‘Another person’s riches won’t destroy your ability to achieve status’
15 April 2018
There are three types of people in this world: those who own a luxury yacht, those who see one and aspire to have it, and those who see one and feel that a great injustice has occurred.
Most of us will fall into the second category. We may not be wealthy, but we certainly aspire to be, seeking guidance from those who have already achieved material success.
Then there’s the third and final group. These are the ones deluded by the empty concept of absolute equality. Those who sit at the bottom rung of a ladder and instead of climbing up, ask everyone to come down. They call themselves socialists and communists.
This group used to be a minority, but as problems grow and deluded leaders give all the wrong answers, a budding majority is beginning to take hold. They are entrenched in the idea that someone else’s wealth is making them poorer.
I may be alone in thinking that envy can actually be a tool for human good. There’s nothing that motivates you more and sparks more competition than seeing one person having the life you want.
Even if it’s surface-level and not based on genuine happiness, that drive can lead to a greater number of people working their way up from the lower or middle classes. This concept, however, falls apart when we have people who aren’t willing to put in the work and are just lazily jealous.
Perhaps the biggest reason why the rich are hated is because they are supposedly more ‘selfish’ than everyone else. While a certain amount of greed is required to get to the top of the business world, there’s very little evidence to suggest that once there, wealthy people hoard their riches.
To begin with, they pay the most in federal income taxes despite making up a smaller and smaller amount of the population as they get richer. Individual income taxes are the single biggest source of revenue for the federal government, and nearly 50% of that is paid by the top 1% of earners.
It never made sense to me how the wisdom of, ‘the wealthy hoard their money,’ and the ‘rich get richer,’ could coexist. That’s because the wealthy don’t really keep all their money in cash and under their mattress. Instead, they invest their wealth into any number of things, from start-up companies to collectables.
Apple and Tesla didn’t get a grant from the government to create their world-changing products. They began with the money of a few affluent investors who saw potential over risk.
Profit motive will continue to be the single biggest driver of success and innovation in the modern day, leading to more and more well-off individuals.
However, another person’s riches won’t destroy your ability to achieve status.
For those who are financially downtrodden, it’s easier to think of the world as a zero-sum game, mainly because it makes us feel better. But that’s wrong.
Wealth is created, not split from a finite source.
It’s this line of thinking that makes people believe it is reasonable to take more money they didn’t earn from more people they don’t know. We must stop thinking of wealth as a pie that needs to be sliced into equal pieces, when in fact, it is more like peas.
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, is a law that outlines how the vital few of a population are often responsible for the most production. The rule comes from economist, Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by about 20% of the population. Coincidentally, the same 80-20 skew existed in his garden, where 20% of his pea pods produced 80% of his peas. Sound familiar?
While there is a large and growing wealth gap in the United States, the gap itself is no indicator of injustice. Sure, some Americans are richer than others (what else is new?), but that doesn’t prove the wealthy are unfairly screwing the poor out of anything.
Think about all the reasons why you may be richer or poorer than the person next to you. When boiled down, it can simply amount to how hard you work, how rich your parents were, and your level of education. The answer certainly isn’t that the ambiguous ‘system’ is acting against your kind and favouring others.
This isn’t necessarily about hating ‘rich people.’ It’s about pointing the finger at an easy target; it’s another blame game against a faceless entity that at least 99% can feel OK kicking and punching, and while it may make us feel good, it won’t get us anywhere closer to achieving a society of even greater riches—for everyone.