All entries for Wednesday 11 May 2005

May 11, 2005

The Millionaire Club

George Mason University economist Walter E. Williams has a new article at townhall.com on the growing legion of millionaires in the United States.

While becoming a millionaire by age 17 is rare, eventually becoming a millionaire isn't. According to TNS Financial Services' 2004 Affluent Market Research survey, there are an estimated 8.2 million American households with assets, excluding primary residences, worth over $1 million. That's a 33 percent increase over the 6.2 million millionaire households in 2003.

Williams sees growth in the number of people in this ‘elite’ group as evidence of social mobility within the country. When financial progression is so prevalent, feelings of self pity and resentment are highly unproductive. He ends with a query

Here's my question for you: What are we to make of people who preach pessimism and doom to people — telling them that they're poor because others are rich or telling blacks that they'll never make it because of societal racism? What are we to make of politicians, media pundits and college professors who preach the politics of envy — telling people lies that the rich became rich off the backs of the poor? I grew up poor in a housing project in North Philadelphia, and those weren't the lessons prevalent a half-century ago. My mother used to preach that "We have a beer pocketbook but champagne tastes." And my stepfather used to admonish, "If you want to make it in this world, you have to come early and stay late." Those messages are far more beneficial to a poor person than those of victimhood and pity. Personally, I like evangelical minister Reverend Ike's response when asked what should we do about the poor. He said, "The best thing you can do for the poor is not become one.

Read the full article here.

As Nassim Taleb would day, random events much more influence on our lives than we’d like to admit. That said there’s a high likelihood that a perchant for risk taking and hard work (or rather working ‘smart’) will yield returns. As I said in this post, we should be creating an environment in which such things are encouraged; an environment in which poverty is merely temporary for those with enough desire.


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