Here are some things that I learned while spending my adolescence and young adulthood in Beverly Hills, and revisiting the place as an adult.
1. People who have big houses and other costly possessions may not have a lot of money. They may simply have a lot of debt.
2. Most rich people I’ve met have been friendly and nice. If you had enough cash for all of your needs and most of your desires, wouldn’t you be cheerful?
3. Kids who grow up around money are like other kids, but on a different level. A non-rich tween girl might ask Mom and Dad if she can wear lipstick to school because “everybody’s wearing lipstick.” A rich tween might ask for diamond jewelry because “everybody’s got a diamond.”
4. A worry that crops up among rich people: “What do people want from us?” If a non-rich person befriends a rich person, the rich person may worry that the non-rich is being friendly because he or she wants something that the rich person has.
5. Another worry of the rich: “What if I lose what I’ve got?” What if my investments tank or I lose my job or some thieves (white-collar or ski-masked) clear me out? The more you have, the more you have to lose.
6. Many or even most rich people are not monstrous oppressors of poor and working-class people. Too many of the rich do build their bank by abusing workers, defrauding customers, destroying the environment, or performing other predatory sins. But others make their dollars by inheritance, investments, or big fees that they levy on other rich people for goods and services.
Still, if anyone ever tries to make you feel sorry for the rich — those hard-working job creators, sweating long hours so that the rest of us can have better products at lower prices — tell such a person that he’s full of humbug. Some of the rich do work hard, but they receive fat compensation for their efforts; that’s why they’re rich. A lot of the non-rich also work hard but don’t receive such great rewards.
Personally, I want everyone to be rich. Thanks to a robust economy, plus programs that helped people who fell into poverty, Americans’ standard of living rose for decades, from the end of the Depression to the middle 1970s. If citizens, government leaders and business executives act wisely, we can make a nation where no one need worry about the cost of acquiring a home, raising a child, or getting medical care.
A nation of millionaires!