But first a word about this endless PlanetRX promotion. Enough already, you are thinking, did you win the free trip to Topeka or not? Well, even though the official rules said the contest ended July 31 — and still said that a couple of days ago — it has apparently been extended to August 31. So if you haven’t yet gotten your three free products ($3.95 shipping), click here. As you know, if enough people click here, I might actually be one of four Grand Prize Winners who get 25,000 frequent flier miles. I’m definitely in the running.

(It used to be that gold was the universal currency, the medium of exchange that drove people to do loopy things. Today, at barely $250 an ounce, no one wants gold. But we will do almost anything for miles.)

And don’t forget healthquick.com with its $15 off your first purchase. Sara Wolfson: “My son takes a supplement for treatment of an illness and it is sooo expensive, but much cheaper at this site. Thanks!”

Now a word about the quotes, like the one you see there at left.

In the first place, they display at random, from a large file I’ve collected over the years, so I don’t know which one you are looking at right now. Any that seem particularly apt — a quote about taxes on April 15 — are just coincidence, as are any that seem particularly inappropriate on a given day.

Second, I don’t always agree with them. My quoting Stalin — “It’s not the people who vote that count; only the people who count the votes” — doesn’t mean I buy what he says. You should vote!

Third, I occasionally slip in a factoid, or just something I’ve said. These are not, strictly speaking, quotes. But I don’t care.

I have fun with the quotes, and am struck by the way many things about money haven’t changed in hundreds, even thousands, of years. “Money is a handmaiden, if you know how to use it,” wrote the Roman poet Horace before the birth of Christ, “a mistress, if you do not.” Well, OK — on one level I suppose I know the Romans had money. And I suppose I know that they had maidens and mistresses. But it always amazes me to think that without CNN or sewing machines or photocopiers their lives could have been, in many respects, so much like ours.

“He is richest who is content with the least,” wrote Socrates. But how different is this from Ben Franklin a couple millennia later? “Who is rich?” asked Franklin. “He that rejoices in his portion.” Indeed, how different is it, really, from Ross Perot, talking to a bunch of Harvard Business School students: “Guys, just remember: if you get real lucky, if you make a lot of money, if you go out and buy a lot of stuff, it’s gonna break. You got your biggest, fanciest mansion in the world. It has air conditioning. It has a pool. Just think of all the pumps that are going to go out. Or go to a yacht basin any place in the world. Nobody is smiling and I’ll tell you why: something broke that morning. The generator’s out, the microwave oven doesn’t work, the cook’s gay. Things just don’t mean happiness.”

I actually wrote Perot a letter when this appeared in Forbes — some awfully good cooks are gay — but you get the point. Things don’t buy happiness; there’s peace and happiness in living within one’s means; you can have $50 million and want more or be a pensioner and count each day a blessing.

Still, a little extra free skin cream couldn’t hurt. Click here.


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