For a country that – in the eyes of many outsiders – unashamedly celebrates people who get their hands on great wealth, Americans can be oddly touchy on the subject of money.
The latest victim of this schizophrenic attitude is the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, now busy trying to back away from his on-stage gaffe in Iowa, where he offered one of his rivals, Rick Perry, a bet of $10,000 that he had never advocated a federal healthcare system on the lines of the system that operates in his home state of Massachusetts.
Mr Romney is, in fact, known as a frugal individual who rarely goes in for wagers. Besides, as a devout Mormon, he cannot be unaware that his church disapproves of gambling. The irony is that he would have been on safer ground had he bet a million dollars, as this would clearly have been a figure of speech. Too late. Money is a tricky business, even in America.