as far as I know. He could lose them all unless you do something about it. You know, Audrey, he is now your responsibility. He is your rescue dog, and he depends on you." Audrey with Tutor's help makes many outbound calls. Did you have any idea what doggy dental costs? Momma will maybe helicopter Rex to the vet's, but the vet wants $500 because a dog has to be anesthetized first. Audrey has $100 on her debit card, from her new allowance, minus the cost ($11.50 for the straw hat she bought for Raggedy Anne). "Rex," she tells him, "don't worry, boy, I will save you and your teeth." With diligent research she discovers a Doggy Dental Kit for vets. It has a brush that goes on your finger, a sleeve with bumps for regular brushing; a dental pick; a scraper; and dye to find the tartar. It also has pliers for extracting a tooth. The total cost is only $85 on Amazon, including shipping.

Soon Audrey is on the floor, in her faded pink corduroy pants, with the elastic waistband, kneeling by Rex, eye to eye. By her knee is the opened kit. Audrey is discussing with Rex the importance of clean teeth. She is going to save his teeth. So, open up. Rex, sadly, has not had an easy life. He dearly loves the child who saved him, and would lay down his life for her. He never leaves her side, and sleeps on her bed, her guardian and pal. He trusts Audrey. And he knows something important is being said, and cocks his head to hear better. But by her knee, a dental pick? Poor dog! Poor Audrey! You know how this ends, her right hand hooked in his collar, as she bumps down the castle stairs, the pick waving in her right hand.


Audrey's Allowance, as Befits the World's Wealthiest Minor

The subject of Audrey's allowance has come up. Wise Master Jack, the Most Trusted Advisor in all of Wealth Bondage, suggests a family gift of $5.3 million to optimize the unified credit and also $13,000 a year.  With that amount, he suggests that as Audrey's Regent cum Trust Officer, he could leverage the money through "opportunity shifting." He would start in the Caymans a clone of Tess's most profitable business. At inception, sans customers, the value of the business is $5 mil. Audrey can be gifted it tax free. Then Tess will close the business she owned, and shift the customers to the new clone. At that point. Audrey's minority interest in the clone will go from being worth only $5 mil to, say, $5 b, all free of transfer tax! And in the Caymans, free of income tax. And in a Dynastic Trust free of all taxes in perpetuity, doubling in value, Master Jack suggests, every seven years. All of which augurs well for Audrey owning the world within her lifetime, if Tess does not accomplish it during hers. To make it even better, Master Jack points out that it could be twice as tax efficient if Tess marries, giving her a second unified credit and second annual gift tax deduction to work with. As to a spouse:" Who better than Master Jack?," he soulfully inquires dropping to one knee and offering a real diamond ring (which he got on a 10 day free look from Zales).

Tutor , by contrast, suggests an allowance of $25 a month, which is $5 more than his own monthly stipend, as Priest and Morals Tutor in Residence, he having taken a vow of poverty. He also, to give Tess a choice, proposes his hand in marriage, dropping to both knees and offering her a pop top from a can of Coke. This draws a big laugh, as befits the Court Fool, just doing his main job.

Tess splits the difference between her Suitor-Advisors. She cordially rejects both marriage proposals. And she  awards Audrey $100 a month, with the proviso that Audrey assume full fiscal responsibility for Rex, her Rescue Dog.

Audrey receives the money not in cash, but in a grown-up debit card account, that she can now manage, with Tutor's help. The first $100 is paid in advance, making Audrey as rich as can be; wealth she is determined to use responsibly.

 


Where is Real Dad?

It starts happily enough: Tutor is putting his charge to bed, as her young mother, Tess, half listens from her easy chair, trading against the world on her iPad. Tutor is telling Audrey a tall tale about her toybox, a large wooden crate, as befits the world's richest child. In it she has her treasures. Raggedy Ann, puzzles, a sea shell, a robin's egg, her drawing pad, crayons and markers, and her favorite books, including Grimm's Fairy Tales, Gulliver's Travels, Winnie the Pooh, Pippi Longstockings, and an abridged version of Huck Finn. She has Halloween masks and costumes, including Annie Oakley, Thelma (from Thelma and Louise), Superwoman's cape, and her favorite, the sword and helmet of Joan of Arc. As she nestles her head, with the copper red hair, into his shoulder, Tutor is telling her that in her toybox she can go anywhere, be anyone, do anything. She likes that idea. He tells her about Pegasus, the big white horse with wings, and asks if Pegasus could pull the toybox through the air, like Santa's reindeer pull his sleigh? Tutor hears a "tsk, tsk," from Tess, and sees her smiling and shaking her head, pretending not to listen. Audrey says, "No, Silly, the crate is way too heavy." And if she and Tutor are sitting in it, as they should be, the crate would be out of balance. "What if we give the crate wings, though? Front and back?," Tutor asks. "Then we might not even need a flying horse, which is good because those are hard to find. Can you imagine wings front and back, big white wings?" She can, and tomorrow with her pad and magic markers she can draw it.

"Where will be go tonight, Audrey, and what will be do? Who will we save?," Tutor asks. Suddenly, Audrey's face collapses. Her mouth opens as if to emit a cry, but no sound comes. Her body is shaking. The eyes show an emotion that no adult has, many emotions, horror, terror, grief, abandonment, longing, love, shame, hope, and bewilderment. All mixed up. "What is it, kid? What is the matter? Use words." She says, "Real Dad, I want Real Dad." And now the tears are streaming down her cheeks. Tess stiffen in her chair, not breathing. Real Dad is the forbidden topic.

Some of you who have read along from the beginning, know why. For those joining us late, I must tell you the saddest part of our tale. I would suppress it if I could. It is not for children, and this is a kind of children's story, but more like Grimm. I don't know how much children should know about the sadness of this world. For Audrey I wish a time to grow up in a world of imagination, and love, so she can be strong enough to face down the terrors, when she inherits the world, must rule it, and must save it. But every family has dark secrets.

Real Dad can never be found. Why? Let us say, that Real Dad, the genetic material from which Audrey was formed, was crowd-sourced on the trading floor of Wealth Bondage, from 1-4 am the night Tess celebrated the largest trade ever placed, a 100 to 1 shot against the Euro, that almost broke the Banks of France, England and Spain. She was 20, little experience with men, never had had alcohol. A prodigy from birth with numbers that she hears as music, and music she hears in the mathematics of finance. She plays her flute, or now more often  a keyboard on her iPad,  and the markets answer. She hears a tune and knows how it resolves. She wins against the men, the women, and the algorithms. She is ungodly gifted, lovely, daft, and a kind of world-beating, unworldly, savant.

Her success was celebrated by top management on the evening of her massive trade, in a restaurant in "the city," there is only one "city," as you know. Three toasts with champagne, one for each course. She does not recall the third, nor the limousine, nor the after party on the trading floor. Call it a party. Call it Carnival. Call it rapine and plunder. Call it revenge of the lesser upon the greater. Call it 10%, or call it 50%, or call it 80% of human nature - yours, mine, Audrey's. If you wanted to know her father, you would need a paternity test on every male trader, each of their friends, and whomever was passing by at the corner of Wealth and Bondage on the evening of Tess's epic success. That is why Audrey and Tess live alone now, far away, in the Castle by the Sea. That is why Audrey does not know Real Dad and never will. That is why, perhaps, she is so reactive, so given to highs and lows. And - if you will allow me - that is also why the world will in fact be owned, ruled, saved by this now chaotic child. There is - so the saying goes - "no outside of Wealth Bondage," the forces of human nature in the free market system. But Audrey contains that in her genes, all of it, light and dark. Yet there is also art, and even faith, on the mother's side. What is inside what? Draw a circle. Where do you put lust, hate, greed, fear? Inside or outside the market? Inside or outside God's plan? Either way, if this kid masters herself she may yet inherit, own, rule, master, and save all of God's creation. For this is, or will be, the moral of this tale. Happy endings are endings. It is when the wheel turns again, that things get interesting. First Carnival, then Lent. And around again until the end. That is the time of the moon, tides and seasons. As for the end, it would last a long time. Some say forever. I would like to think, though, that under the closing credits, when all this becomes a movie, The End, will have a subscript: "To be continued."

I see, by way of an ending, Tutor exiled by Audrey, who is then happily married, has had a baby, and is pointing with her sword towards a setting sun, in a rising sea, as Tutor scuttles down the embankment towards a skiff tossing on the wine dark waves. It is Queen Audrey, then. Tess, on her deathbed, dying young, burned up with sleepless trading against the markets that never sleep, will have told Audrey the secret of her conception and nativity. Audrey's inheritance will be the world. As the Lord of Misrule, his job done, his charge grown and capable, Tutor must go. Audrey's hand, in that final scene, cradles her baby's bottom, in the papoose sack on Audrey's tummy. Over the closing credits to our tale, The End (to be continued), the final sound is that baby's cry. That kid will have a real Dad, a charming prince of the realm, an inheritor in his own right, so the numbers under management reach 100% plus or minus 10% of the world's wealth. But every kid needs a Silly Grownup, and maybe there is hope for the Happy Tutor, too. He will only live as long as one kid knows his name, and loves him back.

But now is the moment in our story when Tess stiffens in her chair, her heart beating fast as if in panic (that word comes, by the way, from the Great God Pan, the god of rapine, plunder, and the panic of the stricken driven by the sword, the energy of mobs, like on the internet today). Tess has no way out and no way forward. The kid is imploding.  Tutor is alone at the axle of the world where it pivots on one tiny jewel. To Audrey he says, "Listen, listen to me, kid. We don't know where real Dad is. But he is out there somewhere, right? When you save the world, as you will, you will save Real Dad, too." Audrey comes back to our world from the underworld. "But what if he is dead?" "Then he is in heaven, kid, with the angels. When you save the world, all of Gods creation, the angels are going to wave their wings, forward and back, as if clapping, and Real Dad will see them, and see you, and he will be so proud." "Real Dad will be so proud of me....." And with that Audrey falls into slumber, with a half smile, lips open, her breathing evening out, and the world is saved, once again, for this one night. Yet there is more. When Tutor says the angels will wave their wings as if applauding, there is music as if from heaven in that room, Tess is humming, not singing, a requiem of her own devising. The music of the spheres. Requiem, love song, lullaby.  Tutor has never heard anything so beautiful, and the kid nods off on cue, to her mother's angelic voice. Love and hope. Faith, too. Fragility. A vulnerable creature nurtured and tended as all things go sliding under the moon.

The music concludes, resolves, as Audrey nods off. In the silence, broken only by the sound of waves against the Castle walls, Audrey's breathing becomes deep and regular.  Tutor gently extracts himself from his charge's embrace. He carefully jackknifes his lanky frame from the bed. Tess is on her iPad. She does not look up. As he passes her chair, her left arm comes up, elbow on the chair's arm. Her hand is raised. Tutor clasps it as he walks past, as runners in a relay might touch in passing a baton. "Well done," she says to her employee, her Dad for Hire. The Lord of Misrule, the errant Priest and Morals Tutor the the World's Wealthiest. "Thank you, Milady," he says as his fingers leave hers. She looks up. "Really, thank you." "You are welcome," he says, headed out of the room. "Do you want the door open or closed?" "Open," she says.

Tutor is headed back down the stairs to his cell, not far from the fragrant kitchens, one floor below, several above the dungeons where, historically, he has done his best work. The cell is monastic, all stone, and cold as the sea water that leaves a sheen on the walls, as it seeps in. His bed is an iron rack, no wider than his shoulders, held up by two chains, front and back. The mattress is cotton ticking thinly stuffed with straw, a penitent's or monk's bed, one he has known for generations upon generations, as Tutor in Residence to Royalty or at least Dukes and Earls, his cousins, actually, as he himself is the third son of a noble from an adjacent castle ages ago. To compose himself for sleep, Tutor imagines the mattress as his coffin. "Remember man that you art dust and into dust thou shalt return." He says his Vespers, ending with an Act of Contrition and a Hail Mary, as he drifts off into uneasy, tormented sleep. He sees buxom Molly in his dreams, Molly the new upstairs maid. As Omniscient Narrator I can see those dreams;  it does not hurt, either, that I have spent many years with Tutor, drunk or sober, manic or depressed,  riotous or moralizing,  in our Dumpster at the intersection of Wall and Bondage. I pretty much know how his mind works. And it does not hurt being a man, either, and Molly is not the first, nor will she be the last. In his dreams Molly is asking Tutor, as Priest of the Castle, for absolution for the sins of the flesh that she is confessing, the sins in his dream that Tutor is committing with her, as both receive absolution and penance, turn and turnabout in scenes you must imagine for yourself, if you can. (If not I will supply them for a reasonable charge.) And if not, you are a better man than I or Tutor, or a better person than poor Molly, who has her temptations, too. Either way, it is only a dream, and upon waking Tutor will again say his prayers, before taking breakfast in the servant's quarters with, among others,  lovely Molly. Like the rest of us, she is just trying to make a living, and can't help being so beautiful, at least for the time being, for all things must pass.


Dr. Maevis Bryerly - On my Omnisicience - A Mental Health Perspective on a Narrative Convention

Readers have asked how can I, a flawed, mortal man, of questionable and fragile mental health, know from my dumpster what is happening at The Castle by Sea, near Scotland, where my mentor, The Happy Tutor, is now gainfully employed as The Least Trusted Advisor to Tess, the Warrior Queen of Wall Street, and her daughter, Audrey, age 9.6, who will someday own, rule and save our world, as you shall see in due time. In particular, and this is a real conundrum not just with me but with, say, Fielding, Dickens, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, Henry James, and Virginia Wolfe, to name a few, how can I as Omniscient Narrator, actually see inside the characters' heads, and know their thoughts, and their most secret feelings? At one level, the answer is obvious: As Omniscient Narrator, I am just doing my job, no more or less bogus than, say, Impact Investing, or Subprime Loans, or Collateralized Debt Obligations, or politicians' promises. For every foolish reader, consumer, investor, or voter, an omniscient narrator stands ready to tell a tale. It is a big circuit of wishful thinking, feeding on itself. At another level, the answer (as to how I can hear the voices inside another person's head) is again obvious: I am insane. That seems more likely.

So, now that the Audrey project is taking off, and is billable, and my job in Wealth Bondage is no longer in peril, I am back in the Wealth Bondage Health Plan and am able to see a Counselor on a regular basis. Her name, I had not told you this in earlier posts, is Dr. Maevis Bryerly. She looks like a retired Lumberjack in tweed business attire, about 220 pounds, with arms like a weight lifter, and fists the size of hams, which triggers in me a lot of bad memories of my early days in Wealth Bondage pitching payday loans to the retail market in Yukon, prior to moving up into Private Banking, as assistant Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage, under the Happy Tutor, with a specialization in Donor Motivation.

Dr. Bryerly asked me, today, how my journaling was going. She had assigned it to me, without realizing that I was posting it all over the internet. She considers that both a sign of my poor mental health, and cause of it not getting better. Now I am shunned not only in person but also by millions of passersby who read and mock my posts. I long for even one "like," "follower," or "friend," but years into this, I have nothing to show in response to my posts but stony silence, vitriol and scorn. I asked Dr. Bryerly about my Omniscience and she said it is nothing; I should not worry about it. It goes with megalomania, psychosis, and other traits associated with greatness. But, I said, "The voice I hear dictating the voices and inner lives of Audrey and Tess and Tutor, is your voice, Doctor. I merely take dictation. You are my muse! I love you so much Dr! I dream your words in my sleep!"

She said this is worse than she thought and would adjust my medication. More lithium. She said she is not my muse; and I don't really love her. It is just a transference, which is just as well, because if I loved a woman who looks like a Lumberjack, I would have to get my head examined. She said she would work through the transference with me, but I should probably not be drinking so much when on lithium, particularly after my lobotomy. The voices could just be delirium tremens.

I know that for you, as Gentle Reader, this may be Too Much Information (TMI), but I have always believed that Full Disclosure leads to trust. Without your believing in me as the Omniscient Narrator, I can't tell you what is going on inside Audrey, and have you accept it as true. I don't know how you would trust me if you thought that I thought that I am really Omniscient. I know it is really the Muse, speaking through Dr. Bryerly into me. As a Doctor of Human Psychology, she can see and hear what is going on inside people's heads. That is her job. She is trained to do it.  That gives me the confidence to post here verbatim, without any editing, what I hear her saying inside my head.  I know I will some day be cured, which is why I want to write everything down on line now, so that when my head goes dark, I can read it here and remember what it once was to be inspired.


Fidelity 2015 Single Family Office Compensation Study

Single family office compensation study 2015 from Fidelity. Direct compensation for the CEO for an office serving a family with $1 billion under management is $830,000. I did not see Secular Priesting or Morals Tutorial services broken out as a separate role or service.  It may be rolled in under Family Governance. Since a vow of poverty is traditional for a real priest, and philosophers like me are almost always broke, I assume that a good family office would  be able to pay prevailing rates for moral guidance. I serve on a board for Interfaith Worker Justice and can recommend several real priests, rabbis, nuns, and Imams. I also know a lot of family governance folks with degrees in divinity, or philosophy. So I could help an SFO shop around for best advice at best price. Generally, the higher priced morals tutors are easier to work with. The higher price translates into less friction.


Horace's Immortal Muse

I ran into my Muse today (I think of her as that, though she considers herself my therapist), not at her office where I go for help with the voices in my head, but at a hotel bar, where I had gone to network and cage a drink. She had already had a few too many, so I escorted her to a cab, and sent her home. On the way out the hotel's door, leaning on my arm, she said, "Fuck being a Muse.... other people's poetry and projections.... all I ever wanted was a little farm in Licenza at the foot of the mountains, where I could keep a flock and grow olives.... and that bastard Caesar gave it to fucking Horace....."