The Dichotomy of Riches

I am often entertained by the widespread complaints throughout the social networking spaces about the rich in our country.  So I thought I would take a look at some of the factors consistent with the very rich.  This will be an interactive piece, so as we go along you can answer the questions [in bold] to yourself and do a little self-discovery along the way.  You already know whether you are rich or not, but we’ll only be looking at what it is likely the very rich did throughout their lives.  Additionally, let’s define “very rich” as a person having a net worth greater than $50 million.

Let’s call our very rich person Steve.  No offense to women but I have to call this person something.  Now Steve more than likely was born to a lower middle class family and went to a public Elementary School.  He was probably taught that it was important to study and learn as hard as he could so that he could be successful in life and that is what he did.  He most likely got all A’s in Grades 1-6.  Is that what you did?

Then Steve moved on to Middle School Grades 7-8. He continued to study hard, continued to get all A’s, and began entering and winning science fairs.  Is that what you did?

The next stop for Steve was his local public High School.  As a freshman he began winning awards; Math, Biology, History.  His interests were probably varied as he progressed through high school.  And so the awards he won began to vary as well; Calculus, Chemistry, Computer Science, Russian, German, English, Physics, History, Orchestra.  By the end of High School, Steve most likely graduated at the top of his class and was Class President and Valedictorian.  He most likely scored the maximum on his SAT with an 800 on each part.  Is that what you did?

Steve graduated from High School as an emerging polymath.  But there was a cost.  He probably didn’t play many, if any sports.  His classmates generally thought he was a nerd and that he skewed the grading curve too often.  He probably didn’t go on dates or go to the Prom because he was too busy with some project or other.  Is that what you did?

Well Steve has worked very hard in his first 18 years and he had his pick of any University.  It is probable that he chose Harvard University because of the diversity and reputation that Harvard offered.  Steve wasn’t just interested in a career in mathematics or an application of one of the sciences.  Steve wanted to start a business and help change the world.  So Steve took a double major in Business Administration and Computer Science.  [I chose Computer Science for this example for no particular reason]  Is that what you did?

Steve finished his Bachelor degree programs at Harvard and started his business.  Because Steve was well grounded in all phases of his education and his talents, his business grew rapidly.  Steve decided then to go back to Harvard for his MBA.  Steve’s business continued to grow and he became very rich.  Is that what you did?

So now Steve has a net worth of at least $50 million.  But again there was a cost. You see Steve most likely worked 18-hour days throughout his career, now pays alimony, and sees his children when he has time.  Steve sacrificed everything throughout his life so that he could be a success, just like his parents taught him.  But you see Steve defined success as how much money he could make.

How many of us have steered our careers in a direction that would allow us to be home at a regular time for our spouse and kids?  How many of us consider the evening meal at the dinner table the most important family time in the day?  How many of us believe that a family vacation at Yosemite far outweighs sending the kids to Grandma’s and going to Jamaica?  How many of us believe that attending church each Sunday as a family helps instill morals and values in our children?  Is that what you did?

So Steve has at least $50 million.  I don’t begrudge Steve his money.  He paid a heavy price for it.  Most of us look at our spouses and our children and exclaim how rich we are beyond what money could provide.  We measure success through the happiness within our families, the futures of our children, and the peace we feel from knowing we have lived an ethical and moral life.  Do I wish I had more money?  Sure, but I’m very happy with what I’ve got, thanks.

If we look at the metrics closely, we see that greater amounts of money are held by fewer numbers of people.  The common angst is that this is wrong and that the total money in the US should be spread more evenly.  Perhaps that’s not true at all.  Perhaps fewer and fewer people want to be super rich because more and more people want to do good in the world knowing that a career in teaching, social work, medical research, first responders, the arts and music, and many other professions will never make them rich.  Perhaps more young people are now concerned with a career that not only provide for their families but also provide for their communities as well.  And so I tend to smile a bit when I see that only 1/1000th % of the people in the US control 40% of the money.  I smile and say to myself ‘good for you America, you’re finally getting your priorities in order.’

© J T Weaver

Related Posts:    Copyrights and other such things    What Is Your Responsibility

About J T Weaver

The author of "Uphill Both Ways," a thought provoking series of stories about life, family, and growing up.
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8 Responses to The Dichotomy of Riches

  1. Lynne Ayers says:

    You made your point well.


  2. J T Weaver says:

    Point well taken. I agree.


  3. You omitted another factor in that mix — Peter’s race. Without wanting to stir up a PC fight, it has an effect. If he was born Caucasian and healthy, he faced fewer obstacles than if he was not.

    But your larger point is taken. The U.S. places an inordinate value on material wealth and sadly disproportionate lower value on spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical riches. With all due respect to your other readers, the prior comment is an example of this: The rich rule, baby!

    Not necessarily.


  4. Peter says:

    I’ve never gotten a job from a poor person and frankly I believe that without the rich we would all be in a world of hurt. It is amazing to me how there are so many people out there that actually feel they are entitled to get a piece of the income that the wealthy people have, when they are not willing to work for it. Please all of you, watch Atlas Shrugged. It is a good example of what is happening right now in our country. Maybe we should be glad that there are people who work hard and make sacrfices to build something and create wealth instead of belittling them and taking their hard earned money.


  5. Mom says:

    Richness is defined by every individual. As every individual is unique so is the definition of richness to each individuals unique situation.


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