Chapter 20

It’s a Very Good Thing To Have Lots Of Money

Carpenter_Systems_Comps_R6.inddBut still, money is the root of all evil, right?

No, it’s not, although there is a huge segment of humanity that believes it’s so. For instance, in much of Western Europe, you’re under general suspicion if you’re in  business and have done well. In many countries, wealth is no longer considered an earned reward, something of which to be proud. It’s passionately coveted by many of those who don’t have it, and various government entities are the great equalizers, assuring voters of the selfishness or even corruptness of people who have succeeded.

Consider this: Particularly in the United States, the vast majority of wealthy people were born here to modest means, or they came from overseas with little or nothing. Are we to believe these people lost all sense of humanity in making the journey upward? Really, does having wealth automatically indicate a character problem? I’m personally well to do, but I sure as heck am not morally corrupt and selfish. Always just barely getting by, I spent my early years scrubbing other people’s toilets, digging ditches, and flipping hamburgers. With never enough money, I worked my tail off at nearly sixty separate jobs before figuring out how to break free, finally, at the age of fifty. Am I guilty of some bad act? Did I steal my wealth from someone? Of course not! What I did do was add value to the world and then, as a consequence, was rewarded. And as for my reward, I constantly reinvest it in the people who work for me, and my family, as well as an international nonprofit. Oh, and there’s this: Once I hit the top tax margin, I must give approximately 58% of my income to the various government entities that demand it, and those are taxes related only to income, not taxes paid for gas, electricity, telephone service, and on and on.

So call me successful, but don’t call me selfish.

Following are some reasons why being successful, including receiving a justly due monetary reward, is a very good thing.

As I illustrated above, enormous taxes are paid by those who are prosperous. In the US, in early 2016 as this book is published, the government’s super-progressive tax scheme causes the top 20% of earners to pay over 85% of all income taxes, while more than 50% of the population pays no income tax at all.

With wealth, one can buy additional products and services beyond survival necessities. The money is recirculated. Cash flows. This means jobs. By far, wealthy people give the most to charity. Well-to-do people put zero drain on government social services and, in fact, fund the huge bulk of those services (including the vast bureaucratic machine that collects taxes and distributes the benefits). Those with additional capital typically want to build more value. This means more taxes paid, more jobs created, and more new products and services produced for the consumer.

In the huge majority of cases, wealthy people are wealthy not because they took money from someone else, but because they created something of value. The free enterprise system is not a zero-sum game.

Yes, there are some bad capitalists out there. I get that. But percentage-wise, there are no more than in any other segment of society. (Greed and success are not synonyms. I’d go so far as to say that, in most cases, one is the antithesis of the other.)

In your own life, having plenty of money will give you better control—a heightened ability to decide what to do and when to do it. And yes, that personal freedom is your payback for creating value for others. Becoming wealthy is a science and an art form, an achievement of which to be proud.


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