US Fiscally Irresponsible
IBM Bribes Foreign Government Officials

Lifestyles of the Rich and Richer

Lobbyist Edwina Rogers Uses Real Money to Wrap Gifts

Just when I was starting to feel sorry for the rich what with the depressed housing prices in California and possibility that income tax rates will rise under President Obama, I read that in a recent survey more than 40 percent of millionaires say they don't feel wealthy. According to a CBS Money Watch story (see:, the millionaires who don't consider themselves wealthy said it would take $7.5 million in assets beyond what they have stashed in retirement accounts and excluding the value of their real estate, before they would in fact consider themselves wealthy. I don't know about you, but I would feel wealthy with just half that amount -- $3.75 million. 

I decided to do an Internet search of wealthy people. I don't mean Bill Gates and Warren Buffet wealthy. They actually contribute something to society. I was looking for a marginal contributor who had struck it rich doing something most of us might find repugnant. So, I looked at the 2010 Gallup Poll on Honesty and Ethics in the professions (see:  Nurses continue to outrank other professions in the annual poll. Eighty-one percent of Americans say nurses have "very high" or "high" honesty and ethical standards. Who was dead last? Lobbyists and used car salespeople. They were just slightly lower than Members of Congress (no surprise there), state office holders (ditto), advertising practitioners, business executives (who, of course, were responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown) and, yes, lawyers.

I wanted to know more. Used car salespeople aren't very interesting so I looked for a lobbyist and came up with Edwina Rogers, a lobbyist for the health-care industry. Edwina Rogers, the wife of Washington lobbyist Ed Rogers, says that she wraps her thank-yous in sheets of real dollar bills, purchased from the Bureau of Engraving. You heard me right.

In this clip from the pilot episode of "PowerHouse"-a kind of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" show set in Washington and in development for NBC-Mrs. Rogers is shown in her "wrapping room," a special area of her walk-in closet in her 18,000-square-foot mansion. She unfurls a roll of dollar bills and starts slicing them up to make the appropriate wrapping sheets. No matter that she slices several dollar bills in half-it is all about lining up the George Washingtons on the front. By the way, the last minute of the video is about a somewhat bizarre Texan, Scott Segal, who is labeled a DC Powerbroker. I have no idea who he is what power he brokers so you may want to skip it


I am reminded of Cyndi Lauper's hit song -- Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Perhaps more accurately, some people just have too much time on their hands.

Blog by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, March 29, 2011

Video from YouTube