A constant topic these days seems to be that there is income inequality in our country. The questions are what is the motivation of the people regularly discussing this and why should you give a hoot about the subject?
Years back at a kid’s birthday party, one of our guests made a very negative comment about Bill Gates’ wealth. At the time he was the richest person in the world. I asked the person who brought up the subject “Has anyone been forced to buy Microsoft’s products? Hasn’t he had a competing platform (Apple)? Hasn’t his operating system bettered everyone’s life?” Of course there was no answer to those questions because the commentary against Gates was hollow.
Nearly all people who make vast sums improve the lives of others with their products and innovations. I find Jeff Bezos and the late Steve Jobs to be contemptible. Nevertheless, they both changed the world with the companies and concepts they created. Not one of us were forced to use the products, but we line up to do so.
It has been this way in our country for generations. Henry Ford was a disgusting anti-Semite. He also created a company that mass produced autos and employed legions on his new concept – the assembly line. John D. Rockefeller brought affordable home heating oil to millions. We never had to live in freezing homes because of how he changed the world, yet many distained him.
All of these people created foundations that have improved our lives tremendously. Bill Gates and his wife are traveling the world innovating medical care and thus saving lives which governments are incapable of doing.
Why do certain people begrudge them? Because they want to control the money not the person who created it.
Early on in my relationship with the Beautiful Wife she encountered a female friend of mine. My business as a CPA was still building. Some of my close friends were (and still are) clients, albeit they were then much further along in their careers. The friend asked my wife if it was unsettling for me to see first-hand the success of those clients in the group. BW replied, “Bruce only cares about how much money is in his bank account.”
If you live by that rule two things will happen. You will be much happier. The second aspect is you will focus much more on your own success, if that is your goal, and become closer to achieving it.
We all encounter some people who make us wonder how they became so successful. There are many different paths to succeeding financially in our country. Most of us do not begrudge others their success, particularly if we know they did three things. 1) They worked hard.
2) They played by the rules. And, last, 3) they acted responsibly once they have achieved success.
The common key ingredient among most all very successful people is one thing – they took risks. They might have failed — and they probably did — a few times. After all, Steve Jobs was basically fired from Apple at one point. Then he came back and made it the richest company in the world.
What is most important is whether the rest of us are living fine lives. Recently, a class of homeless people has developed in big cities. The causes of this are many, but there are two main ones. A lot of these people are either heavy drug users or severely mentally ill. The other reason is government-driven housing shortages.
For the rest of people in America, our standard of living is better than any time in history. The census bureau did a study after the 2011 census. There were supposedly 30 million poor Americans. The typical poor household, as defined by the government, has a car and heat and air conditioning, two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. They themselves reported that this typical poor family was not hungry and was able to obtain medical care when needed. The average poor American has more living space in his home than that of the average (non-poor) European.
This was directly after what was considered one of the worst financial crises in our country’s history. What do you think it is like today after eight years of uninterrupted job growth and the financial boom the last two years? You can be sure a large portion of the poor now have smart phones.
If you want to see what it is like for people who are poor and not Americans travel to India as we did two years ago and to Vietnam this year. Many people are succeeding in those countries, but many are really poor with terrible housing and generally poor conditions. One thing we noticed though was they were seemingly happy. They did not have some whispering in their ear telling them how they were suffering.
The people who yammer about income inequality have produced nothing to better the lives of other Americans. They prey on the worst fears of people who have not yet succeeded, making their worst thoughts seem real. They do this not to improve peoples’ lives, but to give themselves control.
They want to control the money in our society and tell all of us how it will be spent. They are greedy people with their own agenda. They don’t make matters better for people. They don’t give people hope – they give them despair. “Those people over there are stealing from you and I will stop that.” Somehow that never happens; it just ends up in their pockets. Ask yourself how Bernie Sanders ended up with three homes and a pension worth millions?
Every one of them — Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Putin, Yasser Arafat, Hugo Chavez, etc. — ended up living a class above the people they were supposedly saving. Some of them ended up extremely wealthy. Yet the people they “served” never reaped the benefits.
Believe it. Those yelping about income inequality are just trying to steal from successful people to give to themselves. It is an age-old story. Ignore them and focus on building your own success before they make it impossible.