by Rob Port | October 27, 2007 11:31 pm
Of course, that isn’t always true. There are the Paris Hilton’s of the world who live extravagantly on the riches amassed by their smarter, harder-working ancestors. And there are those who simply luck into wealth or collect it through nefarious means. But, generally, the reason the guy in the “rich” part of town has a newer car than you do or a bigger house isn’t because there’s some cabal of greedy, oppressive troglodytes working to keep your wages down but rather because that guy is probably smarter than you. Works harder than you. And, perhaps most importantly, made better decisions in his life than you did.
To put it bluntly, for every Paris Hilton in the world there is a Bill Gates and a Steve Jobs who rose to the top because of their brains, hard work and ability to innovate.
This will anger a lot of the class warfare people who are likely union supporters and subscribe to John Edwards’ “two Americas” theory, but those people are mostly angry because nobody wants to believe that their lack of fulfillment with their lives is their own fault. It’s always easier to blame some invisible, anonymous conspiracy.
Take, as a case-in-point, an anecdotal story from Robert Frank about his recent dinner with a billionaire:
Last week I had dinner with a billionaire in California. During the two hours I was at his house, he took six cellphone calls, sent 18 emails, and thought up two new business ideas. (The other guests included a venture capitalist and tech engineer.) At the end of dinner he took his last sip of wine and said, “It’s so nice to be able to have a relaxing dinner at home.” I laughed. He didn’t get the joke.
A lot of people don’t get that joke, but that doesn’t make the point here any less true. If you’re not as successful as you’d like to be in life it’s probably because you’re not that smart, or you’re not making good choices in your life. Maybe you spend too much money downloading music off the internet or eat out at restaurants too often. Maybe you’ve been passed over for promotion because you’ve never opted to stay late at work and help out.
When I hear a tale of woe about some poor person on television or read about it in the newspaper I can almost always point to a reason why that person is poor, and it’s usually their own fault. Like an article about a woman who can’t earn enough working two jobs to support five kids? Why did she choose to have five kids in the first place? And why didn’t it work with her husband? Or maybe an article about a man who says that he can no longer afford his health insurance even as he poses for news pictures in front of a entertainment system complete with surround sound, flat-screen television and a satellite box? With a fancy new cell phone on his belt to boot?
Life is all about the choices we make, and when you make poor ones it’s your own fault not mine. Your inability to be successful is no mortgage upon the success I’ve managed to wrest from the world for myself and my family.
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