What Depression, Recession?

Stanley Ho

Oh, sure, you're cutting back on your spending this holiday. Times are tough. Blah blah blah. While you try to figure out how to pay the mortgage on one income and regrow your 401k, just remember there are people who are...better off than you.

For example, Hong Kong casino billionaire Stanley Ho just spent $200,000 on a 2-pound Italian white truffle. The truffle then flew from Italy to Macao first class. I wonder which in-flight movie it chose.

Signs of extravagance pepper the pages of the latest Robb Report, which includes must-have gifts for '09. There are mega yachts and mega sports cars, but there's also a $1,700 cell phone designed by Porsche, and a $25,000 set of Bob Dylan harmonicas--seven harmonicas because one is not enough. But for people who REALLY have way too much money, there's the Force Dynamics 401 race car simulator. Price? $55,000. Not for a car, but for a simulator. Watch the video on YouTube. The price excludes the computer and software. But at least you don't have to buy gas.

One business really starts cranking up during the holidays, and I don't mean Wal-Mart. "In the four years we've been open, we always pick up right at Thanksgiving," says Jim Fent, executive vice president at A Better Tomorrow Treatment Center. This is the time of year when people start checking into drug and alcohol rehab big-time. A Better Tomorrow saw three people check in the Monday BEFORE Thanksgiving because they were "stressed out" about seeing family. "Emotions run high during the holiday season," Fent says, adding that most addicts got into their current situation partly because of difficult family relationships. "The good thing, however, is that the stress that drug and alcohol addicts experience during the holidays often prompts them to seek treatment for their addictions."

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