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The Deceitfulness of Wealth

August 27, 2010

I published this post on Hard Rock Philanthropy back in June 2007, before the onset of the current recession. The final paragraph rings even more true today.

The Deceitfulness of Wealth

While killing time in an airport bookstore a few weeks ago I came across an article in Details magazine on “why your six-figure salary isn’t enough.” Wish I had that problem to worry about…but I digress.

The article features 20- and 30-somethings plus a few in their early 40s who have achieved salaries in the mid-six figures (I assume that means in the 300K-700K range; I’d be happy just to reach six figures – or not (see Ownership to Stewardship: “According to numerous studies and contrary to popular belief, giving out of my bounty actually boosts my feelings of happiness. Hoarding my wealth and playing the miser contribute to feelings of depression.”)…and once again I digress). Rather than find satisfaction, all this wealth seems to do is drive blatant consumerism based on “salary envy” of the guy who stands on the next higher rung of the success ladder.

At the end of the article the author suggests that maybe those who have less are happier. After all, the guy who owns the $30 million vacation estate has to come up with $360,000 every year just to pay the taxes, not to mention the utilities and maintenance costs. Many of the wealthy featured in the article are also deeply in debt. It is pretty safe to assume that the nouveau-riche have not yet accepted the mantle of nouveau-philanthropists. Who can justify gifts to charity when the creditors are at your door?

It appears that happiness and wealth are not directly correlated. Happiness is more likely derived from being content with your purpose in life, not your status.

Copyright © 2007 Richard M. Potter. All Rights Reserved.
5 Comments leave one →
  1. christinamackie permalink
    August 27, 2010 9:35 am

    That is one UGLY picture! Ewww!

  2. christinamackie permalink
    August 27, 2010 9:37 am

    This reminds me of Donald Miller’s latest post too:

  3. August 29, 2010 12:13 am

    There was actually an extensive study of this subject that came out in the last year or so. The results were that: to some extent happiness and money do correlate, but at a certain point that happiness factor levels out. I don’t remember exactly but I think it was in the $75,000 range. Above that the people were not measurably happier.

    I think it should be obvious that being in poverty or constantly in need does make happiness more difficult (especially if you are responsible for children or other dependents) – on the other hand, once our needs are met, the things that really give life meaning have more import and effect on our happiness level.

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