If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?
Have you ever heard that expression? Perhaps you have even hurled it at someone in frustration. Or, perhaps you’ve had other people hurl it at you. Maybe both. But have you ever analyzed what such a statement really means? Have you ever heard someone say, “If you’re so smart, why can’t you jump higher?” Or, have you perhaps said, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you a gardener?” How about this one: “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you nice?”?
Here’s what I think. Some among the extremely rich, want people throughout the world to think that every rich person, no matter how they acquired that wealth, got that wealth by being smart. They don’t want you to think they simply inherited it. They certainly don’t want you think they stole it. They don’t want you to think they were just lucky. Every time you hear this expression — “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” — you are essentially implying that anyone who is smart should be rich. You are essentially implying that, of course, pursuing wealth is the top priority for everyone and the smartest are the richest are the smartest. If you were smart, you wouldn’t possibly “settle” for less wealth because you enjoyed living in a certain area or because you found more meaning or pleasure in a lower paying pursuit.
Among the very rich, and especially among the very rich who did not actually earn any of their wealth, there are some who are insanely greedy. Please understand, I’m not talking about wanting your fair share, or putting yourself and your family ahead of others. Nor, am I talking about people who really want more than their share and will cheat if they can get away with it. That’s what I call greed. I am talking about insane greed.
As you likely know from numerous TV shows about lawyers, “insanity” is not a psychological or psychiatric term so much as a legal term. In our society, you can’t lock someone up simply because they are neurotic, or psychotic, or manic-depressive, or because of claustrophobia or because they insist that the moon is made of green cheese or that the earth is flat. The test for involuntary residence at a psychiatric facility is whether you are a danger to yourself or others. The insanely greedy are precisely a danger to themselves and others.
It’s probably obvious to most that the insanely greedy are a danger to others. To go from being a billionaire to billionaire with another dime in their pocket, they will pollute and that pollution kills. They will tout false cures. They will design, build and sell deadly products like cigarettes and pretend it’s all fine. They don’t care. If they can get away with it, they just don’t care. They are insanely greedy in that their greed is a danger to others.
Their greed also makes them a danger to themselves. True enough, they typically know that they are a danger to others; they just don’t give a damn. But they often delude themselves so severely that they literally do not realize that they are also a danger to themselves. They are a danger in ways both trivial and substantial.
They are trivially a danger to themselves in that many of the things they propagate such as global climate change and pollution will hurt the life stream of which they are a very small and temporary part. If they understood their true nature, they would realize that their greed ultimately hurts them.
Their substantive self-harm specifically has to do with supporting a known liar, cheat, and criminal in his attempt to become dictator because they believe that since they are funding an insurrection to install him as dictator, that TFG will look favorably on them; e.g., by giving federal business to them or jailing their competitors. Or, perhaps they’re the sort of person who will simply enjoy having innocent people destroyed because of their religion or national origin or taste in dance music, or whatever other bogus divisiveness comes into vogue. It doesn’t matter. Regardless of the reason, there is zero evidence in TFG’s behavior that he shows actual loyalty to anyone. It isn’t that he has rarely betrayed others; it isn’t that he has sometimes betrayed others; it isn’t that he has often betrayed others. He’s consistently betrayed others. He’s cheated his wives, his business partners, his contractors, his own lawyers, his supporters, his fans, his co-workers, his customers, the people who gave to his charities, and random strangers.
TFG needs the money of his donors in order to gain power. He doesn’t need their money once he has power. He would control the intelligence agencies, the justice department, the military, and the press. He would no longer need the money of his donors or of their power. Supporting TFG to become dictator is essentially writing a blank check to him. He will simply take whatever he wants.
Poor people are deluded into thinking TFG won’t betray them because they want to a super spreader hate rally and wore a red hat.
Rich people are deluded into the thinking TFG won’t betray them because he used their wealth to become dictator.
I don’t know about you. But I see no reason to ever say, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich.”
Essays on America: The Stopping Rule
Essays on America: The Update Problem
Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man
Peter, these is a key conclusion to the documentary called “I Am.” It was produced by a very rich director who realized his new tailored home did not bring his happiness. The movie asks of religious folks, mental health professionals, medical doctors, philosophers et al the question of what makes us happy. The key conclusions reached is the absence of money can make you unhappy, but having more more money than you need to feed, clothe and house you and your family, does not make you happy. Using economic terms, there is a diminishing marginal return with each dollar above what is needed.
I am reminded of the toast at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” by Harry Bailey to his helpful and community minded brother. “To my brother George, the richest man in Bedford Falls.” Keith
Some of the nicest and well-meaning people are very rich. Having said that, one isn’t necessarily connected to the other. We do the best with where we are.
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