Tuesday, October 23, 2018

An Uncomplicated Life

My obituary has yet to be written, basically because I'm still alive. And I'm not famous enough to have an "advance" one waiting in the wings to be updated and polished when the moment for its need arrives.

Whenever the time comes it will be revealed I've led a rather uncomplicated life. At least compared to some of the people I read about who have passed away. Uncomplicated is an understatement when you consider some of the tales of the deceased just in today's paper alone.

Take Cornelius E. Gallagher, 97, a Congressman from New Jersey. The photo accompanying his obit is from April 1972 and shows an unmistakable Irish choir boy face. Surely Neil was an altar boy in the parish. But it goes unmentioned, either because he wasn't, or because there are more exciting things to mention that occurred in his life.

I would classify these exciting things as definite complications.

Take the 1968 Life magazine report that wiretaps lead to suggestions he was protecting a Mafia boss, Joseph Zicarelli and his gambling operation. After all, there were intimations in the recorded conversations that Mr. Gallagher enlisted Mr. Zicarelli's help in disposing the body of a loan shark who died in Mr. Gallagher's home.

This had to complicate Mr. Gallagher's life immensely. A loan shark passed away in his home and he needed a Mafia boss to help dispose of the body. Apparently, calling the police was not an option. There will be nothing to match that in my obituary.

And that's not the only complication we read about. Take April 1972 when Mr. Gallagher was indicted on charges of committing perjury, attempting to evade $102,000 in income taxes. A $102,000 in taxes means there was a much higher amount that was in dispute, that according to the IRS, if reported properly, would result in owing $102,000 in taxes. Again, I'm going to fall way short on that one as well. Those kind of amounts to the left of the comma have never been found on my returns.

In 1978, well after Mr. Gallagher was no longer in Congress, the House Ethics Committee reported a South Korean businessman, Tongsun Park, gave Mr. Gallagher $74,000 in cash for his help in restoring Mr. Park as a middleman for the Korean purchase of American rice.

Think of how complicated that must have been. Mr. Gallagher benefits to the tune of $74,000 in cash for getting a Korean installed as a middleman for the purchase of American rice that was being purchased by Korea. American rice is being sent to Asia, the complete opposite direction of what the "survey" would say the trade direction of rice is.

There is no mention of the $74,000 in cash getting Mr. Gallagher in trouble with the IRS. Perhaps the statue of limitations had expired on unreported cash. But think of what it took for Mr. Gallagher to hide the transaction from investigating eyes until it was too late to do anything about it.

Again, I will have no tales in my closet that match financially benefiting from American rice being shipped to Korea. When I eat rice, I don't care where it comes from. A clean kitchen would be my hope.

Live a long life that expires when you're 97 and there should be no surprise that in 1995, when you're 74 years old, you finally plead guilty to tax fraud for failing to report $90,000 in profits from the sale of your villa in the Dominican Republic, and to bank fraud for your help in securing a loan for your son-in-law.

To prove that no good deed goes unpunished, Mr. Gallagher was sentenced to 10 months in prison on both charges. Again, despite not having achieved 74, there is nothing in my background that will increase any probability that I'll be faced with the same charges as Mr. Gallagher.

The photo of Mr. Gallagher that accompanies the narrative of his life by Sam Roberts in today's NYT, shows Mr. Gallagher on the phone, a device that he must have had constantly pinned to his ear having discussions with his lawyers.

There will be no photo of myself on the phone. I'm seldom on the phone, landline or otherwise. I have no lawyers on speed dial.

I will pass through life without the complications of Mr. Gallagher's life. And I'm not at all unhappy about that.


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