I’ve been seeing a lot of news articles talking about how wealth is owned in the United States. The main idea is usually centers around a statement such as “the rich are getting richer” or “only a few people control a disproportionate amount of wealth”. The main idea behind much of these news stories is that only a few people control most of the money in our country. This has been especially the case with the recent pandemic related news highlighting the growth of big tech.
The major implication of these statement is that “the system”, e.g. the government, society, whatever, is subtly influencing policy and laws to keep economic resources out of the hands of the general public. Thus, the thinking goes, the odds are stacked in favor of entrenched interests such as corporations and accordingly, the poor are poor because society is structured to keep them that way.
However, this picture is far from factually correct. The truth is that many poor people become rich and many rich become poor. If you don’t believe me, check out this piece from the PEW Charitable Trust.
Since “the system” isn’t keeping anyone down, the question is: what is about the individuals who do manage to become wealthy? These factors aren’t any surprise: people who save money, live frugally, and invest prudently are more likely to gain wealth. People who don’t do these things, aren’t going to become rich. If you don’t buy it, read The Millionaire Next Door.
The long and short of this is two things: 1) lack of wealth is due to the individual and 2) if you want to get ahead, you should dispense with the idea that society is holding you back.
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