Who wants to be rich?
It’s very common for people to say ‘Money doesn’t bring you happiness’. They point to the very public problems of wealthy people and the evident misery some of them have. Money, the theory goes, makes them superficial and selfish, their lives often fall apart, and they miss out on the simple pleasures of life. Money is their top priority and because of this, they’ve got it all wrong.
Attitudes to the rich are also characterized by hatred. Typical images of wealthy people are that they are greedy, cruel people who’ve got what they’ve got by exploiting or abusing other people. The rich are often seen as bad characters whose pursuit of wealth has led them to treat good people with brutal force and whose behaviour has been either morally questionable or completely corrupt. They can’t have got that rich by honourable methods, the thinking goes, they must have done something truly inexcusable.
Connected with this is a common belief that some of the rich, especially the young ones, don’t deserve their wealth. Some of them are spoilt brats, benefiting from the wealth of their parents and living empty lives of laziness and luxury, with nothing between their ears. Their lives have been all reward and no effort. And then there are the people in sport and the arts whose immense earnings are well-publicized. Surely, people say, no one can be worth such sums. It’s outrageous that these people get such high incomes for doing what they do.
Even when people aren’t actually rich by most conventional definitions of the word, their lifestyles attract criticism from others. There is among many people a dislike of what they regard as a materialistic attitude to life. When they see people with big houses, luxury cars, and a mass of the top-of-the-range gadgets, they dismiss them as empty, foolish people with the wrong priorities in life. How can they afford these things? Have they got heavily in debt to fund this lifestyle? If so, how silly they are. Of course, some of this feeling can be attributed to envy. Most people have no direct contact with the truly rich, seeing them only via the media, but materialistic people are all around. The truly rich are considered to belong almost to another species, but the materialistic ones might well be in your neighbourhood.