he Thursday Thesis - 19/04/2018
Why Being Filthy Rich might be a Bad Thing
We’d all like to be “filthy rich”, wouldn’t we?
It stands to reason that to be rolling in readies would be a good thing, doesn’t it?
I’m sure we’d all benefit from having a few million more in the bank.
So why aren’t we?
Could it be tied up with how we talk and think about money?
There’s a lot of research out there that suggests there’s no shortage of money, so where is it?
It’s in the hands of those rich bastards – the Filthy Rich, of course!
But what if you suddenly became Filthy Rich – how could it ever be a bad thing?
Let’s take the phrase apart, starting with Filthy.
Do you want to be filthy?
Notice how that word sounds when you isolate it, sort of dirty, grimy and unpleasant?
Now let’s look at the other part of the phrase: Rich.
First of all, Rich is a comparative word used to contrast abundance with lack.
And, of course, Rich is also a political term, often used by those who don’t have money to attack those who do, usually with the intention of “redistributing” (a euphemism for stealing) some of that money. Forced redistribution (theft under menace – or mugging, as it is known in street terms) is immoral and counterproductive because it removes the incentive to produce or excel whilst simultaneously reinforcing the “right” to a free ride.
Fair tax is one thing – and remember that you have a legal duty to pay only the minimum amount of tax due in law – but penalising the successful because they’ve worked, invested, saved in order to improve their lot under their own steam?
That’s truly immoral.
But here’s the thing – “rich” people get rich by providing “poor” people (also known as customers) with a product or service that the customers value more than they value their money. So a fair exchange is struck, and the money passes from one person to another. No duress, no coercion: it’s an exchange of perceived value, that’s all.
It’s not political.
But, depending on the political climate in which your ideas were formed, it is possible that your idea of wealth has been distorted and loaded with negative images of money and of the people who have money – for example, the Filthy Rich, the Stinking Rich, Dirty Money, Filthy Lucre... you know the type of thing, don’t you?
Now if your images and descriptions of people with money are semantically loaded with negatives, then you won’t want to be that kind of person.
In fact you’ll probably aim to be the opposite of that kind of person, and since the opposite of Rich is Poor, you may well be unconsciously aiming to be poor.
If your attitudes and beliefs carry the idea that there’s something wrong, filthy or immoral about being wealthy, you will likely remain poor.
Furthermore, if you ever get to your mental threshold of acceptable wealth, you’ll find a way to get rid of the uncomfortably large sum of money that feels wrong for you to have. That’s why so many lottery winners are skint again in next to no time after their big wins.
Having money simply makes you more of who you are, for better or worse. If you are a fool when you have a little money, you’ll probably still be a fool when you have lots of money – but the effects of your foolishness will be amplified by the leverage of your new-found (and probably fleeting) wealth. Similarly, if you are a caring and generous person when you have a little money, your capacity to care and be generous will be amplified by the leverage of wealth.
The money itself is neutral – it doesn’t care: money is neither good nor bad.
As a kid I was told that rich people were greedy and selfish, and I believed it.
Who actually said that sort of thing?
People who had no money, of course!
But I’ve met many very wealthy and successful people over the years, and I’ve completely changed my mind, because the richer and more successful people are, the more positive, generous and caring they are.
They became wealthy and successful because of those traits, and the money amplified what was already there.
Perhaps today would be a good day to examine your beliefs about wealth, the way you think about money and the people who have a lot more money than you.
What do you reckon?
© Neil Cowmeadow 2018
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