First of all, as long as someone comes by their money honestly and legally, it’s their money.
I don’t care how much money someone else makes; even when it seems easy, unfair or just plain stupid. How Snookie is worth a $38,000 speakers fee at Rutgers University I’ll never know- but she didn’t steal it.
The gap between rich and poor is not tearing our country apart; jealousy and class envy may very well do the job. Why is this becoming such an issue?
There is a growing gap between the incomes of the wealthiest and average Americans. This gap is even more apparent when you look at tangible assets rather than just income.
Is this wrong? Is it dangerous? If so- shouldn’t someone do something about it?
Unless you are willing to pull on your green tights, steal from the rich and give to the poor, what is there to do?
FACT: Just as there is a growing gap between rich and not so rich, there is also an increasing volatility in the upper income brackets. This means that while the top percentiles are earning proportionately more, it’s also harder for them to stay on top. It also means that more people are finding their way into the top brackets thereby increasing the gap. According to a study led by John Bakija at Williams College:
“…salary income and business income (including self-employment income, S-corporation, and partnership income), both of which largely reflect labor compensation, now account for the majority of the incomes of top income earners, and have been growing substantially as a share of that income in recent decades.” (Read full study here…)
This should be an encouraging sign for those of us who do want to work hard and earn more. The data is showing that people who work very, very hard and adapt themselves to the changing global marketplace are able to earn a lot of money. The Williams College report continues:
“One explanation for rising income inequality emphasizes that it coincided with advancing globalization, as indicated for example by increasing shares of imports and exports in GDP. This may increase the demand for the labor of high-skill workers in the U.S., because they can now sell their skills to a wider market, and highly-skilled workers are scarcer in the rest of the world than in the U.S.”
Is there some kind of aristocratic conspiracy? Is the New World Order meeting in secret to make sure they keep their boots on the necks of the oppressed masses?
Probably not. In reality, the rich get richer when poor and middle class people make more money too. After all, that’s where a lot of their money comes from.
So what are people so jealous about and why?
Envy is a natural enough emotion. That’s probably why all the world’s great philosophies dedicate a lot of energy to its control and submission and warn about its corrosive influence.
Envy is also big business. Envy drives political campaigns and energizes voting blocks. Envy sells newspapers and draws mass audiences to media pundits which in turn sells lots of advertising.
Turn it off and tune it out. Jealousy will never earn you a single dollar. It’s a massive waste of time and it destroys ambition.
If you want to make the “Top 10%” you’ve got to earn about $120,000 a year. The top 1% is a bit harder to crack at some $1.6 million or so (adjusted gross income) but you can make the top 1.5% at $250,000.
Are these numbers all that daunting? Who are these evil top percenters?
As Mr. Rogers used to sing, they’re “the people in your neighborhood.” Most of them are the owners of the small and mid-size businesses in your communities. They’re the managers and executives who run the companies that employ 90% or so of the rest of the people in your neighborhood.
Sure, some of them inherited their money. Those guys still better get to work; it’s becoming increasing harder to maintain wealth. A few others are athletes and celebrities, but nobody herded you into that stadium, arena or theater at gunpoint. They didn’t steal their money.
Oh- there are a few out there who did actually steal their money. Unless they also happen to hold a seat in Congress, most of them still eventually get caught and go to jail.
The plain fact is that we have all but eliminated any institutional barriers to obtaining and building wealth. Our “Top 10%” is filled with proverbial rags to riches stories- people born with every disadvantage and rose from every imaginable hardship to make their fortunes. How much time would you estimate that Bill Gates and Richard Branson spent stewing in envy when all they had were ideas and guts?
If they can make it, so can you and I. There is plenty of room at the top; it’s the middle and bottom that are crowded!
“A person is born with feelings of envy and hate. If he gives way to them, they will lead him to violence and crime, and any sense of loyalty and good faith will be abandoned.” ~Xun Zi
“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” ~Harold Coffin
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