Oxfam says wealth of richest 1% equal to other 99%.
And that is in 2016. Since then, the inequality gap has only widened.
In 2020, the world’s 10 richest billionaires — which include Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and LVMH luxury group’s CEO Bernard Arnault — have collectively seen their wealth grow by $540 billion.
Hence, it is understandable that in this time of widening wealth gap that many tend to develop a hatred of money and wealth as coping mechanisms. Many demand a heavier tax on the rich to support the lower income. And the truth is some of us hate them simply because they are a reminder that we have yet to make it. They are living proof that we are still far away from our aspirations.
They made it. We didn’t.
In my honest opinion, no. I think it is not fair to hate on the rich for their wealth if they are self-made. They worked for it. They were willing to put in the hard work and had an insane work schedule. For example, Elon Musk worked close to 80 hours a week while Steve Job worked 7 am to 9 pm daily after returning to Apple in 1996. These incredible beings worked their ass off to scale their company into incredible heights. They are relentless with their standards and never took inconvenience as an excuse.
But didn’t we work hard too?
Yes, we did. However, on top of their incredible work ethics, they are beings with great foresight and determination. Many of us have good work ethics but we lack that vision and foresight. We were unwilling to press on when things are performing poorly. For example, Steve Jobs continued to believe in Apple’s vision and products despite Apple’s plummeting stock price and poor sales figures. Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Technologies, infamously said that he would have shut down Apple and return the money to shareholders if he was Apple’s CEO. Jobs trust in his company was well rewarded. In a few years time, Apple’s stock price skyrocketed and it regained its position in the technology industry.
In my opinion, they deserve their wealth and success without a doubt. They worked hard and this is their reward. Rewarding based on merit. The concept practised heavily in Singapore: Meritocracy.
So no. I don’t think we can hate on the rich, especially those that are self-made. However, things get complicated when the rich are rich because of their parents: Parentocracy.
While wealth is the business of their family and it is not right to hate on them, I think that it is somewhat justifiable if we don’t give them the respect they want. After all, they did not earn their wealth but was born to it. For example, Jim Walton inheriting wealth from his father, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart Supermarket. These individuals did not put in as much work as others and received huge rewards simply because of their birth. It is unfair since the playing field is already different at the start.
In these cases, it is complicated. Some may argue that it is their family wealth and their business to distribute it. While that is definitely true, I can’t help but feel sad when these heirs are stingy with their inherited wealth. For example, The central finding of this report is simple: Analysis of 23 years’ worth of the Walton Family Foundation’s tax returns shows that Rob, Jim, Alice and Christy Walton — the second generation Walmart heirs — have contributed almost none of their personal fortune to the foundation which bears their family name. Jim Walton only made a single personal contribution of $3 million to the Walton Family Foundation, more than 15 years ago.
And when some of these first or second-generation heirs act in a way that they earned their wealth, it is only understandable that some of us will hate on their actions. Of course, they are facing issues of their own: worried about being viewed as an under-achiever and living in their parents’ shadow However, most of us are unable to relate to such problems and view such problems as secondary to what we are facing: financial insecurity, career progression and supporting a family. Thus, I believe while we should not hate on these individuals, we have the right to feel unfair when they exercise their unfair privileges and authority to get what they want.
Ultimately, most of us want to be like them. Perhaps we don’t want to be super-rich, but we want to do big things as well. We want to make our own mark on the world as well.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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