Opinion

4 Things Rich People Should Stop Saying

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Ryan Ong

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I have nothing against rich people. Hell, I’m hoping to become rich too. And if you ask around, some people would place me in…would place me in the “not poor” category, let’s leave it at that. But that being said, I want to point out that there are some seriously annoying rich people in this country. Not because they have money, but because they like to say the following crap. If you’re one of them, please stop it:

 

1. If You’re Not Rich, It’s Your Own Fault

Ah, the meritocracy argument. The belief that effort always correlates to success.

This belief conveniently ignores context. See, certain professions pay better at different times and places. If this were the 1940s, for example, my pay as a writer would kick seven shades of faeces out of a movie director. And if we were in the Middle Ages, we’d probably point at doctors and say “That’s what happens when you don’t study hard“.

Now, let’s look at 21st century Singapore: No matter how much effort a mechanic, cleaner, or childcare teacher puts in, that person will not earn more than an investment banker.

That isn’t necessarily because investment bankers work harder, or somehow contribute more to society (in fact, the closer to manual labour a job is, the more likely it is to directly benefit society). It’s just that the current economy makes banking a more profitable trade.

 

Construction workers
If we can save the company $5 million, we might get an extra sandwich at lunch.

 

The investment bankers, like the app developers who work five hours a week, happened to be in the right place at the right time. They’re rich partly due to circumstance, and not because they’re inherently superior beings launched from Krypton.

I’m not suggesting they didn’t do any work to get there. Or that they don’t have talent. I’m just saying they need to acknowledge it’s not just will, but also circumstance (including educational opportunities) that gave them their success. And maybe following us on Facebook, because we talk about career upgrading all the time.

And that sometimes, people can’t succeed because they’re in the wrong place or time. Not because they don’t try as hard.

 

2. Mocking the Amount of Money Involved in Scandals

When a scandal hits the front page, there’s a lot of public indignation. Maybe someone seriously overpaid for bicycles, or the director of a charity fund decides “Hey, you know what would help impoverished kidney patients? A golden tap in my office.”

When that happens, we’re all shaken. It ruins our trust in charities, government bodies, etc.  But then a small percentage of our population (typically the rich) will say something stupid. Stuff like:

Come on, $X dollars only? That sort of money is nothing! Why are you people getting worked up over what is, to me, a tiny amount?”

It gets even worse when backed by arguments like:

  • $2,000+ is an okay price for a bicycle. I mean, who can’t afford to pay that money for a bit of convenience?
  • Compared to how much swindler X made for charity / the government / a company, the money he took is no big deal

Those arguments are (1) a slap in the face, and (2) missing the point.

 

Ski mask
Eh, I provide a LOT of policemen with jobs okay? Now put the money in the bag.

 

A few thousand, or hundred thousand, is not a small amount of money. It might seem that way, if you have a District 9 condo worth a Saudi Prince’s harem.

But for many Singaporeans, an amount like $57,000 could pay their HDB loan for years. When rich people roll their eyes at  the “trivial” amounts, it’s no less than a wealthy, fat tourist waving a a drumstick at hungry villagers. We’re happy you’re rich and all, but you don’t have to act like a contemptuous dic…person.

Second, we’re not outraged at the amount of money involved. We get that, when someone commits a commercial crime, it isn’t so he can buy a $2 Slurpee. We’re outraged at the betrayal of trust.

It’s not about whether $10,000 or $10 was wrongfully taken. The point is that it was wrongfully taken. If your 10 year old son steals $20 out your wallet, how would you feel? Betrayed and alarmed? Or would you laugh and say “Hell, it’s just $20?” 

That’s what we’re pissed about. And that’s why rich people need to lay off the “He may have stolen $X, but he made $Y” argument. It misses the point.

 

3. Dispensing Advice That Only Other Rich People Can Use

 

Gardening
“Well if it takes that long to maintain the building, you ought to hire yourself a secretary.”

 

Rich people who were born poor will never do this. But Singapore is home to the occasional heir, who never had to earn his money. And when that person gives advice, I cringe.

Mostly, the advice sounds like this:

Poor Man: I don’t even have a bowl of Yong Tau Foo, I’m starving man.

Rich Brat: Then why don’t you drink some Bird’s Nest? It’s very filling.

Other examples are:

  • Suggesting your relieve stress by taking a one month holiday, and not understanding why you can’t do this
  • Wondering why you won’t go on an all salmon diet and sign up for a $3,000 Yoga class, when it’s for your own health
  • Asking why you don’t just “take a cab there”. Every. Damn. Time.
  • Suggesting you cure your poverty by investing in property or gold. Because he thinks someone who makes $1,200 a month is in a position to do this.

Look, if you inherited money, congratulations. We’re all happy for you. But if you’re going to walk around dispensing advice, may I suggest you listen first?

Perhaps if you spent less time talking, and more time understanding the issues of the less fortunate, you’d be able to make a real contribution.

 

4. Saying That Money Trickles Down, Even if You Won’t Invest in Us

 

Singapore airlines
Think of it as importing gold, except it walks, talks, and has a worse attitude.

 

Do you invest in local start-ups? Contribute a lot to charity? If you do, you sort of have a right to use the “trickle down” argument.

But you need to realize some rich people are just here to stash money, or for the tax breaks. Or to buy our property. And that money doesn’t “trickle down”. It sloshes around in their bank account, never circulating into our society.

Saying it “trickles down” is like putting a bag of plasma in my hand, and telling me if I hold it long enough I’ll have a full blood transfusion.

So if you’re one of those rich people who walk around saying: “Singaporeans suck, they have no creativity, I’ll never invest here, blah blah blah“, then stop using terms like “trickle down” or “a rising tide lifts all boats”. You do nothing for us. We’re doing you the service, by giving you a low-tax residence that you contribute diddly squat to.

Now back in the ’70s and ’80s, people didn’t put their money here because we’re a tax haven. Or because it’s easy to import cheap labour here. They came here to set up businesses and invest in our workforce, because we had the best and brightest.

They believed in us. Hell, we believed in ourselves. And as a consequence, we got richer together. Now that’s a trickle down effect. If we’re lucky, we’ll recapture that spirit.

But in the meantime rich guy, unless you actually invest in us, lay off the trickle down arguments.

 

What are some other things you wish rich people would shut up about? Spill the details here!

Image Credits:
jjcb, petrr, Thirteen of Clubs, jeremyfoo, jordanvuong

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.

  • Samantha Jackson

    Poor article right from the start.

    Taking a diss at investment bankers when you don’t even know the working hours and stress we face during the 1st few years of our career.

    Do you work more than 16hours a day? Because we do, on a constant basis for 4 years til that promotion before it becomes a more reasonable 12 with drops at every subsequent promotion.

    8am til 3am a day, do you work harder or more than that? Do you experience the stress of multi million deals even though you are only paid 7k/month for the 1st few years?

    Classy.

    • gowhalego

      Some people work more than 16 hours a day, everyday for more than 4 years and can’t even earn $7k/month.

      Wow imagine that! Effort should always correlate to success, these people must not be working hard enough, unlike you!!

    • a sensible human

      if you think your life sucks, i would be happy to swap places with you.
      why not try working as a bus driver (8-10 hour shifts), factory worker (12 hour shifts), or even a junior doctor (20+ hour shifts). all of whom earn less than half your quoted starting salary.
      and please don’t tell me that the stress of your working “multimillion deals” (which I am very sure you are not left alone to handle as a junior banker) is not less than driving a bus full of people on crowded roads, assembling hundreds of small machine parts or driving a forklift or moving containers, or even dealing with life or death situations?

      wake up your idea and stop being such an entitled prick. you are not suffering. you are just whining about your relatively-decent life.

    • whats up

      If you think it’s not worth it, why are you still working as an investment banker? I’m sure it’s not because of lack of options, but rather the opportunity cost.

      Also, you have obviously never seen how factory workers can work 18 or 24 hour shifts (in contravention to factory regulations) just to get more money for the family. For years. With very little hope for promotion. And their salary is definitely <50% of 7000.

      Finally, being able to handle multi-million dollar deals is a high-risk, high-reward task. Yes the responsibility is huge, but it pays off large dividends as well in your future career, so it seems like an opportunity more than anything else.

      • Samantha Jackson

        It seems all of you are missing the point which I hope, doesn’t carry into your working life.

        Which is we high earners work as hard if not harder to get to where we are. The choices and risk we take differs from others, with most coming from intricate planning. Pinning our success on “being in the right place at the right time” is absolutely false.

        • JoeLorenzo

          I do not work nearly as hard as a roofer and neither do you. But I provide a valuable service and therefore make a good living. You are an investment banker – the lowest of the low. You are Sh*.

          • Samantha Jackson

            You are certainly a poor, miserable, petty person. That you have to go all the way to a 7 month old post, just to make a personal attack.

            I almost want to feel bad for you but I don’t because you deserve to be in your current position, whatever that is. Your lowlife attitude is the reason why you are where you are.

          • JoeLorenzo

            Funny, you would be shocked to know where I am. And I provide a service that is actually needed in the market, unlike you who is merely a parasite off the government. All those investment banks could not sign up for government help fast enough. They all became insured banks as fast as they could. Your business isn’t viable on its own. That means you are an overpaid government worker. You are not capitalist, you are not productive, the market does not need what you are selling. I do not mind being attacked by socialists like you. You need to hear this from those who actually work in the market.

          • JoeLorenzo

            You’re evil

        • JoeLorenzo

          I don’t get it. Are you saying you work harder and take more risks than say, a roofer? There must be some other reason you think you deserve to make more money than the other people. What do you think that is?

    • Swagato Barman Roy

      Most people will not get it, but I think I understand you. The point is people see rich people boarding their private jets or ferrari, wearing their classy suits and stuffs. However, no one is there to watch when they work their asses off without taking a vacation for years (yeah, Bill Gates did so). So in general the ignorant mass just sees the result without realising the hard work that goes behind it. Hence…

    • ladyjay

      Wow, you really are a whiny bitch, aren’t you? Cry more with your 7k salary and your 16-hour workday. There are people who work that long with barely 40% of your pay.

    • Subramaniam Mahendthiran

      Oh my god you poor child. $7K for the first few years????? Hmmmm did the bank you’re working for kidnap any of your family members and say, “you know what, why don’t you work as a banker for the first few years and we’d only pay you 7 grand-hehehehe!!! And you’d be working 12-16 hours per day (insert evil laughter to cries of “OH NOOOOOOOOO”)

      Tsk Tsk Tsk shame on that bank!!! Please let us know of the bank!!!!

    • JoeLorenzo

      You are a broken record. I feel sorry for you.