Answer by Manu Prathap:
A study co-funded by the Gates Foundation, portrays the ultrarich as lost souls burdened by the fears, worries and family distortions of too much money.
The respondents–120 people with a net worth of $25 million or more–were asked to write responses to certain questions. Here are some of their responses.
ON ENVYING WEALTH. “If we can get people just a little bit more informed, so they know that getting the $20 million or $200 million won’t necessarily bring them all that they’d hoped for, then maybe they’d concentrate instead on things that would make the world a better place and could help to make them truly happy.”
“I feel extremely lucky, but it’s hard to get other, nonwealthy people to believe it’s not more significant than that. … The novelty of money has worn off.”
ON WHY THE POOR SHOULD BE HAPPY: “Nobody has the excuse of ‘lack of money’ for not being at peace and living in integrity,” writes one survey respondent of his family, with a touch of bitterness. “If they choose to live otherwise, that’s their business.”
ON LOVE: One mom writes that the men in her daughters’ lives could feel “powerless,” and that “their role as provider has been usurped.”
ON CHILDREN: Money “runs the danger of giving them a perverted view of the world.” Adds another: “Money could mess them up—give them a sense of entitlement, prevent them from developing a strong sense of empathy and compassion.”
“We try to get our kids to do chores,” one survey respondent complains, but it’s hard to get them to mow the lawn when “we have an almost full-time gardener.”
ON MEAN, RICH DADS: “I have grown up with a father who never wanted to give up control of his business but kept taunting me with the opportunity to step into his shoes.” His wife adds, “It has been difficult to feel financially independent when [my] spouse’s parents hold tight control over [our] children’s inheritance.”
WHY THE RICH AREN’T SMARTER: Other people “glorify wealth and think that it means that the wealthy are smarter, wiser, more ‘blessed’ or some other such crock.”
ON INHERITING: “Financial freedom can produce anxiety and hesitancy. In my own life, I have been intimidated about my abilities because I inherited money.”
ON LUCK: “I just happened to hit the jackpot by choosing to work for the right company at the right time. I have never thought that I in any way earned this amount of wealth. I’m just now feeling like I’m getting the hang of it.”
ON FRIENDS: “Wealth can be a barrier to connecting with other people,” writes the spouse of a tech wizard who cashed in to the tune of $80 million. “Not feeling you should share some of the stressors in your life (‘Yeah, wouldn’t I like to have your problems’), awkwardness re: who should pay at a restaurant.”
ON HATING THE HOLIDAYS: Robert A. Kenny, one of the study’s authors and partner at , says the wealthy dread holidays “because they were always expected to give really good presents.”