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Hullabaloo


Thursday, August 30, 2012

 
Another asshole starts on third base, thinks she earned it

David Atkins

How many times does this have to happen before sociologists and psychologists actually do some studies on what is going on in these people's brains?

The richest woman in the world has a message for all you normals out there: Becoming rich is as easy as putting down that beer and getting off your ass.

Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart wrote that there is “no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” in a column in Australian Resources Magazine, according to the AFP.

"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain,” Rinehart wrote. “Do something to make more money yourself -- spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.”

Rinehart has a point, working hard is one way to make a lot of money. Another way is to inherit a boatload of it and turn that wealth into more wealth. Rinehart may be more familiar with the second route. When her father died in 1992, he left the mining mogul $75 million and, yes, she multiplied that sum by 386 over the past 20 years, according to AOL Daily Finance.

It's true that probably happened because Rinehart worked hard. But in the race to become super-rich, it always helps to have a head start. Nearly 70 percent of the sons of top-earning men have worked at their dad's employer, compared to just 40 percent of sons overall, a recent study found.

Rinehart’s comments set off a firestorm in Australia, where she holds the title of richest person. The country’s Treasurer slammed her column, saying it was "an insult to the millions of Australian workers who go to work and slog it out to feed the kids and pay the bills,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
No kidding. Actually, far from spending less time drinking and socializing, the easiest and fastest way to become a millionaire isn't to work harder. It's to drink and schmooze with the right crowd.

The notion that rich people automatically work harder is preposterous. I'm a small business owner who hires various subcontractors, and I know a lot of very hardworking, very smart people who simply cannot find work. I also know a lot of lazy, not-so-bright people who make quite a bit of money mostly through luck and being in the right place at the right time.

I think we all know lots of people in both categories, and it has little to do with profligacy or prudence. I'm prudent, but I also knew that "there but for the grace of God go I," and that bad luck could befall me at any time. I also know that my success as a business owner depends on a strong, educated middle class--not whether some random dot-com billionaire or house flipper who got out just in time can afford 10 more ferraris or not.

This stuff is obvious. And, of course, in our society that taxes investment at a much lower rate than work, it's the first $1,000,000 that's the hardest to earn. From there it only gets easier.

And if a person is at all prudent and halfway intelligent, it's fairly easy to take a $75 million inheritance and turn it into a lot more. People with money actually know this. Many of them have the appropriate guilt about their good fortune to have a well-developed sense of noblesse oblige. But it's also clear that a great many of them have no such thing.

So the only question remains: what is going on in these people's heads? Are they blithely clueless fools who really don't believe that other people work hard for a living? Are they literal sociopaths who know better but don't care? Is it that our meritocracy provides them an easy justification for selfishness, and they never ask themselves any serious questions about it? What the hell is wrong with these people?


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