Wednesday, 12th December 2012
IS IT HEALTHY TO BE OBSCENELY WEALTHY? – There are lots of wealthy people in the world and there are quite a few with, what is referred to as, obscene wealthy. But at what level is this referred to? Is it having a net worth of $100 million or $1 billion or is it in fact, considering the price of things, with those having more than say $5 billion?
Asking the exact figure of when wealth becomes obscene is akin to asking how many stars does it take to make a galaxy. It really does come down to our own perceptions of wealth and as the saying goes, one man’s loaf of bread is another man’s banquet.
I was recently invited to a Birthday Party and as it happens the hosts would be considered wealthy, they are both multi-millionaires in their own right and I might point out that their success was due to an awful lot of hard work. As the party progressed and a wonderful time was being had by all, I was deep in conversation with a number other wealthy guests, which also included the host, when one of the guest asked me my net worth. The host of the party knows me well and cringed at the question.
This is one question I hate being asked because I think it is totally irrelevant what someone is, or is not, worth. If someone could explain to me how knowing the net worth of another has any bearing on ones life and situation would be truly enlightening because for me it is simple irrelevant information.
My responses was; “Does it really matter? Would it make any difference to your life by knowing if I was wealthy or poor? Or are you simply trying to measure my character by the content of my bank account?” His response was a little flustered as he wasn’t quite sure how hostile my questions were or whether I was just trying for a little light banter. Instead of simply agreeing with my points of question he retorted by saying; “Well of course I made my money in textiles and I’m worth at least…” I cut him off before he could tell me his net worth with; “Unless you are going to write me a cheque for what you have then I have no interest. By simply telling me what you have will never make one iota of difference to my bank account – so here’s the deal, if you insist on telling me I’ll take a cheque for half otherwise keep your money and the amount to yourself.” He didn’t seem overly pleased.
To me obscene wealth is anything to a sum where you really need to tell others or that you have to shove it down someone’s throat with line ‘I have’. Having a Rolls Royce, or a Private Plane is irrelevant to me, as they do not belong to me therefore I derive no benefit from the knowledge of what another may or may not have.
I guess the obscenity of wealth really does come down to perspectives – not all of us needs a Rolls Royce of a Luxury Yacht, however I am sure there are many out there who would dearly love to own these things.
When it comes to acquiring large sums of money I have to say the most peculiar and interesting of this breed has to be the Lottery Winners. It never ceases to amaze me how many of them are quite happy to flaunt the wealth that they have just acquired but it is equally interesting that many of those that do are generally pretty frugal with their money – that is they don’t immediately change their lifestyle in any dramatic fashion such as buying a mansion or a very expensive sports car.
We are generally fascinated by other people’s wealth. Testament to this would be the widely published and read Forbes Rich List. Maybe, for most of us, we simply want to lose ourselves from our own lack of wealth and immerse into the fantasy of being wealthy and thinking about all the wonderful things we could do with such wealth.
Going back to the party… The chap in question really did have an itch and approached me an hour later. He pointed out what a funny guy I was and then proceeded to tell me not to be so coy about my wealth and so at his insistence I told him my net worth. For a brief moment I thought the poor guy was going to have a heart attack and he did look exceedingly pale for a moment or two. I guess the shock of standing next to a person without a pot to piss in was not what he was expecting in a room full of very wealthy people.
I personally do not find wealth obscene, regardless of the level at which it amounts. It is all relevant and we all lead different lifestyles, mostly within the means that we have. Again if someone has £10 in their pocket this would appear as a fortune for someone without a penny.
I think the only obscene part to wealth is from those who berate others for having it. It really is irrelevant whether it was earned, inherited or even won, the simple truth remains – it’s not yours so why would you worry about something that is not your concern?