Phillip Greenspun: If Michael Phelps needs to smoke dope, what do the rest of us need?Michael Phelps, the heroic swimmer from the 2008 Olympics, apparently has been smoking some marijuana lately. Let’s compare his situation to the average American’s. Phelps has a high-paying job doing something that he loves, millions of dollars in endorsement revenue just in the last few months (source), and his own charitable foundation. All of this has been achieved at the age of 23. Phelps has made money so fast he probably didn’t have time to invest it in the stock market, so we can be fairly certain he isn’t depressed about his personal finances.Joe Typical American, by contrast, is about 35 years of age. His Olympic gold medal count is zero. He is probably overweight, if not obese. Unless he works for the government or in health care, he is unemployed or worried about being unemployed. He probably didn’t enjoy his job that much when he was employed. His retirement savings have been confiscated by the Wall Street bonuses of 1995-2007. His future earnings have been confiscated by the Wall Street bonuses of 2008-2015 (to be paid out of TARP and other taxpayer funds, which will inevitably result in debt).
If Phelps needs to smoke dope, what do the rest of us need to get through the next decade or two?
[On an unrelated note, a few readers pointed out that Phelps was convicted of drunken driving four years ago, shortly after winning 8 gold medals, and the world didn't get its panties quite as twisted. Driving a monster SUV and running the risk of killing someone isn't as exciting as inhaling some marijuana.]
Good question, and good point.