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What is Rich?

A person’s definition of rich is very subjective. Honestly you can tell exactly where a person is on the economic ladder by hearing their answer. I’ve had the privilege to work with literally the poorest people in the world (living on $1 a day) and the richest people in the world (billionaires) and I personally grew up in a lower class neighborhood, and now live in an upper middle class city. I’ve seen the full gambit of human economic life, and each person in each of those environments would describe being “rich” in different ways.

The World Poorest – These individuals struggle to find the resources to have a steady stream of food and adequate shelter. They strive to have stability. Having economic stability, the ability to save money, to have extra money to buy any kind of luxury item is what they aspire to. That is their “Rich”. Its hard for them to imagine much beyond that. If you ever meet any of these people they are truly inspiring, they work so hard for so little and many of them still enjoy their lives, proving that money certainly isn’t everything. Their “Rich” number might be having $10,000 to $50,000.

Lower and lower middle class – These are the “poor” in the American context, maybe as a family they are making $20,000 to $50,000 a year. They struggle to maintain a standard American life (substitute any developed nation into this description). For this group being “Rich” is having the resources to buy new cars, own a home, maybe even pay that home off. Being rich means you can maybe retire early and know you won’t need to keep going well into your 70’s just to make ends meet. Their “Rich” number might be having $500,000 to $1,000,000.

Middle and Upper Middle Class – These people are the rich of those below them, nice new houses, new cars, vacations, luxury items, time to ponder which career they should switch too, time to work on their kids education. In all of human history these people live better than 99% of all people who have come before. But do they consider themselves rich? No, they like everyone else look up the economic ladder. They want the resources to not have to work ever again, to have the resources to pursue dreams, to build and own beautiful things. Their “Rich” number might be having $5,000,000 to $50,000,000.

Finally the top of the pile – in the west we call them the “Rich” but everyone in the west is rich compared to the first in our list. The rich have vast resources, they have beautiful huge homes in exclusive locations, they have enough resources to never have to lift a finger again. But here is the funny thing some of them even though they know they are rich, they still strive for more. What do they strive for? The funniest ones are those who have $100,000,000 but have friends who are billionaires and so feel less than them. Others seek power or prestige, adulation. Their “Rich” number might be a Senate seat, their name a building, a foundation that supports a cause they think is important.

Its amazing to see how people can be people no matter what situation they are in. We all strive for more. I think that striving is a good thing, as long as we keep some perspective.

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