It’s 2013. Everything is bigger, vaster, broader, more inflated.
Frames of reference are haywire.
The common fantasy dictated for many generations was that the label of “millionaire” was the ultimate citation of one’s wealth and unbridled prosperity.
Somewhere along the way, during the past 20 years, the flowery aspiration to become a millionaire took a tumble, and whereas being a millionaire once inferred an unflinching life of excess, it now turned into simply a drab moniker for an easy, common and wealthy life that was by no means spectacular, lavish, or wildly elite. Millionaires are everywhere now, it would seem.
Now we speak of “billionaires” as the nouveau monetary fashion statement which separate the have-a-lots from the haves. Billionaires now stand apart as that uniquely “privileged” group that society ostensibly mimics.
“Everyone” wants to be a billionaire. The media and pop culture idolize the new “billionairism” and uphold it as the penultimate form of success and independence. And thus, all subsequent sickening explorations of human shallowness now focus on the attainment of billions as the express fruition of what this Western life is all about. I’m not sure what sickens me more: the news media’s adulation of billionairism, or the simplistic, unsatisfied American public’s half-brained fascination with billionairism! It’s one very disgusting self-engulfing circle of wealth idolatry. The news media spends much time wondering about the lives of billionaires while wondering (on the reader’s behalf) how it is a billionaire becomes one, and ultimately, what can we do to become billionaires too! The problem with this style of thinking is that it cheapens the concept of wealth to such a degree that it inculcates a mentality among the peasants that billionairism is attainable simply because there is present in our heart an inkling and desire that we can become billionaires as well.
The other day I was reminded of the Cult of Billionairism when I saw this article on CNBC, “Are Billionaires Just Smarter Than Everyone Else?” What pooey. As if there is a one-stop solution that will halt our life of meandering mediocrity. As if billionairism is just a couple of strategic and quick-witted moves away. As if billionaires can be so easily defined and demarcated with such a predictable formula that anyone can evoke if they wish to be filthy rich as well.
I am bothered by this article and all it represents because 1) it reflects a glorification of wealth as the only means to happiness, and 2) it stresses success as the pure harbinger of material satisfaction. People are dim-witted. They eat this crap up. They do not bother wondering how they will be happy because they have bought into the Western money-obsessive paradigm, to the degree than they have lost any healthy sense of skepticism when considering massive personal wealth. In fact, cynicism is seen by many American materialists as a sort of quasi-socialism and rebellion that disqualifies membership in the billionaire club. Cynicism is a bad word if you’re striving to be successful for it denotes, in the eyes of money-hungry urchins, defeatism.
Curiously, when all is said and done, the bottom line is that billionaires are essentially split along intellectual lines just like the rest of society. Some billionaires are very intelligent (the only delineation the research built upon was college alumni association as a proxy for IQ) and some are average, and the very intelligent ones are products of the new information society whereas the older breed is a product of the nuts and bolt manufacturing and creation sector of yore.. Ultimately, billionaires are typically a more intelligent breed, but not to the degree in which we can state that intelligence is the sole precursor to wealth.
Even among billionaires, however, there are wide variations in brainpower. Billionaires who made their fortunes from investments and technology were far more likely to be in the top one percent of brains; 69 percent and 63 percent of them were brain-one-percenters. Billionaires who made their money in fashion and retail, as well as food and beverage, were less brainy: with 25 percent and 23 percent of them in the brain elite, respectively.
I suspect many billionaires were “lucky” in the respect they chose their parents wisely or they struck that unique gold vein that trumped all other similar veins for a long period of time by which to establish their own proprietary cash cow that no one else could undercut due to institutionalization of the product over time. I would hedge my definition of luck here because obviously, the genetic billionaire legacy is pure luck, however those who discovered that special lucrative niche were lucky but also supremely motivated to turn their luck into a fortune. Good luck abounds but still, not everyone transforms it into billions of dollars.
More than anything, billionaires, at the onset of their trajectory, were willing to invest their life in this avenue of monetary escape.
Personally, I don’t understand why anyone wants to be a billionaire. Or more specifically, who would want to devote their life to that?
Now, if someone was to offer me a billion dollars while demanding absolutely nothing in return, of course I would take the money. I’m not an idiot! However, I cannot fathom a situation where I would be personally driven to work towards the attainment of so much money. I don’t give a crap about billions of dollars. I barely give a crap about thousands. The work, time and commitment required to make billions of dollars is noxious to me. My life is too short and meaningless to spend it on trivial and fruitless excursions into prosperity. Yay, I have found a way to earn billions of dollars! Now my life is structured around the maintenance of that fortune. Furthermore, especially in the case of magical sums of money that perpetuate themself merely by their financial self-replicating mass, thus removing you (the billionaire) from further personal investment in the collection of money, most people cannot just walk away. Billionaires don’t simply “stop” the minute they earn that much money. It becomes an addiction and a sick competition.
Money is slavery and possession of money is absolute slavery regardless of your lifestyle. Under the spell of billions of dollars, there is no independence. I don’t care how much someone can claim “financial independence,” this is just a mealy-mouthed way of saying “independence from worry about money.” Not freedom from worry. Your identity is so interwoven with your fortune that one cannot exist without the other.
Some might accuse me of sour grapes. This is not even close. I do not begrudge anyone for their wealth. I don’t care if someone chooses to spend their life becoming wealthy. I don’t dislike rich people simply because they are rich or that they prioritize money. I rather appreciate many of the finer things in life, from a distance, which is about as close as I am allowed. I would never key a Lambo or piss on a Beverly Hills lawn. That is their world, this is mine. I’m happy, just as they are happy.
I need less, and thus require less. Happiness is mine, just as satisfaction is yours. I just don’t need anyone telling me that the only route to happiness is paved in banknotes.