“You know the funny thing, I don’t get along with rich people. I get along with the middle class and the poor people better than I get along with the rich people.”
“Money solves your money problems.”
In the summer of 2011, you couldn’t go into a town of any reasonable size and miss seeing some variant of Occupy Wall Street. They’d usually decamped in a local public park and held up signs decrying the 1%. They made a whole series of “one demands” that took on a whole range of issues. They played on a sometimes articulated belief that rich people were evil, and it was because of the evil that those rich people perpetrated that they, the occupiers, needed to make their protests.
There are evil rich people. There are also evil poor people, evil middle-class people, evil retirees, and a whole lot of other demographics which contain evil people. There’s even a Doctor Evil.
Being rich in and of itself is not an evil thing. Here are seven reasons why being rich isn’t evil.
- The rich usually got there through hard work and provided value and benefit to others. If you create something in the market which people want, then they will give you money for it. They are giving you money because they think that they’re getting something which gives them at least an equivalent value in the trade. In an ideal scenario, both parties feel like they’re better off for having made the trade (hat tip to John Berryman for pointing out the nuance!)
- The rich have more money to give to charity. No matter how good your intentions are, if you can barely make ends meet, you don’t have money to give to charity.
- The rich contribute more to charity. Households with incomes exceeding $1 million make 50% of all charitable donations.
- The rich are doing nothing to keep you from getting there. There is no fence that you have to climb to improve your life and improve your finances. There is no set of handcuffs which prevents you from improving your lot. There are only the voices inside your head which tell you I can’t. They’re the ones which prevent you from trying again when you fail. The voices in your head are the ones who tell you that it’s someone else’s fault, be it the system, the rich, fate, whatever. Stop the voices. Be responsible for your choices.
- The rich won’t have money problems. 17% of personal income in the United States goes to transfer payments – transfer of income from those who have income to those who don’t. While I am in favor of supporting those who cannot support themselves (disabled veterans is an example which comes to mind), there are those who can but do not. What if people created and earned instead of received?
- There’s no special button or formula which made these people rich. Read the biographies of several people who are rich. How many of them start with “I was born rich and got richer” (Donald Trump) compared to “I wasn’t poor, worked hard, was prepared to take advantage of opportunities, and got there” (Gates, Jobs, Buffet, Cuban, Jordan, etc.)? Instead of saying “if I was rich, I’d do things differently,” do things differently to get rich and then prove that you would do things differently if you were rich.
- What happens to rich people doesn’t affect your life. You get up, go to work, earn your living, save money, and live your life. If George Soros buys a yacht, it doesn’t affect you. So billions of dollars get thrown into political campaigns and lobbying each year – which, by and large, is spent by rich people. How does that affect your life? Does it prevent you from going to work and adding value and being more important so that you can earn more? Does it prevent you from starting your own business, providing goods and services which other people want, need, and will pay good money for? No. What does prevent you? Look in the mirror.
If you think that rich people are evil, stop living a life of envy. Define riches for what is important to you. Focus on that. Live a life which enables you to be rich as you define it, whether it’s money, family, travel, helping others, or something else. Go out and kill it. Create value. Focus on what you can do and what you can change. Do not look for external reasons. Success comes from within, and every day that you can give value to those around you, you will succeed.