Rich people are selfish, bad people

Published on 07 July 2009 by

Category: Stories of Change


Meet Paul, 55, Tampa…

cashMy father picked up Dr. Carter by the lapels of his jacket, and raised him a foot off the ground, and slammed him against the Dr.’s shiny new Thunderbird convertible, and screamed “if you ever step foot on my property again, or ask me or my family for money, I will kill you”. He then turned to me and said, “Rich people think they are better than we are. If you ever doubt this, remember this moment.” I was 7 years old.

This was the ending of a story that had begun several months earlier. My mother, pregnant with her 6th child, had gone to the hospital to deliver. During the birthing process, she said, “Something is wrong, please call the Doctor.” The Doctor never came. We later learned that the he was on the golf course participating in a tournament and couldn’t be reached. Eventually word got to the Dr., who then came to the hospital just in time to pronounce my baby brother dead.

Several months later, this same Dr. had come to our farm, in an attempt to collect his bill for my brothers birthing expenses. The impact on me of witnessing my father’s interaction with the Dr. that day had a profound effect on my life from that point on. I was determined to never ever be like “rich people,” or to have enough to appear rich to anyone else. Though I am a highly trained professional myself, I always undercharged for my services. Any money I did earn, I spent, mostly on others. I turned down promotions that would make me “the boss.” In order to meet my family’s needs, I overworked. I lost my marriage because I was never home. I always carried a huge debt load. I felt as long as I owed people money, no one would ever be able to say I was rich. Looking back, maybe the most important person I needed to say that to, was myself.

Claiming Financial Health

In the three years since I began looking at my relationship with money, I find myself out of debt. I’ve realized there is a place between wealth and poverty. I don’t have to be perpetually poor to be a good person. I learned that I could accumulate some money for my future without betraying some of the very basic beliefs I have about the human condition and about life in general. I learned that there are people of means, who do wonderful things with the money that has been entrusted to them–counterbalancing the old “Rich people are selfish, bad people,” money script.

Now I can catch myself and say, “Well yes, there are rich people who are crooks, just as there are middle class and poor people, who are crooks.”

The most freeing part has been to have that conversation with myself; and to be conscious about it. To be able to accept that those old money scripts about the rich and the poor may have been true for me when I was growing up, but I’m an adult now. I am no longer in abject poverty. I am not poor-I am a responsible person. To be a good steward of what I have been given, I need to walk more in the middle ground, to be conscious of what I am doing so I can be content with what I have.

Looking back, the most surprising part of all of this is how unconsciously I operated. I mean I did what I did, but I didn’t think about it at all. I didn’t make any financial decision consciously. The primary thing that has changed for me is that now I make decisions about money at a very conscious level. What are our overall plans for the year? What are we going to do with and for the kids? How will that fit within our budget? How does that fit with the bigger picture.

– Paul


4 Responses to “Rich people are selfish, bad people”

  1. Alvaro says:

    Excellent article!! You could write a book about this experience…

  2. Larry says:

    Hi Paul
    It’s not just the rich anymore! I share your frustration when it comes to money and the strong dislike for the greedy. I am a designer/artist and often discount my work. I make a living but I am not wealthy by any means. I did not always feel contempt for the greedy because it was not as prevalent as it is now. During the early part of 2000 is started to notice that everyone around me was becoming very entitled / selfish. I would walk into barnes and noble and hear everyone on their cell phones, people started to tailgate and drive dangerously over the speed limit in their cars then people around me just stopped honoring their financial obligations. My clients took months to pay their bills if they did at all but had no problem repeatedly asking me to do more work for them. During 2008 it seemed like it reached its peak and I had to move to out of my apartment because the landlords in my town were all raising the rent to ridiculous levels. Eventually I think this all came to a head during the housing bubble and the subsequent problems with the economy. Even now half of my clientele actually demands more from me even with the discounts often to the point of being insulting rude and downright uncivilized. I am now having to turn away people who exhibit these signs in hope of a little bit of sanity. Turns out I am not the only one who noticed this ugly side of humanity. Just google “entitlement epidemic” or “narcissism epidemic”. I hope it goes away but greedy people just don’t learn and seem to have a way of prolonging agony for the human race.

  3. Wimal Kariyawasam says:

    The People who become Rich without having a good family background or Sound educational success, they think they are the key people in the society. They don’t know that they bring smile to others.

    They are very poor on attitude. Just because of that they are most likely to be neglected by educated people and their society.

    Then those rich people got only uneducated or poor people in their life. Then they do everything to be famous in their society. Good luck for them.

  4. Capitalism Kills says:

    Being rich is unfathomably selfish because it entails the notion that one is entitled to buy 6 mansions or hoard $5 million in the bank instead of saving hundreds of lives with that money. I am 99.99% sure that in God’s eyes, nobody deserves to be rich while millions are starving and suffering or dying of preventable causes. For this reason, I’m willing to bet that almost all rich people (if not ALL) are undeserving of their wealth in God’s eyes, because they only “earned” it due to being born into privilege and/or simply getting lucky, at the expense of the less fortunate. There is enough food to feed the world but people still starve because of the greedy capitalist system. Furthermore, nobody works thousands of times harder than the average person, such that they should deserve thousands or millions times more money than the average person; it is simply exploitation due to fortuitous circumstances.

    BTW, am I guilty of the same sin as rich people because I have more money than I need and I spend on frivolous things instead of helping the poor? ABSOLUTELY. But just because I do it (and almost everyone else does it) DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT.