This column was written by Nicholas von Hoffman.
You may not be able to take it with you, but you can come back and get it later. The rich, after death, are planning to get undead.
In addition to former celebrities like Ted Williams, the famous baseball player, the heads and/or the complete bodies of more-than-rich people are piling up in the deep freeze, awaiting medical resurrection at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, and at the Cryonics Institute of Clinton Township, Michigan.
Increasing numbers of the American plutocracy are having themselves frozen upon their deaths so as to be ready to be recalled to life as soon as the doctors can do it. You get Bill Gates or Arnold Schwarzenegger now, and your descendants get them again in the year 3006. Talk about Groundhog Day.
Thus far, if you accept the claims made on his behalf, only the late J.C. has managed to come back from the grave without benefit of artificial refrigeration. That was for a short visit before he rejoined the other two-thirds of himself in Heaven. But what Christ couldn't or didn't do, our modern American plutocrats are readying themselves to accomplish.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the well-to-do have decided that, since they cannot take it with them, they are going to have it waiting for them when they get back. The newspaper says that some 1,000 members of the "cryonics movement," all of whom we can presume are loaded, have arranged to have themselves frozen in liquid nitrogen at the hour of their demise.
Deathbed scenes for modern millionaires have white-clad technicians running into the bedroom, scooping up the dear, defunct one, packing him in ice and rushing him off to be frozen stiff before ordinary rigor mortis sets in. It would not do to have the Loved One begin to decompose. He might loose brain function when he is brought back to life. The on-ice method of body disposal makes wakes and the open-coffin funeral a trifle chilly, unless a wax effigy is substituted for the departed.
It would not do to return to life, say, seventy-five years from now and have nothing to pay the doctors with but the shroud off your back. Who wants to come back poor? Not to worry, kids.
When great-great-grandpa and -grandma return, they will not be a burden. The financial world is already working on several schemes to insure that when today's millionaires return from cryonic limbo they will be well set up.
The First Annual Colloquium on the Law of Transhuman Persons was held last year with an expert from the Wachovia Bank giving a presentation called "Issues Facing Trustees of Personal Revival Trusts."
Thanks to the miracle of compound interest, a couple of million bucks put in trust now will grow to a forty-zero figure in 200 years, or however long it takes for the doctors to perfect the rites of revival. Nevertheless, there may be some problems – or issues, as they say. How will the self-made, first-life gazillionaires of 3006 take kindly to a bunch of retreaded, second-life gazillionaires popping up out of the crypt? Will the second-time arounders be looked on as pushy, nouveau riche or accepted as part of the really, really, really old-money crowd?
You may think that few rich people will go for deep-freezing, but you are mistaken. Last year a few hundred Wall Streeters awarded themselves almost $22 billion in bonuses. When you have that kind of money, you run out of things to buy. You get exhausted. You get bored. Why not flip a few million into your personal resurrection project – or initiative, as the politicians say? You come back. You're immortal. You buy more stately mansions, more yachts, more jets, more sex, etc., and if you get bored, you can plan for another future by jumping back into the deep freeze.
By Nicholas von Hoffman
Reprinted with permission from The Nation