Just yesterday, I saw the newest episode of the show SUPERNATURAL. I really dig this show, and it is a frequent topic of conversation between my dad and myself. Last night, one of the characters was getting a lecture on wanting something different from life. Essentially, the message was the same as the movie THE WIZARD OF OZ. The character was fighting against being who he was meant to be. I was particularly struck by one quote that nailed one of the basics I teach about personal finance:
“Most folks live and die without moving anything more than the dirt it takes to bury them. You get to change things, save people, maybe even the world. All the while you drive a classic car and fornicate with women. This isn’t a curse, it’s a gift. So for God’s sakes, Dean, quit whining about it. Look around: there are plenty of fates worse than yours.”
If you’ve ever seen the show, you’ve probably had the same thought my wife and I have had several times. That would be a cool way to live. Driving around the country, not worrying about all the things we worry about every day, killing monsters. But then the episode ends, and we start preparing for the next day.
By now you’re wondering what this has to do with personal finance. Maybe you’re thinking that I just wanted to use the quote from the show because I liked it. And if that were all it was, that would be a good enough reason to do it. But there is more than that.
Right now, as young people, you have the freedom to do some things that many adults would envy. Right now, you get to make mistakes with little repercussion, right now you can go through a day without having to worry about where you will be next week or next year. We adults have made our decisions, and have made mistakes that will impact you and your children in the name of greed and politics.
When you are at your minimum wage job, probably still living at home, complaining about how much it sucks to not have the money that older people have, let’s look at some of the rich people in the world.
BILL GATES: Mr. Gates is the founder of Microsoft. He has more money than he will ever be able to spend in his life. His company is also regularly in court because other companies haven’t been able to make a better product, and so sue him, saying he is against competition.
GEORGE SOROS: Mr. Soros is an investor that made a lot of money betting that the US economy would go bust. He is also widely accepted to have been anti-American policy, and a sort of “kingmaker” who puts radically liberal people into office to forward his goals. He was also convicted of insider trading.
JOAQUIN GUZMAN LOERA: Mr. Loera is a drug dealer from Mexico. He is a criminal that is the most wanted criminal in Mexico.
So, these are people with money. Are they happier? Are their lives any better? And these are just billionaires. We could talk about millionaires like those who ran the banking system into the ground, or like the politicians that allowed it to happen (I’m still looking at you, Dodd, Frank, Pelosi, Reid, and the rest of your criminal cabal), or like the many “victims” of Madoff.
So when you go to your job, take pride in the fact that this is a temporary situation, and that you have freedom and luxuries that the wealthiest people simply don’t have anymore.
Second, when you hear from people in your school, or family, or work, and they want to make it sound like rich people are the bad guys, and how they are the blame for everything that goes wrong. Think about what their motivations are. Many just don’t know any better. They feel that making the rich the enemy somehow puts them on a higher moral ground. Let me just point out that without those “evil”, rich people, most of us would have no hope of improving our own lives. Remember, the government doesn’t want you to do better. They want everybody to do equally badly.