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Continuing the analysis of the Yahoo! Finance article 21 Ways Rich People Think Differenly, a condensed “interview” with Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think.

1. Average people think MONEY is the root of all evil. Rich people believe POVERTY is the root of all evil.

“The average person has been brainwashed to believe rich people are lucky or dishonest,” Siebold writes.

That’s why there's a certain shame that comes along with “getting rich” in lower-income communities.

“The world class knows that while having money doesn’t guarantee happiness, it does make your life easier and more enjoyable.”

I’m not even sure where to begin here.

First of all, the three body paragraphs have nothing to do with the heading. The heading is one statement, the next two paragraphs are another, and the last paragraph is a third. And, while the statements are all sort of in the same general category, they really have very little to do with each other. So this point is really three separate points. This is a pattern that repeats itself later in the article, too.

Point #1: Two misquotes

Mr. Siebold claims that “average people” think that “money is the root of all evil”, but that “rich people” believe that “poverty is the root of all evil.”

While the second one is obviously a deliberate rephrasing, the first one is an actual misquotation. The phrase is not “Money is the root of all evil,” but “The love of money is the root of all evil.” There is a definite distinction between the two, and it’s one that most people understand when it’s brought to their attention. “Average people” do not believe that money is the root of all evil—especially anyone who’s had to try to live without money!

But the love of money (that is, greed) . . . I think it can be argued that it is, indeed, the root of a pretty solid chunk of the evil in the world. Probably not all of it, but certainly a large proportion of it.

Now, the statement about the rich believing that “poverty is the root of all evil” I’m afraid I can’t really touch on, because Siebold doesn’t clarify the statement. How is poverty the root of all evil? On its surface, it seems like a statement I can agree with, but do I and the “world class” interpret it the same way? I’m thinking probably not, but I really don’t want to assume, so I’ll let this one go.

Point #2: “Average people” are “brainwashed” (!) to think a) rich people are either lucky or dishonest, and thus b) being rich is “shameful”

This statement is half paranoia (there’s no “brainwashing” involved), half self-delusion (many rich folk are dishonest, and almost all of them are incredibly lucky), and entirely bogus.

The reason most people believe rich people to be dishonest or just plain lucky (or both) is not a self-gratifying fantasy, it’s based on what they actually, directly observe in the actions and attitudes of rich people*.

The belief in the dishonesty of the rich is reinforced over and over by news stories of the “self-made successes” who made their money by screwing people, both legally and illegally. Whether fair or not, it’s there. Certainly not all—and maybe even not most—rich people are dishonest, but there are enough dishonest rich people to make “average people” suspicious and distrustful**.

The belief in the luckiness of the rich is reinforced by the fact that almost every rich person either a) inherited their wealth (which means that they were lucky enough to be born to the right parents) or b) gambled on a “big idea” . . . and won! What many of those gamblers don’t acknowledge, but what “average” people can see clearly, is that they could just as easily have gambled and lost. For every visionary inventor who creates the next big thing, there are tens of thousands of “visionaries” who didn’t manage to roll all sevens on their path to glory. The ones who “made it” may think that others’ failures are due to “lack of initiative” or “bad decisions” or “misaligned priorities” . . . but the truth is, many times it just comes down to dumb, blind, stupid, stinking, doo-dah luck.

Point #3: In which Mr. Siebold states the fucking obvious.

Let’s look at the exact words again: “The world class knows that while having money doesn’t guarantee happiness, it does make your life easier and more enjoyable.”

. . .

I’m gobstopped. I mean, does he really think that there are people who don’t understand this? Does he think he’s somehow doling out a pearl of wisdom here? This is so obvious, it’s almost a tautology!

I think I’ll just leave it there. We’ll look at more of Mr. Siebold’s “wisdom” tomorrow, when we deal with a very Randian idea . . . which is both badly misinterpreted and complete bullshit.


*For example, Bill Gates: Yeah, he did a lot of hard work, but he was both dishonest (he stole QDOS to make MS-DOS)*** and lucky (his competition blew off a meeting—the meeting where Gates got IBM to adopt MS-DOS).

**An analogy: If you belong to a motorcycle club, some people are going to be afraid of you. Is it fair? No. Is it understandable? Considering how the media most often depict motorcycle gangs . . . maybe so. Is it brainwashing?!? Not hardly.

***Whoops, my bad. The guys who made QDOS stole CP/M. Bill Gates just bought stolen product.

Previously in this series: Prelude and Introduction


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 7th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
Bill Gates
Bill Gates didn't steal QDOS. He bought it. The people who made QDOS ripped off Digital Research Inc.'s CPM-1.4 (the DRI copyright notices were still present in the MS-DOS 5.25" diskettes "back in the day"). Gary Kildall (head of DRI) blew off IBM, and that's why Gates was given a shot. He bought from dishonest people (but there was no direct evidence that he himself was dishonest in this) and he got lucky.

Just a slight difference.
Sep. 7th, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Bill Gates
Okay, then the story I read was wrong on that point. My bad.
Sep. 7th, 2012 05:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Bill Gates
I happen to have some old PC-DOS version 1 disks, and I "snooped" and found the DRI copyright notices (this was something like 20 years ago). From there, I researched what happened (and the QDOS theft of CP/M 1.4). Quite entertaining, really...

P.S. The last time I checked, the system (a Zenith Z100) was still in running order.
Sep. 7th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Bill Gates
Heh. I think you and my girlfriend would get along swimmingly. ;-)
Sep. 7th, 2012 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Bill Gates
Eben, I am a happily married man. So .. INDEED! :-)
Sep. 7th, 2012 01:37 pm (UTC)
Not that particular article, but I have read others that talk about the same studies. It's a point I'll be bringing up in tomorrow's post.
Sep. 7th, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
There's also a mostly-unspoken corollary to Point 3...

“The world class knows that while having money doesn’t guarantee happiness, it does make your life easier and more enjoyable.” (And if you don't have Money, you're not entitled to a little bit of ease or joy, can't have "nice things"....)

There's a lot of "policing" that goes on around money and how it gets spent. It's been somewhat common knowledge at work that I've been on reduced hours/salary for the past year (and that my position ends in a few weeks); and all of a sudden one of the secretaries is utterly fascinated by "all my new shoes".... never mind that I walk a lot and am *hard* on my shoes (and consequently buy higher quality), that most of the "new" shoes are ones that I've had for a while and finally have broken in to the point where I can wear them all day long (i.e. to work), or that what I wear was never so worth commentary before I started making less money.
Sep. 9th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
:/ I'm sorry you have to deal with that shit. What a bunch of fuckheads.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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