Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Wealthy - Part 2 - The Downside



We left off with all of the good things this burgeoning new class of very wealthy are providing society. But there is a dark side, as with all things. Having great wealth does not mean one is happier. Less stressed about the basics, yes, but with most things there is always a downside, and with wealth there are plenty of down sides.

They may have quantity in their lives, but finding quality is not as easy. The psychological lift in treating ourselves with luxury once in a while is lost if your life is all luxury. Extravagant gifts are the expectation, and not a wonderful surprise. The rich, especially those that inherit their wealth, know that many people despise them. Relationships are always suspect. They resist talking about their dilemmas in public, assuming, maybe rightly so, that their problems are "high class problems," and therefore take a back seat to the problems of those less fortunate. Organizations such as "More Than Money" have emerged as a place to deal with psychological issues of the very wealthy. And psychological issues abound. Especially with children who spend most of their time with a revolving door of paid staff from nannies to household help. They tend to have higher incidences of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and difficulty connecting to other people. Many hide their status while attending college, luxuriating in feeling "normal." They cannot use the lack of money for not feeling at peace or living their lives with honor and integrity.

Most worry as much about money as those at the low end. The extremely wealthy worry about losing their money. They worry about having enough money. In fact a study reveals they double whatever amount they currently are worth in order to feel secure. If they have $20 million then they feel they need $40 million to feel secure, if they have a billion dollars then they feel they need two billion dollars. They worry about how to invest their money, they worry about their children lacking motivation if they inherit large sums of the stuff. They worry about gold diggers and prenuptial agreements. They worry that husbands marrying their daughters will feel usurped as providers.

Someone suggested in my comments yesterday that they felt there would be eventual class warfare with this emerging class structure. I cannot disagree. We are seeing it in the Middle East as we speak. Major revolutions have been fought over this very thing. We have an hourglass shaped class structure with the very wealthy at the top, a shrinking middle-class, and an ever-widening lower and working class. As we see more and more of our country's wealth buying only luxury items, it will surely have an effect. Trickle down aspirations have the offshoot of making everyone else feel poor as we tend to gauge our happiness, in part, by how well we feel we are doing in comparison to others.

The ramifications are world-wide. This growing group of extremely wealthy individuals are from many different countries. They have many homes, in many places, and feel more a nation of their own making than nationalism to any one country. What that means for our future is anyone's guess.

15 comments:

Bruce Coltin said...

I have been thinking a lot about this subject. We all probably know individuals who went looking for the secret of happiness. They never discovered the answer in material reward. And they were usually considered oddballs by those around them.

Nancy said...

Bruce - Good point. Maybe true happiness is being happy with what you have and where you are.

maggie's garden said...

Very interesting points here. I would comment further but am afraid I would spew more than anyone would want to read...as you can see this happened yesterday and I felt compelled to delete my comment. Good post on a very interesting subject...there's so much more to this than meets the eye or has been published on paper. I'm glad it's being talked about in the open. Thanks Nancy.

Nancy said...

Maggie - I'm sorry you felt the need to delete your comment yesterday - I thought you made good points. You're right about there being so much more - it is a very convoluted and complicated issue that cannot be discussed in any length because of the length of the post. I plan to write further on this subject in my book. Hopefully I can give it the time it deserves.

Grandmother said...

One of the problems of the uber rich is when they're in politics and convince voters to vote against their own self interest, for example, that there really isn't enough money and therefore cuts in social security are necessary. There is enough but it's in the hands of too few.

Nancy said...

Grandmother - Surprisingly enough, it is the old guard money that has that tendency. One of the interesting things I found about these new mega-rich is a more egalitarian view of social issues. It is the old guard that uses government to line their pockets and hates anything relating to entitlements. Of course, that is not across the board, but these new extremely rich people are not as worried about making sure government lowers taxes and ignores the elderly and other at-risk groups. At least that was what I found in the literature I used for these posts. It surprised me, because I tended to put all rich people into one category.

California Girl said...

You might enjoy this. Michaeel Moore was on the Colbert Report last night & the very rich was a partial subject in the interview:

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/379065/march-28-2011/michael-moore?xrs=share_copy

Brian Miller said...

smiles. i believe i mentioned that as well yesterday...the hour glass keeps pinching and unfortunately i see it coming...i hope not but...

Natalie said...

I believe there are lessons to learn wherever you are, and whatever station you are at in life. Happiness is a conscious choice, not a destination. As far as I am aware.....thinking is still free?
Great Post, Nancy.♥

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

It's as if we are reverting to Medieval times - serfdom and indentured servitude and the royals at the other end. And we won't even talk about corporations, like GE, which paid zero income tax last year.
Trish
www.synchrosecrets.com/synchrosecrets

Nancy said...

California - I like Michael Moore right now with his stance on unions.

Brian - You may very well be right.

Natalie - Yep, we can use our beanies for free so far.

T&R - That fate was sealed as soon as we turned into a service economy.

Here Under the Rainbow said...

When it comes to money, the question of when is it enough is a good one. In college, while struggling to feed myself, $40K seems like nice target. Funny how most of us have surpassed that point and still feel poor. How much is a moving target.

There is one constant I found. When I feel the most poor and volunteer my time to my community, I feel like a millionaire.

Thanks again for a fascinating post.

Nancy said...

Here - I think we have all felt that way - the target keeps moving and we can thank those at the top for helping it. But you're certainly right about giving. It puts you right into the flow.

JeannetteLS said...

My circle of friends and I have all lived below or at the poverty line, and, for brief periods, significantly ABOVE that line. For a few, they have been above the median and average for years. One of them has never forgotten her time at the bottom and her attitude of generosity never dims. The other? She feels deprived, embittered, and cannot see that she has far more than MOST PEOPLE in this country. But, then, she has always felt deprived one way or another. Others have said it in here, Nancy. Our attitudes, our values we bring with us through economic brackets. My friends sustain me sometimes now, as in easier times, I have helped sustain them. It's as if we all keep passing around a pool of about $20,000 among us for whoever needs it most. Sometimes it's two or three of us, sometimes it's one. None of us will hit the wealthy bracket... but we have come to realize, the eight of us, that we won't because not one of them manages to HOLD ONTO the money. They keep giving it to people who need it! And I hope and pray, that if a miracle of money dropped into my lap, that this would be how I handled it. I do not hate the wealthy, but sometimes I resent the bleep out of wealthy people who seem to blame those who are struggling for their struggles.

We all stumble. We all make mistakes, the poor and the wealthy alike. But some have no buffers to mitigate the consequences of their actions. Some of us have been just LUCKY that our mistakes did not do more damage. And sometimes, the consequences are too great for the mistakes, or someone just plain has horrendous luck.

We have been experiencing class warfare for some time in this country. Perhaps we are just at last beginning to take more notice of what has been fomenting for YEARS.

I may wind up deleting this. It's long and rambling. I look forward to reading more, Nancy. And to settling into a more objective perspective myself. Thanks for opening up the discussion and WELCOMING our reactions. REsponses come later...

Nancy said...

Jeanette - Don't delete! Good response and a very good reminder that money is not evil - it just needs to keep moving and not hoarded.