I Need (17 Trillion) Dollars
Your mom is on the phone, asking for $50. You know that she needs $50 because she’s been busy bailing out your (adult) brother, who has a substance abuse problem. Or a gambling addiction. Or a drinking problem. Or is just plain bad with money.
She’s been doing this for awhile.
Do you give her the $50? Again?
How many times?
I mean, do you keep giving her the money, even after doing so begins to affect your finances, knowing that enabling her is enabling your brother?
Let’s come back to that.
I was reading The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy sometime ago, wanting to improve my financial situation. The book was good news: anyone could be rich. Most of the millionaires (with a high net worth, not a high net income — there is a difference):
- Buy used cars. That’s not quite accurate. They shopped for a used car, the way some of us will shop for a brand new car.
- Have never owned a suit which cost more than $300.
- Lived in lower-income communities. For example, lower middle-class and middle class instead of upper-middle class or rich neighborhoods.
The book was bad news, too. Wait, all I have to do is to brown-bag it to work and skip Starbucks in the morning? Wait … I can’t eat out and I have to skip Starbucks?
Let’s come back to this, too.
There’s a great bully-hoo about rich people and rich companies not paying their fair share in taxes. And there is obviously a great disparity between what Warren Buffet pays in taxes and what his secretary pays in taxes. But maybe that’s not the thing to focus on at the moment.
Our federal debt is in the trillions now. And I would bet my beloved morning Starbucks that even if they taxed all the rich people and rich companies at 90%, that we’d have a temporary fix at best. The same way giving Mom $50 is simply enabling your brother.
It’s nice and easy to think money problems are fixed by money. They aren’t.
France raised her taxes on the rich, and the rich left the country. Hollande is probably crying foul, but let’s take a look at it from another angle.
- You made your lunch every day and brought it to work, even while your co-workers were eating that great take-out down the street.
- You skipped Starbucks.
- You only got that new car smell when you rode in someone else’s car.
- You put in 12-18 hours per day to run a business. Your neighbors are playing Xbox; you’re building.
After sacrificing that much, would you be okay with giving your hard-earned dollars to a political system (your brother) when some politicians (your mom) started crying poverty? Or would you look at the bailouts and “quantitive easing” and tell your mom that you’d be happy to give her the $50, but first she had to take a financial course and change the way she handled money?
If she said no but demanded the money anyway, would you stay?