We know very little about ‘the rich’.
Tabloids make it up. Journals and news reports speak only of institutions. Major media skims only the surface while it tends to stimulate unsubstantiated opinion and often scornful judgement.
A hundred million dollars per year barely qualifies for a rich list, yet spending only a small part can cause intense changes in a locality, a firm or in political policy. But we seldom follow the money. We have neither insight nor empathy. And we have increasingly little influence.
A billionaire wields a type of influence that may not yet be measured. The ‘money potential’ in a billion dollars is felt across a wide population not unlike the military potential in an arsenal of atomic weapons can affect the entire world. We may know more about warheads than we know about billionaires. A billionaire carries a private social system, often necessarily protected from its threats, and often willfully manipulating its aspiring members and hangers-on.
Philip Beresford compiles The Sunday Times Rich List in the UK. He’s offering a few of his observations saying, “Forget what you’ve seen on television.”
Beresford has noticed that most super rich feel short-changed and are often consumed with keeping up with somebody even richer. “Rich people are willing to state with startling honesty their belief that they are insufficiently well off.”
One wealthy fellow stated, “The billionaires I’ve met are some of the unhappiest people I know.”
Another laments, “There is absolutely no way you will ever know that someone falls in love with you for yourself, or that someone is even your friend for yourself.”
Another says, “When you’re super-rich, you have one preoccupation: you are in the stay-rich business.”
Psychologist Oliver James names a new affliction amongst the very wealthy that he calls ‘affluenza’ – an envious state that increases emotional disorders.
The super-rich are prone to paranoia. Many suspect that people are ripping them off, and turn to professional security firms to put in place safeguards against kidnap and ransom.
Perhaps a new type of non-governmental organization is required – a sympathetic global outreach to the rich.
While we seek to solve problems in religion, war, politics, corruption, global warming, waste, injustice, inequality, tyranny, disease, orphans and poverty, to list a few, we should also organize ourselves to assist the rich.
In a “plutonomy”, according to Citigroup global strategist Ajay Kapur, economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few.
Rather than sinking under plutonomy, were we more proficient in assisting the seeming burdens of the rich, we might look forward to a better use of money.