We Can’t All Be Rich

A few semesters ago a teacher asked the class, “How many of you want to be rich?” Nearly half of all the people sitting in the room raised their hands.

With a huge grin on his face, he said, “It’s not gonna happen.”

Naturally, many of those who raised their hands became slightly upset. Why would a teacher shoot down the aspirations of students like that?

The thing is, my teacher had a very valid point. There’s a certain amount of money in circulation, and that money doesn’t really grow except for inflation. So with the number of people wanting to make lots of money, there’s a bigger picture: The more people who work, the smaller each person’s piece of the pie becomes. If there’s $100 billion in circulation, for example, and 100 people work, assuming each person gets an equal share of the money, each person gets $1 billion. But if 200 people work, each person gets $500 million. And as the number of people working increases, the amount of money each person gets decreases.

This isn’t something that’s really emphasized in society. Most of the time what we hear is that if we work hard, we’ll become rich. But with so many people wanting to make loads of money, how is this really possible? Despite how horrible this may sound, not everyone is going to make it big. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing because we don’t really require lots of money to attain happiness – it’s just something we’ve come to believe because it’s what we’re told over and over again.

The feeling a person might get after buying a new car or computer might make him or her happy, but isn’t there always at least the tiniest feeling of remorse over the money that has been poured into these things?

Sometimes I like to revisit my past, and I’ve found that my fondest memories are very simple (like learning how to ride a bike) and usually involve experiences with friends and family. Those tend to be the ones that stand out over buying or receiving expensive things.

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