For richer or poorer

I find that a lot of people do not understand what it truly means to be rich. From googley, on Ask Metafilter:

1) Ability to pay others to perform menial tasks. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, driving, managing money, lawyering, etc. etc. Almost anything that you think of a necessary inconvenience can be done by someone else.

2) Enough money to live off the interest alone. For most people, the biggest inconvenience in life is having to work full time (or more) and having their livelihood riding on said job(s). The very rich have enough capital accumulated that they can, if they are prudent, simply live off the interest, dividend, and capital gains income that accrues. They can choose to work or not, and in many cases have the opportunity to select a job that they enjoy and could leave at will, rather than something that they have to do.

3) A social network of wealthy and powerful professionsals. In some legal trouble? You have to defend yourself, find a cut-rate (and thus less competent) lawyer, or go into debt to hire a good one. The very rich have access to the best lawyers, or to politically or professionally powerful people who can make problems go away…

4) Cultural capital. When dealing with various institutions that tend to be suspicious of your credentials (banks, government agencies, maitre des), you have to jump through a lot of hoops to prove that you are legitimate and trustworthy. This means lots of time spent assembling records, waiting in line, and so forth. In most case, the rich already have the benefit of the doubt – either because of #3 above, or because said institutions want their money and do not wish to offend. Being rich means that people are afraid of offending you and thus you are seldom kept waiting. And anything that does take time – see #1 above.

5) Education. Perhaps the most important thing, the rich have the benefit of extremely good education. This doesn’t necessarily make them more intelligent, but it does provide the credentials to open doors and make a lot of things in life easier.

However, I also find that a lot of people do not understand what it means to be poor. From John Scalzi, Whatever: Being Poor:

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

Being rich doesn’t mean owning a bling-ed out sportscar. Being poor doesn’t mean being a criminal or a leech. Silverlotus’s parents, while not well off, are some of the most sensible and warm folk I have ever met. And most people with those sports cars are probably eyeballs in debt paying those sportscars off.

4 thoughts on “For richer or poorer”

  1. What is Rich?

    My quanta has just posted an entry that has made me re-evaluate him a little bit (For Richer or Poorer). We grew up in very different socioeconomic groups, and sometimes we have a little trouble relating. I lived in Hamilton, a very blue collar city, a…

  2. Not to make light of poverty, but my son bought an 85 Honda for $600 and it’s a wonder! I wouldn’t go to D.C. or anything in it but he’s had it for two years and I can see why people buy Hondas. That car is a marvel.

  3. just think what you would do if your world was turned upsidedown in a flash mine was in 2002 up to that point i was a steady hard worker that morning i had a stroke that hit out of nowhere since then i have lost everything i had worked so hard for my home my wife my ability to walk and talk now i rely on social security disability that dont even cover living expences you to could become poor like this i thought i was rich until then i thought i had a wife that loved me and cared for me but she was there only because i gave her all she wanted i wish i could help out the real poor but i cant even help myself if you get the chance please give them a bit of help i know what it is like to be freezing cold inside of my home i went thu last winter without heat half of the time would you walk to the grocery store and carry the groceries back home my fiance does this daily since the car broke down we dont have the money to get it fixed there are more people in this world than you could imagine in this condition i cant carry the groceries back as i am in a wheelchair my left are dont work to good think about it what would you do if this happened to you i would not wish it on my worst enemy i never expected to be poor but i am

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