The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Are the rich born that way?

One of our readers, in a passionate letter, recently said:  "The rich are born that way."  While I have no idea of the background of this reader, this is a typical attitude of those born without money.  Before I make my case, let me explain why.  We love our parents, and every person, family, and social class tends to think the universe revolves around them.  If our parents worked hard, and are smart, then to what do we ascribe their lack of financial success?  We certainly would find it hard to say "they are lazy" , especially if we watched them work their fingers to the bone.  We can't say "they're dumb", especially if we KNOW that they have high levels of intelligence and sometimes education.  Well, then, we tend to absorb one of about three or four basic ideas:

1) The rich are born that way.
2) it takes money to make money
3) Rich people are greedy, selfish, and dishonest.
4) Rich people ar miserable--in other words, poor in the spiritual values.
and so on.
I certainly grew up with those attitudes (I think they are especially prevelent in the black community) and have spent a lifetime fighting against those poisonous voices.  ne of the first breakthroughs came when I actually looked up the statistics on wealth--which, at the time, meant anyone with a net worth above one million dollars.  In the 70's the average person with a net worth above one millin dollars was a real-estate broker/owner or dry cleaner who had worked at their job for about 25 years.  I double checked this, and ahave looked into it many times over the years, and although the occupations and numbers shift a bit, the basic truth is there, and remains.  I did a little snooping around the web, and came up with the following information.  NOTE: this doesn't apply to the "super rich"--in oother words, the top 1-5% of those with net worth above a million.  Yes, they have inherited wealth.  But better than 90% of those with a Net worth above a million  dollars tend to follow the basic principle:  Please do your own research, and post it here if you think you have evidence to the contrary.  My friends, it is true that the average person stays right in the social class in which they are born. But my contention is that, having known a LOT of both, poor people think about money very differently than rich people.  When they start thinking like rich people, they begin the process of clawing their way out of poverty. They might only make it to middle class--but then their kids have a chance of making it further.  AND IF YOU DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW RICH PEOPLE, don't trust what you have heard from friends, or seen in movies, or read in fictional books.  Go out and do your damned research--this is your life.  Don't get swamped in self-justifying illusions.  Don't talk to fat people about losing weight, or lonely people about healthy relationships, or broke people about money.  It is folly.
The following information comes from two different sources, and matches what I have researched and studied all  my life.  Don't try to contradict it with anecdotal evidence or opinion.  Bring us FACTS.

1)  "
The majority of affluent consumers have worked hard for their money, as shown by many studies indicating that the majority of new millionaires came from middle-class backgrounds and created their own wealth and that only 10-20 per cent of wealthy households have benefited from an inheritance. Not surprisingly, the ultra-wealthy are more likely than the average affluent household to benefit from family legacies passed on from generation to generation. "
In ``The Millionaire Mind,'' Thomas J. Stanley studied even richer millionaires _ the top 1 percent of households. These people had an average net worth of $9.2 million and earned $749,000 a year. The average multimillionaire in Stanley's study is a 54-year-old man, married to the same woman for 28 years, with three children. Nearly half are business owners or senior corporate executives. And almost none of them credit their success to being smart. They say the keys to success are being honest and disciplined, getting along with people, having a supportive spouse and working hard.

The average millionaire made B's and C's in college, Stanley says. Their average SAT score was 1190 _ not good enough to get into many top-notch schools. In fact, most millionaires were told they were not intellectually gifted, not smart enough to succeed. ``I find no correlation between SAT scores, grade point averages and economic achievement. None,'' said Stanley. ``Admittedly, there are some very bright people in the data, but not many.''The average millionaire was likely to live in an upper middle class home, and drive a Ford F-150 pickup truck or Lexus ES 300 they bought used. They wear watches that cost less than $150 and they spend less than $300 per suit; if they have to wear one at all.

Most were married, self employed, and attribute their ability to save money and accumulate wealth to not feeling pressured to spend to “keep up with the Jones’s.” In other words, they work hard, save diligently, and live far below their means.
  I could easily come up with more solid, footnoted data--but this isn't a master's thesis.  It is a plea that you dump the beliefs that hold you back.  Poor people are not lazy.  They work themselves to death, quite often.  They are not dumb.  Many of the least successful people I know have vast stores of useless information, or educations that have NOTHING to do with their chosen field of work.  But, again, having known both rich and poor people, I was STARTLED when I first (in my late 20's) actually began to associate with wealthy people, and discovered they were virtually nothing like what the poor people I'd grown up around thought they were.  On average, they were no better and no worse, as human beings, than poor people.  But they knew what they wanted, modeled the successes of other successful people, made plans, took action, and stayed the course despite their fears and doubts. 
THAT is what I've actually seen in the real world.

1 comment:

Gnosisquest said...

As Plato stated about 2400 years ago "Greed and virtue are directly proportional".

In other words; most rich people are those born without any of the finer human qualities and they care little about who they stomp on to achieve their goals.

A nation based on greed is a nation without virtue as seen in the terrible crime and corruption statistics in the US!

It is not by coincidence that if you kick a wealthy corporate executive in the a$$ you break the nose of US Senators!