The wealthy: Perpetually jet-skiing around a fountain filled with champagne, while we poor suckers are stuck 'tubing around a pond filled with malt liquor. But being rich isn't exactly like you picture it. Nobody's asking you to cry for the wealthy, mind you -- we're just saying that you might not have known ...
Extra money in your bank account means less stress. You don't have to worry about making rent or paying bills. If you're really rich, you never have to worry about working at all. Your leisure time extends 24 hours a day for the next 80 years. While all the rest of us humps are working for the weekend, you're letting your dividends pay for a weekend partying with The Weeknd. Must be nice.
"That Tony Montana guy has so much cocaine, I bet he never has to think about it at all. He's got so much. Must be nice to sit back and do as much cocaine as you want with zero consequences, never having to worry about cocaine. Must be nice."
Doesn't quite work, does it?
And big spending can be every bit as addictive as cocaine. Psychologists have coined the term "wealth fatigue syndrome" to describe a set of symptoms commonly found in the super rich: clinical depression, paranoia, and out-of-control spending. Without having something to do, like a day job, many people choose not to do anything productive at all. Sure, we all think we'd dedicate our lives to our families, or helping the needy, or finally pursuing our passions -- but we also think we're going to go to the gym on our day off, and look at how that usually turns out.
Endless, mindless spending is a lot more fun than charity work. But the more you spend, the more you want to spend, like with any addictive behavior. Psychologists working in the wealth fatigue field tell insane stories of people buying multi-million-dollar properties and spending millions more to completely redesign them, only to become disgusted with the project once it's done, scrapping the whole thing to start over, and over, and over.
Maybe that's why rich neighborhoods have unusually high suicide rates. Spending your insane money until you're broke is certainly a better addiction than, say, smoking crack until you die from smoking too much crack. But a crippling addiction is still a crippling addiction. It's right there in the name.
Wealthy parents can afford every conceivable advantage for their kids. From fancy private schools to top-notch tutors to only the prettiest polo horses, the rich spare no expense on their progeny. That's why the children of wealthy parents are the most prepared to succeed.
Researchers have found that children from wealthier backgrounds report significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety. They're also more likely to cheat and steal (two-thirds of teen girls in England who were caught shoplifting come from wealthy backgrounds). And maybe all of this is because of one simpler truth: The wealthier you are, the more likely you are to leave your child alone at home.
If you're rich and you want to give your kid the best life possible, you might be best off moving to a middle-class neighborhood and donating 80 percent of your net wealth to a worthy charity. You're totally gonna do that, right, rich people?
If you're from a rich family, you're set for life. If you're lucky enough to have an ancestor famous for doing something profitably horrible, chances are you and your descendants are capitalist royalty, and always will be.
Wealthy families are walking along a financial cliff and could plummet at any moment. No matter how much you earn, a boneheaded son named Chaz can blow it terrifyingly quickly. Wealth consultancy firm the Williams Group studied wealthy families and discovered that 90 percent of them lose their wealth by the third generation.
Of course, that's doesn't mean jack for us peasants' near-total lack of social mobility. In study after study, researchers also found that parents' income is a depressingly accurate predictor of their children's income. Most of this seems to be environmental, rather than genetics-based, but that's cold comfort to people who can't afford to move their families out of poorer environments.
Now, if most wealthy families lose their wealth by the third generation, and social mobility is near impossible from the bottom, it's less like the wealthy are born atop an ivory tower, and more like they're born atop a mountain filled with gold. Climbing the mountain is far harder -- nobody's disputing that -- but still, one wrong step at the top will destroy you.
If you raise taxes on the wealthy, they'll just up and move somewhere else. That's why we have to keep our tax rates competitive with places like Monaco, lest our tuxedo-wearing, baccarat-playing citizens up and leave and take their massive wealth with them.
Stanford researchers looked at millions of tax records over a period of 17 years, and found that millionaires don't flee the country at every tax hike. In fact, they usually don't even flee the state. The most important factor in where millionaires chose to live was, perhaps unsurprisingly, their personal connections. And millionaires were less likely to move than the general population, because "family responsibilities and business ownership are higher among top income-earners."
According to a study by New World Wealth, millionaires have been flocking to Australia, the U.S., and Canada, not because they can keep more of their cash, but because of schools, safety, climate, business opportunities, and healthcare. In fact, taxes were one of the least important factors in the move (which, again, is something you might have been able to figure out by asking yourself whether more millionaires live in Malibu or Wyoming).
Sure, if given the choice of moving to the U.S. or an exact copy of the U.S. but with a 50 percent lower tax rate, rich people would go with the latter. But until we develop a way to travel between hypothetical scenarios, it shouldn't be a concern.
Heartless stockbrokers, corporate CEOs, and stars of entertaining YouTube channels. Those are professions for the rich. Well, those and "playboy/crimefighter." But that's pretty much the only way to make the big bucks.
Most millionaires don't have business cards that read "cutthroat business tycoon." The most common occupation for millionaires is management. The reason is simple: There are more managers in America than there are evil stockbrokers and privileged Batmen. Plus, being a huge corporate CEO and/or managing a dual identity doesn't leave much time for home life, which relegates their household to single-income status. A high-paying, high-octane job can actually decrease your household's net worth if it keeps your spouse from working too. On the other hand, also keep in mind that love is a vulnerability which will inevitably be used against any and all Batmen.
In fact, corporate executives only make up 7 percent of millionaires. Entrepreneurs / business owners? Just 6 percent. The most common degree among the rich is in engineering, followed by no degree at all. They just worked their way up to the top (of middle management).
Of course, the fact that most one-percenters are managers does not mean that most managers are one-percenters, so maybe don't whip out the ol' torch and pitchfork for Dale, your local Staples manager, just yet.
For reasons to not feel sorry for the wealthy, check out 5 Unbelievable Ways Rich Assholes Get To Cheat Through Life and 5 Things You Learn About Rich People Working at a Nice Hotel.
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