The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rich man, poor man

While perusing some articles in various papers, I continuously come across comments that try to advance the "hate the rich" mindset.

I suppose hating the rich is only natural. After all, they have money and we (the not rich) don't... at least, not as much as they do. We used to just call that "envy" and "jealousy" and it was frowned upon as "not seemly" and "immature." I think we have moved on from that mindset of late.

Like immigration, whose popularity waxes and wanes with the shifts in the economy of a nation, so too does the attitude toward the wealthy. We like them, more or less, when times are good. We resent them when times are tough.

But we forget they are impacted by tough times also.

The Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) for 2010 provides insights into changes in family income and net worth since the 2007 survey.1 The survey shows that, over the 2007–10 period, the median value of real (inflation-adjusted) family income before taxes fell 7.7 percent; median income had also fallen slightly in the preceding three-year period (figure 1). The decline in median income was widespread across demographic groups, with only a few groups experiencing stable or rising incomes.Most noticeably, median incomes moved higher for retirees and other nonworking families. The decline in median income was most pronounced among more highly educated families, families headed by persons aged less than 55, and families living in the South and West regions. Real mean income fell even more than median income in the recent period, by 11.1 percent across all families. The decline in mean income was even more widespread than the decline in median income, with virtually all demographic groups experiencing a decline between 2007 and 2010; the decline in the mean was most pronounced in the top 10 percent of the income distribution and for higher education or wealth groups. Over the preceding three years, mean income had risen, especially for high-net-worth families and families headed by a person who was self-employed.

It is a bit hard to view someone with a mansion or two and a jet as a "victim" of hard times but I think back to the adage of "bet big to win big" and remember its corollary "the more you bet, the more you can lose."

Lee Trevino used to talk about the pressure to make putts (and play well) like this: "Pressure is playing for ten dollars when you don't have a dime in your pocket."

I was standing at a craps table in Vegas back in the early 80's next to a guy with a stack of hundred dollar bills. He was betting and losing a few on every roll. I thought "If you're just gonna toss them away, I'll take them off your hands." Then I realized he was treating them as I would one dollar chips. Material wealth is relative, I realized then, and it changed how I viewed the wealthy.

I began to look at the wealthy differently than I had been. I began to realize they started, funded, and ran most charities in modern times. The companies they owned and/or ran and the ones they invested their money in were the ones that employed the most people. They bought items I couldn't afford and, because of that, those things often became more affordable.

Think about that last statement. Example: flat screen TVs started out at outrageous prices, something like $14,000 for a 36" plasma display. Now they are under $500 for that and the LED/LCD types. Without the wealthy, they would never have got off the ground.

The wealthy buy expensive cars with all the options. Eventually, those options get offered on more affordable vehicles. GPS navigation systems, phone hookups, all wheel drive, back up cameras, and more would never have happened to the family sedan if it hadn't been for the wealthy buying this stuff in their BMW's, their Maseratis, their Jaguars, and even their Caddies...

And, admit it, you want to be rich. We all do. That's why we buy lottery tickets.


Torggil said...

Boomer, to extent, you're quite right.  But I believe, that while most rich people doll themselves up by buying all that, I have known at least one etremely wealthy individual who lived fairly modestly.  Modest by his wealth standard house.  2 cars, neither of them a BMW or caddie, and a respectable family man.  Okay the cars weren't Corollas either, and the house was impressive, but you had to bet inside to see that...

What he said often enough was you have to  look after the nickels and dimes, but remember the dollars take care of themselves.

I know I haven't commented on your blog much lately, but I do still read it.  The fact is, at work, my old job that is, I was flat out unable to comment.

Douglas4517 said...

 The rich, like the poor, are not monolithic.

Don't worry about the commenting. I had a similar problem at my old job; they blocked me from accessing online crossword puzzles on the company computer. Frustrating. First the porn sites then the crossword puzzles... did they expect us to do actual work on these things?