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. You are already wealthy, stop complaining!
If you find yourself complaining, 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.
There are simply too many spoiled and clueless people who don’t know how good they have it.
Always Wanting More And 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.
If you want to make over $1 million a year, then you’re going to have to get really lucky and get really motivated.
You Area Already Wealthy, Appreciate What You Have
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.
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About the Author: Sam began investing his own money ever since he opened a Charles Schwab brokerage account online in 1995. Sam loved investing so much that he decided to make a career out of investing by spending the next 13 years after college working at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse Group. During this time, Sam received his MBA from UC Berkeley with a focus on finance and real estate. He also became Series 7 and Series 63 registered.
In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $250,000 a year in passive income. Much of the boost comes from his real estate crowdfunding investments. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, consulting for leading fintech companies, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.
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Speaking as some one isn’t wealthy and probably never will be. Wealth comes in many forms and not just monitor values, if my family are all happy and health then whose to say I’m not wealthy, I might not have a bean , but I do have everything I need in my life. So that will do me nicely
Um, have you actually visited India or Africa? To live like a “King” there it takes a hefty bank account. Sure, you can live there for 1/10, or even less, of what you spent here in the US but be prepared to live like the average person in a cramped building (assuming you have a building) and eat once a day. Living to a higher standard takes $.
Yet another example of how something not related to finances will actually teach you more about the very subject.
In order to gain perspective, people should take the time to travel – and I don’t mean to an all-inclusive resort! Experiencing different places allows you to appreciate the basic things that we so easily take advantage of (don’t get me started on clean water).
As the author notes, financial security is truly what is important. The term wealth has become somewhat tainted as it has a tendency to be used in the same sentence as “excess”. Whether your account has 0, 1, or 3 commas – odds are we’re all doing pretty well.
*Hope the gravatar loads alright
Interesting. Be sure to let me know when you reveal your mystery! I totally recommend you be more greedy for money for your own sake, and for your family’s. There’s so much money out there, might as well get some of it, which others are taking advantage of.
Investor Junkie says
I’m not saying be evil or be an ass, be self destructive or anything like that. Ultimately you have to lookout for yourself (and family if married) best interest. I think greed comes from self preservation.
IMHO I believe psychology plays a large part of with business, investing and with money. How you feel about money definitely affects your decisions.
I’m thinking about some blog posts to write about the subject, not sure what angle to go with yet.
.-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..Expect Even Lower Bank Rates =-.
Money Funk – You’re right, the weather here in LA is amazing! 70 degrees or something huh? Ill be at Shutters on The Beach this afternoon if you want to meet up. Lol
What new stage in your life are you referring to?
Geek – Socialism is not bad, so long as you reap the rewards equally by what you contribute, or have everybody else pay for expenses except for yourself.
Investor Junkie says
Hey I have no issue with greed. Being greedy can help the overall good. The issue I have is people are not being thankful for what you already have. Realize not everyone is as fortunate to live in this country and live the way we live.
.-= Investor Junkie´s last blog ..Expect Even Lower Bank Rates =-.
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.
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.
The Financial blogger says
I agree with you, when you think about what is going on in Haiti, you feel pretty rich!
We are lucky to be born in North America, we just don’t realize it everyday!
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?
….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!
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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! :)
Fantastic analogy Lean! Very well described.
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.
.-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..Eight Random Things About Me… =-.
Good point about not having any other choice. We can always denounce our citizenship, and stay American but live overseas thereby avoiding some taxes.
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.
@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).
Investor Junkie says
“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.
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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.
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.
***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?
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JOhn DeFlumeri Jr says
I respect this kind of socially responsible commentary. I write this type article myself all the time too.
John DeFlumeri jr
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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? :)
Cronyism is everywhere, even in the PF blogosphere! I think I’ll post somewhat relating to this topic tomorrow. It’s partly about having powerful friends, and powerful “cronies”. It’ll be a fun challenge.
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Investor Junkie says
@David @ MBA briefs
Thanks for the great comments! Yes I was implying that wealth is most definitely a relative term.
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