You Are Already Wealthy, Stop Complaining!

The following is a guest post by long time reader and entrepreneur, Investor Junkie!  IJ writes about how we should stop our complaining, and realize we are wealthier than the large majority of the world.

If you live in the United States, you are wealthy beyond what most others dream of. Your salary is 99% higher than of the world population.  Visit areas like India, and Africa, and you’ll see what real poverty looks like. If you moved there, you could live like a king! Don’t believe me?  Visit Global Rich List and plug in your yearly salary.

So what exactly does it mean to be wealthy anyways?  It’s all relative to the environment you live in. What might be considered below the poverty level in the USA ($22,050 for a family of four), might be considered well off when living in say Uganda.  According to the Global Rich List even at the US poverty level, you still make more money than 89% of the world.

If you look at the Wikipedia chart, you will see the USA has the most wealth compared to any other country (including Japan). No other country comes close to the USA.  So while you may not feel wealthy comparative to what you see in the media, you still are better off than 99% of the world population.  In terms of average income,  the USA is only 13th in the world, but we still have more stored wealth than any other country.

Stop complaining that you can’t afford that new Lexus you lust for. Many people around the world don’t even own a car! They get from place to place by bicycle. It’s true you may not live like a rock star, famous actor, or business titan, but you live better than most.

Most people in the United States have:

  • Enough food to feed themselves daily
  • A dry, heated and enclosed shelter
  • Enough clothing to wear for one week
  • Reasonably affordable health care and this is before ObamaCare
  • Even if you can’t afford health care, you still will be treated by Medicaid
  • What was once considered luxury items only 10 – 20 years ago, most people own multiple luxury items

How many “poor” people in the United States have items like a TV, computer or a cell phone? These luxury items most people in our country now have and are commonplace. It’s not so bad being poor.   One time in history flying the friendly skies was considered only available for the elite few.  Today, because air flight is so common, it’s one step above bus travel. This once luxury item is now available to most of the population, and with capitalism, at a low price.

With all of this talk about comparing yourself to the world, I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive to better yourself. Instead, be thankful for what you have, compared to the world population.

MORE, MORE, MORE

It’s part of human nature to want more, and unfortunately in some circles it is frowned upon. It is known as the evil G word, greed. Gordon Gekko said it best:

“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

You see greed will always exist regardless of the “ism”. If you live under Socialism, Communism, and especially Capitalism – greed is still there. The thing is with Capitalism, despite its flaws, still appears to be the best economic system to work with human nature.

Milton Friedman said it best:

“What kind of society isn’t structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system”

So why are we better off than 99% of the world population? Why are we economically better off? The only logical conclusion is because of capitalism and the free market system we have. Even with our recent setbacks questioning capitalism, no better system exists. Capitalism is still the best method to raise people out of poverty.

CONCLUSION

Be thankful you live in a society that allows you to exploit greed. In the process, you not only improve your living conditions, but also helped your neighbors in the process. That’s the magic of capitalism. History has shown the United States has raised its living standards to be better than 99% of the world population. We have capitalism and free markets to blame for our success. It has been shown, the more freedom people have in society the more wealth is created. The USA may have creeping Socialism, but we still have much more freedom than many other countries.

If you want to decrease your living standards, continue to approve the path the US government is heading towards.  As history has shown, more government intervention and less free market solutions will lead to a overall poorer nation.

Readers, do you agree with Investor Junkie’s view that we are already wealthy?  If everybody is a millionaire, are we wealthy or just average?Why is it so difficult to realize how good we have it in America?

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Readers, do you agree with Investor Junkie’s view that we are already wealthy?
    Yes, I often even wonder why Obama won with a slogan about “Change”… Why try to “Change” when you are sitting at the top? “Change” doesn’t necessarily have to be a positive thing.

    If everybody is a millionaire, are we wealthy or just average?
    At that point, just average, but a good average. ideally, that’s what a government wants… All the people (who work for it) to be created equally and have equal resources.

    Why is it so difficult to realize how good we have it in America?
    The media… The media constantly display how rich other people are. Making us feel bad if we are less that what is shown on TV… Maybe no on purpose…, but it has an effect.
    .-= Moneyreasons´s last blog ..Pet Costs, a New Spin =-.

  2. says

    I agree with the basic point. There’s no question but that most of us are wealthy indeed by relative standards.

    And I agree that capitalism is generally a good thing. But I don’t at all agree that capitalism is the sole cause of our great wealth.

    Capitalism can cause great inequalities. Inequalities can cause us to miss out on the contributions of some of our best and smartest people. Capitalism pursued in the extreme can hurt us. I don’t feel that I need to be blind to capitalism’s bad side to be pro-capitalist.

    The best capitalism is a measured capitalism. Those who truly love capitalism see its flaws and do what they can to rein in the excesses of capitalism.

    Yes, capitalism has made us rich. It can make us poor too if we become blind to the dangers of this powerful wealth-generation engine.

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Podcast #196 — Valuation-Informed Indexing and Buy-and-Hold Are Opposite Strategies =-.

  3. says

    Thanks FS for allowing me to guest post!

    The thing I *love* about the Milton Friedman video is this could have been taped today! That video is OVER 30 years old. It scary how history not only repeats itself but also rhymes.

    @Moneyreasons
    Yes being in the technology industry I’ve learned change is not always a good thing. Don’t change for change sake.

    My overall theme for this post is we forget how good we got it and what got us to where we are now. It wasn’t socialism that’s for sure.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..What is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP)? =-.

  4. 20smoney says

    Great article and one that I wish mor epeople would read and take to heart. Love the Milton Friedman video!
    .-= 20smoney´s last blog ..Investment Income vs. Online Income =-.

  5. Sandy L says

    Tiimely post. Yesterday my 4 year old told me he wants a house with an elevator. How disturbing.

    I can’t wait for the day we can take him to Africa and show him the family who lives in the dung hut with their cow, no electricity and no running water. The home my mom grew up in Poland didn’t get plumbing until the early 90’s. Kids (and adults) should travel to 3rd world countries to be shown some perspective.

    Seeing the world has really changed me and made me a better person. I think everyone should try to budget some international travel into their lives. Plus, 3rd world countries are very affordable.

  6. Gordie says

    America has the most wealth, but how much of that is true wealth? America is in huge debt in the trillions. The latest bail out sold out the the generation that hasn’t been born yet. How long can the current system last? What’s the alternative?
    .-= Gordie´s last blog ..Why Meditation Is The Rocket Fuel For Lifestyle Design And Personal Development. =-.

  7. says

    @Rob Bennett
    The one thing about Capitalism, is that it gives those who try harder, who have a vision a greater chance to succeed like no other system out there. If this blog sucks, and fails to generate any readership, it’s nobody’s fault but my own.

    @Gordie
    Funny isn’t it, that technically America is BROKE since Obama plans to run a $2.8 trillion deficit. It’s all about using the system to your advantage. If Obama and the gov’t want to hand out bailouts, who are we to not try and get some!

    @canz
    India was truly one of the worst countries I’ve seen for poverty. Unbelievable.

    @Moneyreasons
    The secret to wealth seems to be to just relocate to a poor community, and not tell anybody about what you have. If we just associate with a lot of richer people, then of course we’ll feel poor and complain!
    .-= admin´s last blog ..Let “Freement” Reign! Spending Paralysis, Material Lust And Obsession =-.

  8. says

    @Rob Bennett

    “Capitalism can cause great inequalities. Inequalities can cause us to miss out on the contributions of some of our best and smartest people. Capitalism pursued in the extreme can hurt us. I don’t feel that I need to be blind to capitalism’s bad side to be pro-capitalist.”

    Hi Rob,

    If Capitalism isn’t the cause of our great wealth what else is it then? Has it been luck for all these 100+ years? Has it been our availability of natural resources? At least for me it’s the entrepreneurial spirit that has made this country so great.

    Unfettered Capitalism can be bad as you state and don’t believe we should have that either. Some checks and balances need to be in place. My question to the readers here, does our government *really* need to tell advertisers their commercials are too loud and regulate them??

    http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/2010/01/12/too-loud-tv-commercial-bill-passed-the-house/

    To me something like this is NOT what our government should be doing. All I see in the comments in that post is the TV stations and advertisers are “evil” for pumping up the volume.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..What is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP)? =-.

  9. says

    If Capitalism isn’t the cause of our great wealth what else is it then?

    I think capitalism has been a big part of it, Investor Junkie. I certainly see capitalism as a positive.

    We part company when you suggest that greed is good. I view greed as being an excessive love of money.

    I would like to make millions of dollars. Capitalism may permit me to do that. If it does, I will take the money with no apologies. I will have earned it.

    But there are lines that I will not cross in pursuit of those millions. If I cross those lines, then I feel that I have fallen into the trap of becoming greedy. I feel that I can be pro-capitalism without being pro-greed.

    Capitalism combined with guardrails made our country great. Toss out capitalism and we will fail. Toss out the guardrails and we will fail.

    I favor balance. I love the good part of capitalism. It does indeed encourage innovation, which helps us all. But the greed stuff can get out of control if we are not careful. So I favor keeping an eye on that stuff too.

    When capitalists become greedy it hurts the cause of capitalism because it causes such destruction that people become sickened with the entire capitalism project. We are living through such a time today, in my assessment. I believe that capitalism is in danger today and that it is largely the fault of capitalism’s fiercest advocates, who sometimes let their enthusiasm for a good thing compromise their appreciation for the need for balance.

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Podcast #196 — Valuation-Informed Indexing and Buy-and-Hold Are Opposite Strategies =-.

  10. says

    If this blog sucks, and fails to generate any readership, it’s nobody’s fault but my own.

    I disagree, Sam.

    Capitalism gives you a chance and I’m all for that. But capitalism doesn’t always get it right, in my experience.

    “Revolver” was a fantastic album. It was a huge success. Score one for capitalism.

    “The White Album” was weak tea indeed. It was a huge success. Score one against capitalism.

    You can say that it’s just my opinion that “The White Album” was weak tea. But I cannot say that I think it was a good album. According to my assessment of the realities, I have to say that capitalism failed re that one. I’m happy that people had the choice to buy the album. But I don’t believe that capitalism delivered a good result in that case. And there are lots of cases like that that I can think of.

    I am happy to live in a capitalist country. But I don’t see capitalism as being an unalloyed good. I’m happy to give capitalism two cheers — but not three cheers. I see flaws that need to be ironed out and I feel that if we give it three cheers we run the risk of losing interest in doing the work it would take to iron out the flaws.

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Podcast #196 — Valuation-Informed Indexing and Buy-and-Hold Are Opposite Strategies =-.

  11. says

    @Gordie

    Hi Gordie,

    I look at it this way. The government and your personal wealth are really independent of each other. Think of it like a rich drug overlord in South America. :-) While they may be rich the country itself is not. Also once you get to a certain level of wealth you can live anywhere you choose. It’s the poor that are stuck in that country and are affected the most by what you state.

    If say our government collapsed (I’m not saying it will), I’ll setup shop in another country. Globalism is here and here to stay.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..What is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP)? =-.

  12. Kevin M says

    The problem with wealth is – it’s all relative. You have a nice house, 2 cars but then one day your neighbor gets a boat. So you “have to” get a boat to make yourself feel wealthy/successful again. Most people don’t care that 99% of the world is poorer than us – and not poorer meaning they can’t buy an Iphone (or Lexus as the post said), poor meaning lacking food, water, shelter – they care what their neighbors or friends are doing. The corporate advertising machine is winning, which means we’re all losing.

    If anything, this post is an example that just because one has wealth that does not make him happy.

  13. says

    How so true Investor Junkie! My husband and I are from different parts of the world, now living the American dream. We do make a ginormous amount compared to our local peers (although this is offset by how much more expensive stuff is over here!) We were thrilled to bits that we could save a significant portion of our income last year. So for fun, we decided to calculate how many years we could survive, if we were to save the same amount for 2 more years and move back to my hometown. Guess what? We would be able to live comfortably (I mean going out, not depriving ourselves of our current lifestyle, etc) for 25 years!!!
    .-= thriftygal´s last blog ..7 Ways We Throw Money Away by Not Paying Attention =-.

  14. says

    An inadvertently timely post, with the horror in Haiti right now, post-earthquake. It’s a perfect example of the haves and have-nots — their buildings weren’t anywhere near up to a U.S. code and couldn’t withstand the tremors; the Haitian people are poor and didn’t have a lot to begin with and now, they have almost nothing. The difference between living in the U.S. and living in a poor/underdeveloped nation should make us all count our blessings every damned day.
    .-= RainyDaySaver´s last blog ..Looking Forward to Payday… =-.

  15. says

    @Rob Bennett
    Hmm you aren’t mixing greed by doing things illegal, immoral or unethical? I’m certainly not saying this, nor do I condone it and don’t consider this greed.

    Self destructive greed doesn’t do anyone good for the long haul. Meaning if I knowingly sell bad goods, I may make a short term gains (by being self destructive greedy) but a long term loose as I will not have repeat customers and word gets out I’m a sham. Some proponents of Ayn Rand work get confused with her statements about people should be care about their self interests.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..What is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP)? =-.

  16. says

    Here in the US, we have many things that other people in poorer countries could only hope for; clean water, shelter, food. The US was and still is based on independence, freedom, and a determination to better ourselves. We are a young government compared to most of the world, we’re still evolving (but I don’t think we’ll ever end up as a socialist government). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to better ourselves, but I think there is a problem with lusting after material things. The media plays a huge part in this.

    So to answer your question, yes we are wealthy compared to other countries, but not technically millionaires. We have difficulty seeing our good fortune because the media constantly shows us people who appear better off, making us lust after more and more “things.”
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..The True Cost of Chocolate =-.

  17. says

    @thriftygal

    Unfortunately being a born in the USA, I can on imagine what it’s like to come from other country and do what you’ve done! There is a reason why so many people come to the US and I believe you mention one of them. They don’t call it the “Amercian Dream” for nuthin.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..What is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP)? =-.

  18. says

    @RainyDaySaver

    I love playing devil’s advocate…

    Could we flip it and say it was the lack of government intervention caused the creation of poor quality buildings? After all California building codes are pretty strict and if in the bay area they have a earthquake of this level the damage would not anywhere near as bad.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..What is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP)? =-.

  19. says

    Self destructive greed doesn’t do anyone good for the long haul. Meaning if I knowingly sell bad goods, I may make a short term gains (by being self destructive greedy) but a long term loose as I will not have repeat customers and word gets out I’m a sham.

    This is the part we don’t agree on, Investor Junkie.

    The suggestion here is that there is some sort of magic force that insures that no one who engages in bad behavior ever sees a long-term financial reward for doing so. I believe that there are lots and lots of people who see great long-term financial rewards for engaging in bad behavior. That doesn’t make capitalism bad. It just means that capitalism doesn’t by itself solve all of our problems.

    Your reference to Ayn Rand suggests the source of the divide. I am a huge fan of Rand’s novels. I think she effectively makes lots of great points. But I also think she is wrong about a lot of stuff. She suggests that capitalism is morality. I would say that capitalism tempered with a strong moral system is wonderful and that unbridled capitalism is a disaster. I believe that our country became great because we long tempered capitalism with morality. But we are now getting a glimpse of what capitalism without moral bearings looks like and the early results are not encouraging.

    Rob
    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Podcast #196 — Valuation-Informed Indexing and Buy-and-Hold Are Opposite Strategies =-.

  20. says

    @Rob Bennett

    Yea it basically comes down to you believe by default most people are good, or bad. I believe most people are good natured by default, with a few bad seeds.

    It would be cool if we could create petri dishes (perhaps something like the “Matrix”?) and try different “isms” and adjust the options and see which one would work out the best. I too agree a completely free market would be bad, but very curious what would really happen.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..What is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP)? =-.

  21. 20smoney says

    @Rob Bennett
    “But we are now getting a glimpse of what capitalism without moral bearings looks like”

    I completely disagree. We’re getting a glimpse of what chrony capitalism looks like, or what it looks like when government politically motivated policy gets in the way of free market principles.

    Evil Goldman Sachs would have taken a huge hit if their buddies in government didn’t bail them out (and AIG) in the name of “securing the financial system”.

    When you remove failure, we no longer have capitalism. We haven’t had capitalism for some time.
    .-= 20smoney´s last blog ..A Couple Trades I’m Watching… =-.

  22. says

    There’s a great video on YouTube somewhere that did the rounds over on this side of the pond intercutting footage of Americans saying they were suffering in the downturn with people driving speedboats and taking delivery of cars.

    Obviously it was very subjective – and income inequality is very real everywhere – but boy was it funny.

    I love Americans as a rule – you guys are some of the most warm and generous people on the planet in my experience, and it’s a shame that doesn’t translate into the global perception.

    But that said, as a rule many Americans really don’t realize how relatively wealthy they are compared to the rest of the world.

    I’m not saying Brits or Europeans aren’t equally relatively wealthy.

    But whereas we get a huge guilt complex about it, as a stereotype you guys complain about the extra 2 cents on your gas and demand the President’s head. ;)
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Bashed but not bashful bankers to get their bonuses =-.

  23. says

    I agree with IJ but would like to add the caveat wealth is a relative term. If your definition of wealth is living in a mansion with servants and a chauffeur and you make $100k then you’re not going to think you’re wealthy. This is probably why we don’t realize how good we have it in America because we’ve always tried to keep up with Joneses. We’ve always wanted more, more, more and that’s partly what got the economy into such a financial mess.

    Two of my favorite wealth quotes are:

    “The wealth of a man is the number of things which he loves and blesses, which he is loved and blessed by.” – Thomas Carlyle

    “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” – Epicurus

    However, no one would disagree we are already wealthy and one of the wealthiest nations by anyone’s standards. It wasn’t until the Chinese embraced their inner capitalist that they became such an economic powerhouse. Greed and the desire for a better life motivate us to work harder and longer and take more risks. Without risk there are no big rewards; what a boring world it would be if everything we did was safe and conservative!

    Just think about all the poor people in Haiti who would love to be “poor” by our standards, with a reliable infrastructure, readily available healthcare, public education, public transportation, public libraries, an abundant food supply, cheap gas (yes, cheap by the world’s standards), etc. The earthquake is going to be much worse than if it happened in the US because they are simply not equipped to deal with a disaster of this magnitude.

    Great post IJ, I’m looking forward to spending some time on your site tonight.
    .-= David @ MBA briefs´s last blog ..Eight Random Things About Me =-.

  24. Kosmo @ The Casual Observer says

    When I graduated from college, I immediately took a job where I made more than my parents (who owned a small farm). I wasn’t even in a particularly high paying field at the time. Twelve years later, my wife and I make considerably more than either set of parents ever dream of.

    I sit behind a desk all day in a comfortably heated/cooled building.

    I agree – I don’t have anything to complain about, other than the fact that the designated hitter is a blemish upon the face of baseball. Other than that, I’m good.
    .-= Kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Attack of the Silver Carp =-.

  25. says

    @ IJ, question for you, giving all we’re hearing on TV now is an assault on bonuses in the finance industry.

    Given you are a big believer in capitalism and taking advantage of greed, why is there such an uproar against bonuses, if these institutions made the money, and also lost a lot of money in the downturn? The public gave 60bil to BOA, Citi, Wells in Nov/Dec, so why is the public complaining again?

    Tiger Woods made $100mil a year, bc he produced 1bil a year in rev. 10% of rev sounds fair no?

    Are we inherently a society who believes in Socialism, because we are jealous beings?

  26. 20smoney says

    @admin
    Well put; however, the main problem here is that these companies received government aid / taxpayer dollars.

    The rule is simple: don’t bail out companies and keep quiet regarding compensation.
    .-= 20smoney´s last blog ..A Couple Trades I’m Watching… =-.

    • says

      @ 20smoney – But you and your friends and family just helped BOAML, Wells, and Citi raise $60 billion last Nov/December in their equity offering, so they can pay you back (TARP), so they can pay themselves bonuses. Why is the public complaining now?

  27. says

    @admin

    On the whole people love scapegoats, and our government has painted the bankers in such a evil light. Of course you’ll never hear from anyone in government that maybe there were the cause of any of this? I’m not saying they were the root cause but a major player definitely.

    I have nothing against people making outrageous salaries. I do have issue with them getting big salaries right after we gave them our tax dollars (granted the healthy banks were forced to accept the money as to not display the truly weak banks…cough BOA & Citi)) They would no longer exist if it weren’t for the tax payer stopgap.

    GS made a killing because of the insiders they had within our government. Like 20smoney said crony capitalism is really the root of these issues. Our government decided who would fail and who will win. Why did Lehman Brothers fail while GS thrived? If you remember GS was heading down the same path as Lehman and more than likely would have folded. Warren Buffett bet the govt would get involved and took their bluff. He’s made out like a bandit in the process.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..What is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP)? =-.

  28. says

    @Monevator
    Hey mate, the reason why we don’t realize how fortunate we are is because the majority of Americans have NEVER left the country, nor speak another language well. We are sheltered, self-centered citizens who expect things to come to us.

    Gas is a great example. So cheap here compared to the rest of the world, but Americans don’t realize the ROW pays 2X.

    Just wondering, how come Brits don’t invent hot things like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Apple, etc? Where is the inventive and capitalism spirit of the English? You guys created HArry Potter, but what else? :)
    .-= admin´s last blog ..Let “Freement” Reign! Spending Paralysis, Material Lust And Obsession =-.

  29. says

    @admin:
    ***The public gave 60bil to BOA, Citi, Wells in Nov/Dec, so why is the public complaining again?***

    Forgive me for sounding ignorant, but wasn’t it the government that bailed out these failing institutions? Yes I know the government represents the public, but if there had been a referendum, what % of the public would have really endorsed the bailout?
    .-= thriftygal´s last blog ..7 Ways We Throw Money Away by Not Paying Attention =-.

  30. says

    Thriftygal – The government funds come from tax revenue, which comes from the people. Hence, in this case, the govt is the people. If the people didn’t want to bailout these institutions, the govt wouldn’t have bailed them out.

    Watch what the people do with their money, not what they say. The people want these bailed out institutions to succeed and get paid big bonuses, bc the people want to make money from their invesments.

    Everything is rational.

  31. Charlie says

    I agree. Lean Life Coach makes a good point about it all being relative. Cost of living has to be included in the equation too.

  32. says

    @admin
    “Cronyism is everywhere, even in the PF blogosphere” Well yes to a degree. If you don’t like one PF group you can choose others. If you don’t like any, you have the power to start your cronies!

    If you don’t like what the government does (at least outside of elections) what do you do? What other choices do you have? If the government mandates one group/company wins, while another looses you are pretty much stuck.
    .-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..What is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP)? =-.

  33. says

    @admin Well I have some sympathy because America is such a vast country, you’ve plenty to explore without the danger of losing your front teeth down the back of your throat trying to pronounce the name of a station you want to get to in Germany or a start in Spain. ;)

    Inventing – I presume that’s something of a windup? It happened to be a British person who invented HTML that makes the whole Internet possible (Tim Berners-Lee) And Britain has an immense record way above its population size in patents and nobel prizes etc.

    In terms of Internet start-ups specifically, well you have a point I admit. :) There have been UK based startups (e.g. Skype and Runescape) and ARM – which designs the chips in virtual all mobile phones, iPods etc – is a UK based company.

    People are pretty entrepreneurial here, though not as much as in the US. But what we really lack is the West Coast (California/Seattle). The benefit of clustering is immense.

    Britain also has a powerful financial industry but it’s mainly about financial innovation and banking etc – the VC community is pretty weak. There’s not a lot of people who’d back any of those startups here (in fact Skype was backed by the US IIRC).

    Finally, the British creative industry isn’t great at scale. We’re good at innovation, but not amazing at turning it into a cookie cutter. (So we can create Jonathan Ives – a Brit – but he has to go to Apple to design the iMac, iPod etc).
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Bashed but not bashful bankers to get their bonuses =-.

  34. says

    @Investor Junkie
    Good point about not having any other choice. We can always denounce our citizenship, and stay American but live overseas thereby avoiding some taxes.

    @Monevator
    Hmmm….. didn’t realize Skype was British. But if Skype and Runescape is the best you can come up with, I donno, doesn’t seem that impressive frankly! Didn’t realize HTML was invested by a Brit too. Learning something new!

    You’ve got to admit, the dearth of innovation out of England is a little concerning. It’s weird why there’s so little innovation, where sitting here in Silicon Valley, there is TONS of innovation and people getting enormously wealthy. Are Brits just happy with status quo? Nothing wrong with that.

  35. says

    We are wealthy but it doesn’t matter because like time, it’s relative.

    We are the frog…

    Put a frog in a pot of boiling water and it freaks out, screams and struggles and thrashes to get out until eventually it dies.

    Put a frog in a pot cool water and he floats happily. Turn up the heat and the pot slowly rises in temperature. The frog never recognizes the change until eventually it’s too late. The frog becomes desensitized.

    We have become desensitized because most of us don’t have anything to compare our relative wealth to.

    Go Capitalism!
    .-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..Eight Random Things About Me… =-.

  36. says

    Yep, as I say Silicon Valley / California is why the US has industrial innovation (if that’s what we’ll call the Internet). Take that out of the equation and you’re just like anywhere else.

    It’s a massive advantage, having the world’s smartest people fly in to join you to make a fortune every day. Very hard to replicate – and countless Governments have tried.

    China probably has the best bet with its economic free zones, for very weird and different reasons.

    There are many more examples than Skype and Runescape. Brits invent stacks of stuff, as I say. We’re not particularly good at commercializing it though, I’m not going to argue otherwise.

    Hell, CommentLuv is based in the UK, and you’re a big fan of that! :)
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Bashed but not bashful bankers to get their bonuses =-.

  37. Valentina says

    ….and don’t forget Canada!

    So many good points here … greed caught my attention. It is all semantics after all … ambition and greed are shades of the same coin after all yet one sounds honorable the other evil.

    Yes, the United States is slipping into socialism – here in Canada we are perhaps in deeper than you. The problem with socialism as I see it is that the more people want for nothing, the more they get for nothing, the lower the society sinks. I read a book recently by a noted First Nation author (that would be native Indian pre-politically correct times) and he said that the best and easiest way to kill a people is to have them do nothing and give them everything.

    He was of course referring to the sad state of affairs that the natives of North America have come to as a result of being”taken care of” by the government (at least here in Canada). Not quite communism but along the same parallel. Communism espoused equality … let us all be equally poor before we become equally rich (except for the “greedy” elite who of course lived in luxury while the schmucks worked like the devil to keep alive). I see that we are once again on that slippery slope with the promise by your esteemed president to “change the fundamentals” and the call by some world leaders for the redistribution of wealth (the “leaders” tend to be heads of state of very poor countries – hmmm. gimme, gimme, gimme … many of those countries are poor because of mismanagment and rife corruption). They are not talking about floating the boat up to the standards of North America but rather to lowering the standards of living in North America so that other nations can rise. I cite Haiti as an example. One of the poorest in the world. It shares the same island in the Caribbean as the Dominican Republic which while poor is by no means as destitute as Haiti. There isn’t a heck of a lot of difference in terms of resources, topography, peoples …

    Capitalism is not perfect but it has its own checks and balances and if the government hadn’t decided to bail out poor performers (I know, much more complex than that) then a correction of a different sort would have taken course. Without a doubt it would have been tough … but as someone so aptly said in an earlier comment, the minute the government takes away the ability (or right) to fail, the government is taking away your freedom.

    Yes we enjoy a standard of living that is envied worldwide. But we’re getting damn lazy and if the government(s) keep giving us more and more of what we ask for, we’ll soon be nothing more than puppets on a string!

    Long live capitalism and its various incarnations (surely China’s is a hybrid) – warts and all, its still the best system that we’ve got!

    best……………valentina
    .-= Valentina´s last blog ..Niche and keyword research for your blog =-.

  38. Sandy L says

    @Monevator. I think the Brits are great at non tangible things (like banks and marketing). I mean wasn’t it one of you guys who started insuring celebrity body parts? You used to have a fairly large steel/chemical presence too (I’m a ChE and have worked there).

    I think that because of the wallstreet meltdown, there is a growing number of people in the “people should start making THINGS again” camp. I used to work at GE and they are going that route, trying to market themselves as a manufacturing company again, when for years 1/2 their revenue was coming from their financial division.

    Regarding Bonuses..call me crazy, but isn’t it pretty easy to make a profit on money that didn’t cost you anything to borrow? Let’s just say I got a $40B 0% interest loan for 6 months and I did nothing but put it in some kind of bond..I’d still make a boatload of money? Do I deserve a bonus for that?

  39. Geek says

    When I read the title of this post, I knew what the content would be, more or less. It’s what people say when a company doesn’t hand out Cost-of-Living Raises on average in a year, or what your mom says to you when you’re unhappy.
    Socialism talk was a bit of a surprise though, not that I agree or disagree.

    I’m still aiming for “independently wealthy++”. I know exactly how good I have it, and I want it better.

  40. says

    Sandy L, I totally agree about the bonus situation, and wrote about it on my site yesterday. (@Sam and I like to have our debates about this, but I think he still reads me really…)

    I think you’re right about Britain, although of course the industrial revolution was here (I didn’t want to bore Sam with our inventions from the Steam Engine to discovering DNA ;-) )

    Incredibly Britain is still in the top 6 or 7 manufacturing nations *by value*, if I recall correctly, due to high end goods, but you wouldn’t think it if you were here. All hairdressers, shops and bankers.

    Yes, you’re right about the chemical industry, though a fair bit of that was bought up by foreign firms.
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..How to run your portfolio like a hedge fund =-.

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