Who are 'the rich', really?


“The rich are different from you and me.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Yes, they have more money.” — Ernest Hemingway


I received a pretty strong reaction from some readers to a post – largely tongue in cheek – that had a ‘social moral’ …

… that ‘rich people’ are actually just ‘people’ who happen to have a few more zeros in their bank account.

For a start, let’s look at how they got there: inheritance; marriage; luck; hard work [AJC: although, ‘marriage’ could also be included in this last one 🙂 ]

It’s a stretch then to say that ‘The Rich’ can be genetically or socially any different to the ‘The Not Rich’: what are the common traits required for each of the above methods? None obvious to me …

So, if anybody can get rich, why should ‘The Rich’ be any better or worse on any human scale (e.g. being socially responsible; giving to charity; etc; etc) than anybody else?

On the other hand, they may have the means to display their characteristics more obviously – for better or worse 😉

But, let’s not generalize, let’s turn to Prof. Thomas J. Stanley, former professor of marketing at Georgia State University (author of The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind); I found a summary of the latter book by noted economist Prof. Mark Skousen who says:

Here are the results of his (Prof. Stanley’s] survey of over 1,000 super-millionaires (people who earn $1,000,000 a year or more):

  • They live far below their means, and have little or no debt. Most pay off their credit cards every month; 40% have no home mortgage at all.
  • Millionaires are frugal; they prepare shopping lists, resole their shoes, and save a lot of money; but they are not misers; they live balanced lives.
  • 97% are homeowners; they tend to live in fine homes in older neighborhoods. (Only 27% have ever built their “dreamhome.”)
  • 92% are married; only 2% are currently divorced. Millionaire couples have less than one-third the divorce rate of non-millionaire couples. The typical couple in the millionaire group has been married for 28 years, and has three children. Nearly 50% of the wives of the super-rich do not work outside the home.
  • Most are one-generation millionaires who became wealthy as business owners or executives; most did not inherit their wealth.
  • Almost all are well educated; 90% are college graduates, and 52% hold advanced degrees; however, few graduated top of their class — most were “B” students. They learned two lessons from college: discipline and tenacity.
  • Most live balanced lives; they are not workaholics; 93% listed socialiazing with family members as their #1 activity; 45% play golf. (Stanley didn’t survey whether they were avid book readers — too bad.)
  • 52% attend church at least once a month; 37% consider themselves very religious.
  • They share five basic ingredients to success: integrity, discipline, social skills, a supportive spouse, and hard work.
  • They contribute heavily to charity, church and community activities (64%).
  • Their #1 worry: taxes! Their average annual federal tax bill: $300,000. The top 1/10 of 1% of U.S. income earners pays 14.7% of all income taxes collected!
  • “Not one millionaire had anything nice to say about gambling.” Okay, but his survey also showed that 33% played the lottery at least once during the year!

Thus, we see how the super upper-income families of this nation are not the ones contributing to crime, welfare, divorce, child abuse, and a spendthrift society. But they are playing a lot of taxes and making a lot of contributions to solve these social problems.

But one still wonders, why are any of the ‘Rich = Bad’ believers reading a blog titled:  How to Make $7 Million in 7 years?