The myth of the self-made billionaire

In a previous post I talked about how rich 38 of Australia’s billionaires really are. Today, I read a brilliant post by Robert Reich about US myths [thanks Jill!]. What really grabbed my attention was this video which debunks the myth of the self-made billionaire:

Isn’t it time we stopped idolizing these poor little rich boys?

Isn’t it time we stopped rewarding them for being more ruthless than just about everybody else on the planet?

Isn’t it time we stopped wanting to be like them… and castigating ourselves when our scruples make us ‘fail’?

I know who I admire, and it ain’t any of these guys.

Meeks

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

55 responses to “The myth of the self-made billionaire

  • Jacqui Murray

    Have you seen the stuff Musk is doing with his money? He single handedly got us back to the ISS, turned communication on for the Ukraine–I’m thrilled he has billions if he spends it that way!

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      I knew about his Starlink but I wasn’t aware of his involvement with the ISS, although it kind of makes sense, given his fascination with Mars.
      I have no problem with billionaires using their wealth to do good, but I can’t help wondering what they did to get it in the first place. I hope Musk is a ‘good’un’.

      Like

  • D. Wallace Peach

    I love Robert Reich, Andrea. He’s so good at putting these facts into easily understandable language. And the graphics are fun. Sadly, none of this is a surprise in the US. It’s been going on for decades (since Saint Reagan). And what’s really sad, is that Americans vote for the people who perpetuate these devastating policies that hurt their own economic welfare. I’m getting the feeling that Australia isn’t much different. Great post. Sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Candy Korman

    As a New Yorker, I was astonished at Trump’s self-made mythology. His daddy gave him everything and rescued him repeatedly and yet his fanatic followers believe his self-made tale? So many of the most “successful” people give themselves way more credit for their achievements than they deserve. If access to opportunity were spread out more evenly… this would be a different world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      Thank you!!!! I wish everyone in the US were a New Yorker. πŸ™‚ I vaguely remembered reading somewhere that Trump was /not/ born poor but it’s great to get it confirmed by someone in the know.
      And I totally agree about opportunity. In a sense, that’s what education and healthcare and political stability are meant to provide. Sadly, the only time it’s been even close to ‘equal’ is when the rich were a lot poorer and the people in the middle were a lot more numerous. :/

      Like

  • kiki

    Thank you for the warm welcome. I came for the AI art post and stayed for all the rest of the interesting conversations you’re having here. 😊

    Hello fellow former Catholic! I remember being raised in a very similar way. I agree with you that values are backwards now. It seems a lot of people are more concerned with being rich and famous than they are with being all-’round good people. They can’t do something kind without filming themselves doing said thing because ‘if you don’t document it, it didn’t happen’. For me, that raises the question: did you do it to be kind or did you do it to appear kind and reap the benefits from your monetised account? But I digress. But then again perhaps social media hasn’t helped with this change in values.
    I think there’s a very different perception of what – to use your words – living a good life is, nowadays. The flaunting of excess and the carefully selected rose-tinted view other people, especially the wealthy, share of their lives has played a part in changing values.
    Personally, I don’t believe people who just move money around (and that’s a great way to put it) should be admired – the people contributing to a better world, should be. I believe integrity, compassion, a sense of responsibility, strong work ethic (among many other qualities) are the qualities to be admired.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      -grin- hello Kindred spirit! Nodded at every point. And I think you’re absolutely right about social media and this unexpected effect it’s had. It’s human nature to /want/ to be admired so I can see why so many so-called influencers have taken advantage of the social media platform but…it’s also generational. I was brought up not to ‘show off’ and talking about one’s good deeds was most definitely showing off!
      Please join our conversations whenever the mood takes you. Most of us are ‘makers’ of one sort or another, and i can guarantee that there are no ‘takers’. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  • jilldennison

    Many thanks for sharing Robert Reich’s video and words, dear friend! He is spot on!

    Liked by 2 people

  • petespringerauthor

    I certainly don’t admire someone just because they are wealthy. In fact, I think less of a person if all they ever do with their money is buy more toys. How many luxury homes and automobiles does one need?

    On the other hand, I respect those who use their wealth to find ways to give back to society or their communities. I realize that some of that is probably for PR reasons on their part, but I don’t care. If they set an example of giving of themselves, that influences others to do the same.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      Spot on, Pete. You’re definitely one of my kind of human beings. You have empathy. I truly believe that a scarily large proportion of the human race does not, or at least not ‘much’. I recently heard someone say that they thought as many as 15-20% of humans are sociopaths. :/

      Liked by 1 person

  • Anonymole

    The other argument I like to make regarding the Self-Made BMillionaire is that:
    Did you not benefit from a Rule-of-Law society?
    Did you not use the roads, the waterways, the airways, social systems, the electrical and utility grids, the police, the fire departments, the defense department, the EDUCATION system of a first world nation?
    Self-Made? Bullshit. If anything: WE made you. You just got lucky.

    Liked by 3 people

    • acflory

      Well said, Mole! I’m a great believer in individuals, but I also /know/ that none of us could survive for long without each other. Genetics simply did not give us sharp claws and teeth, super speed or any of the other survival traits given to other animal species. We have just two super powers – our ability to co-operate, and our ability to think and imagine. Yet we praise individuality while denigrating those who make human co-operation possible. We call them ‘Care Bears’, and not in an admiring way.
      To survive, there has to be a balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the society that allows all individuals to live and, hopefully, thrive.
      <> and apologies!

      Like

  • Matthew Wright

    Reich’s nailed it! What’s actually happened is that a few people have exploited a specific economic framework and surfed the wave of a new expanding system (the internet) to dominate it. It’s happened before – I covered off the way it worked in NZ’s colonial era in a couple of my books. Same thing happened in 19th century Australia. A handful of people, often with good starting capital, dominated the pastoral worlds of that day by getting in on the ground floor and being ruthless. In that age of cowboy frontier capitalism there was little to stop them, but it also shut out everybody else. I keep thinking history doesn’t so much repeat as echo…constantly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      Yes, Reich’s video was a real eye-opener for me. I kind of knew the ‘bits’, but seeing them put together into a coherent picture made something go ‘click’ in my brain.
      As for history, yes it echoes. How can it not when /we/ basically stay the same? Until we stop rewarding the sociopaths in our species, we’ll keep on repeating much the same mistakes in much the same way.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    We have been fortunate, financially middle class – have enough to probably not be a burden to our kids, and still leave them something (and be here for them now where necessary – they are independent), but this is a good question: What do I need now?

    Since I’m not a fan of wasting money (no one who ever worked for a living can be), I have to figure out how to RELIABLY get the exposure as a writer and have people who would like my novels find out they exist.

    Right now it is DIY – I haven’t found someone I can pay who would get me those readers without wasting a lot of my money in a scattershot, they get paid whether I get anything, way. And I won’t do that.

    There has to be some middle ground where the fact that I have so little energy can be burked by paying for something, but I haven’t found it yet.

    But, when I got stuck in medical problems, I DID pay for part of the covers and formatting I needed for the book I just published, and he was good, and relatively fast – but not cheap. I will feel better if I sell enough of the books to recoup the investment (which shows you I probably don’t value MY time enough, but that’s the work ethic).

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      Back when I first published Vokhtah, my first book, I paid for editing and that was money very well spent. I also paid for a cover because I did not see myself as…artistic enough. Sadly the cover, while good, was not at all science fictiony.
      With Innerscape I tried competitions and giveaways, as much as I could afford. I don’t regret the money spent there either, but I learned that marketing like that only works if you already have a fairly large reader base. I haven’t tried advertising because a) I don’t understand the model used and b) well, I’ve reached a point where I simply can’t afford it, especially as the return on investment is so low [unless you already have a large reader base].
      KDP’s ‘free’ promotions still work, a bit, but the only thing that works consistently for me is word of mouth. I don’t have a lot of sales but most of them are thanks to people power and nothing else.
      I think self publishing is like a goldrush – a few miners make it big, but mostly it’s the shopkeepers who supply the miners who get rich. :/

      Liked by 2 people

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        I don’t have nearly as many books out as you have, and I’m even further behind than you are – and, to make it worse, write mainstream as an indie – which has no guideposts for marketing (except things like The Mill River Recluse, which I’ve never been impressed by).

        Liked by 2 people

        • acflory

          I’m going to say something now that will get me in a lot of trouble with a certain segment of Readers: if you classified your books as Romance, and if I did the same for Innerscape, we’d probably get a lot more eyes on our work. Some few would expand their reading horizons and enjoy our stories, some would hate our stories and not get past the first couple of chapters, but many more would buy, put them on their TBR list and never read them. But we would have ‘sales’.
          -sigh- Neither one of us want sales ‘that way’. And neither one of us want readers who won’t love our work. So we have to cherish the ones we do get who ‘get’ us.

          Like

          • cagedunn

            It’s a bad business model to put books in the category where they don’t belong – it will get a bad name, and blacklisted in some forums where books are discussed.
            Putting a title in a popular category won’t ever get a second sale to the person who bought it unknowing of contents, so ‘that way’ is not ‘the way’ – as you say, it’s word of mouth, so keep talking in the right places where that audience congregates.

            Liked by 2 people

          • acflory

            Yes, quite apart from the dishonesty factor, I wouldn’t be brave enough to face the backlash from romance readers!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I will say this every time: Romance, as modernly defined and RWA, is a respectable genre, especially for indies, is HUGE, has millions of writers and billions of readers, and is doing quite well, as a whole (don’t know about individuals or averages). I admire them/it.

            And I’m not one of them, and I won’t pretend to be for any reason, even sales (though your mention of people buying and then not getting around to reading made me salivate – legitimate reader prey?) No! Get thee behind me, Satan.

            But if you try it, due to the very reasonable reason that you (and I) have love stories in our books), please let me know how it works for you!

            Liked by 2 people

          • acflory

            Love story yes, romance no. Back in my twenties, I went on holiday to get over a failed love affair. In the holiday house I found a pile of Mills & Boon romance novels. I read them, obsessively, one after the other. That was my holiday.
            I /needed/ the happy-ever-after so I understand why it’s so popular but…to me, fiction has to mirror life, and happy-ever-after is not life.
            Yes, there’s a love story in Innerscape, but a true romance reader would damn me for all eternity if I labelled it as ‘romance’. Won’t happen. 😦

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            We KNOW Romance readers’ expectations.

            It would not be PROFESSIONAL to market our stories to Romance readers – from the very beginning.

            I FIGHT the designation, even on Goodreads, because if a fuzzy reader labels your book as a ‘Romance,’ good or bad, the Librarians won’t remove that designation. Grrr! And then everyone else sees it – and is MISled.

            Romance isn’t me – I can’t even wish I read or wrote what I don’t. It is a legitimate a lucrative category for some authors.

            I couldn’t follow the tropes if I tried; I’m like you – human, realistic where possible (mine is more than yours), and push that a hard and far as you like, but not past the limits into trying to fool anyone.

            Liked by 2 people

          • acflory

            Exactly. I think that’s precisely why I love Pride’s Children – it’s a human story about some of the most fundamental emotions humans can feel. That, to me, is life. πŸ™‚

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            A different take on ‘life’ is definitely my intention; I don’t know if anyone else would/could write this story – I’m having the best time with it.

            A bit fairy tale, a bit (potential) millionaire love story (but so is she, so it’s not relevant), a bit epic tale (you haven’t even seen the end yet), a lot morality tale, and all as realistic as I can make it…

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            lol – I definitely want to read the ending! No pressure, though, no pressure. πŸ˜€

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            There is a certain class of what might be called modern adult fairy tales – what an adult would like to happen. It doesn’t depend on the youth and beauty of the protagonists, but on their maturity and understanding of a complex grownup life and its tough choices. The Thorn Birds is in that category, as is On The Beach, and I like to think Pride’s Children is, too.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            I’ve never thought of it in those terms, but you’re right. I loved Thorn Birds precisely because it did feel real.
            My life certainly hasn’t been perfect, but I wouldn’t change one minute of it. Maybe that has something to do with it.

            Like

          • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

            I read one silly book in the course of doing research,
            “The Frog Prince (A Romantic Comedy) Kindle Edition
            by Elle Lothlorien (Author)”.

            She attempted to make a realistic adult novel out of the idea of a young woman who marries a crown prince (Austria’s maybe – yup: Prince Roman Habsburg von Lorraine of Austria)
            and there is a long segment in the castle he would have lived in if Austria still had royalty reigning, trying to make it realistic. Very rom commy, but Elle tried and it wasn’t any sillier than any other billionaire romance.

            She talked about it on some blogs I was learning writing from, and a few pieces stuck. Which – I have no idea. It, of course, got progressively less realistic (except that I wouldn’t be surprised if the passages in that palace weren’t real) in its plot. I forget how it ended, and don’t really care, but it WAS an example of the preposterous made somewhat plausible.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            lol – I like that phrase ‘preposterous made plausible’. Somehow it’s always Cinderella and a Prince of some kind, isn’t it?
            I think that what I object to is

            Liked by 1 person

  • kiki

    I’d like to offer a loud ‘preach’ and a even louder ‘amen’ to all of this. I agree; it is high time we stop idolising people that are so happy to step on and over the rest of us to get to where they want to be. I’d be lying if I said I’d rather be broke and happy, but I’ll absolutely accept financially comfortable with a moral compass over wealthy with no scruples or no appreciation for the value of a dollar.

    As the gentleman in the video says, it’s a riches to even more riches story. We most certainly do not have “the same 24 hours” as these individuals. When I was 21 I didn’t have access to the same contacts and opportunities as Miss Jenner…and I still don’t at 36. I’m not suggesting she doesn’t work hard – I don’t know what she does – but I highly doubt she grafted even an 1/8th as much as average Joe would have to, to get to billionaire status.

    Liked by 3 people

    • acflory

      Hi Kiki, welcome and thanks for joining the discussion. My parents sent me to Catholic schools so I grew up conditioned to believe that you had to be compassionate towards your fellow man. I’m no longer a Catholic but I still believe that compassion, justice and social responsibility are vital if you want to live a good life. Not necessarily in a financial sense, but in a ‘what kind of person do I want to be’ way.
      People who work hard and create something, whether it’s a new kind of toothpick or a piece of music or a new way to save lives, those people deserve to be respected and admired. But people who just move money around? Why should any of us admire them?
      Our values are backwards. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      p.s. Just had a look at your site but couldn’t see any way to like, comment or follow?

      Liked by 1 person

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