Recently, I came across an article with the title “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day” (found via Facebook, I believe), and as I read through the article, I became increasingly annoyed. Through every item on the list, I felt the condescending attitude towards the “poor”, and that whoever made the list, criticizes the “poor” for not doing enough with their lives, and that the “poor” are lazy by comparison to the “rich”.
I, however, do not feel this way (and I’m not on either side of this metaphorical fence), and I feel I need to shoot down the argumentation presented in that article. I need to express what I believe would be the reasons behind the numbers (based on my own insight and observations, both with myself, my family, and other individuals), and show that just presenting numbers and statistics without context might present the wrong picture. The picture the condescending people want you to see.
1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.
There’s a simple reason to this, actually. Healthy foods are more expensive than junk food, and junk food fits surprisingly well on a small budget. Also, wealthy people gamble just for the fun of it, but “poor” people gamble because of the small glimmer of hope towards the grander prizes. I would also believe that “gambling” includes everything from tables and machines at casinos down to lottery tickets. Most everyone without a lot of money will buy lottery tickets, especially when there’s a small chance to win millions of dollars.
2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
Focusing on a single goal, and be able to accomplish it takes a special kind of drive and skill. Those who don’t have the ability to focus on accomplishing a single goal are happy with what they have, or don’t have the time or economy to focus on anything in particular, or change their focus to a specific goal.
3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.
Exercising aerobically in a proper way requires a personal trainer and/or a gym membership, and not everyone can afford this on a strained budget. It’s that, or the fact that those with a poor economy often works more than one job, and there’s simply no time left in the day to do any type of exercising. Wealthy people can often choose their own spare time, which is a luxury not everyone has.
4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.
First, audio books cost money, and not all public libraries have audio books for rent. Second, the commute is different for all, and most “poor” people use public transportation. It’s hard enough to listen to audio books on public transportation with the background noise, and not everyone has a portable audio player capable of playing audio books (it depends greatly on the format of these audio books, actually). And third, not everyone has an interest in reading/listening to books. A lot of people prefer listening to music or radio on their commute, or reading something else (when not driving, of course). Personally, I prefer ready an e-paper on my iPad on the bus to work, and given that my bus trip lasts for about 5-10 minutes, I don’t get a lot of reading done in that short time. Basically, narrowing it down to “audio books” excludes a lot of other activities you can do on the work commute.
5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.
It depends how you define a to-do list, really, and what’s type of tasks are on that to-do list. I don’t think a lot of people who answered the survey counted grocery lists as a form of “to-do list” (which it totally does), and for a lot of people, a to-do list may also be as simple as using the front door of the fridge as a billboard of to-do items. If tasks on to-do lists also account for things to do in a regular workday, most “poor” people have jobs in the servicing industry or production industry, which includes tasks not bound by an individual to-do list (a global to-do list maintained by a supervisor, sure, but not individually).
6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.
That’s quite the tricky wording, though. Does this include children who read non-fiction books assigned by school teachers, or books that the children has taken an own initiative to read? Besides, “wealthy” parents often have academic backgrounds, or other higher education, and have a better knowledge of non-fiction reading material they think their children should read, while I assume “poor” parents often teach their children practical knowledge directly, rather than using books.
7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.
Again, first of all, there’s a significant difference in “parents making their children volunteer” and “children taking own initiative to volunteer” (like I pointed out above). Also, “volunteering” can be a matter of defintion. There’s organized volunteering (rec centers, geriatric homes, first aid, soup kitchens, etc), and there’s individual volunteering (helping out a grandparent or other family member, or a neighbor, with shopping, chores, care/nursing, etc). I suspect that this statistic only accounts for parents who make their children participate in organized volunteering.
8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.
Yes, calls. As opposed to actual face-to-face visits, or text messages. Another excluding distinction.
9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.
A lot of people keep their goals in their heads, rather than writing them down, and prefer to either keep these goals to themselves, or discuss them with other people directly. Not everyone has the need to write them down, much like a to-do list.
10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.
As far as I’ve seen, the “wealthy” already have jobs related to knowledge, management, or other area that requires higher education in the first place. Advancing one’s career in these areas would require to update their education or increase their knowledge through reading material. “Poor” people have jobs that don’t require a lot of education, or where advancing one’s career doesn’t depend on reading material, but rather in-workplace education (practical training specific to the job), workplace experience or just showing a positive initiative and positive results at work. Also, not everyone feel the need to advance their career. A lot of people are quite satisfied with doing repetitive tasks day in and day out. Before I got a regular job myself, I attended a work training course arranged by the unemployment office, and one of my fellow participants told me that he actually like working at a factory production “floor”. He simply didn’t have an interest in working on a higher level, and I respect that decision/desire.
11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.
This is a clear positive for the “poor” people in this list. We need people who speak their mind, without any filters, to highlight problems in society, the workplace, or other situations.
12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.
I assume that their definition of “networking” relates to mingling with people in similar careers, with the purpose of making business-related connections and contacts. People in “poor” jobs don’t have this need, and I believe they prefer spending their “networking” time with family and friends instead.
13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.
Less than one hour, eh? When “poor” people come home from work, they need to “disconnect” from the workplace stress, and TV would be the choice of entertainment for a lot of people. Pretty much everyone has access to TV in their homes, and the cost of using it is the same whether you use it 1 hour a week or 5 hours a day. “Wealthy” people have access to a lot more forms of entertainment to use for disconnecting after a stressful day.
14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.
Like it or hate it, reality TV is a popular form of entertainment. Watching other people make a mess of themselves on TV is entertaining for a lot of people. Although this statistic doesn’t include the types of reality TV being more popular than others, I would assume that the more popular TV shows include where the rich and/or famous either show the luxury that’s out there (lives of the rich and famous), or make an ass of themselves in “regular person situations”. Reality TV includes everything from bad things happening to bad people, up to the possible realization of hopes and dreams. A lot of “wealthy” people don’t have the same interest in this type of hopes and dreams, but instead focus on their own ambition.
15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.
Not everyone’s a morning person. Besides, why would anyone wake up 3 hours before work starts? Some of the “wealthy” people do this to squeeze in some exercise before work starts, but most people wake up in the morning to only catch some breakfast before commuting to work.
16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.
This comes down to academics, really. If “poor” people truly had success habits that actually work, they wouldn’t be poor in the first place. Wealthy people have already experienced successes, and actually have success habits to teach their children.
17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.
18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.
This relates a little to the previous item. Also, a lot of people believe that luck is random, whether it’s opportunity luck or wealth luck. It all depends on how you look at it. Although there are certain types of behavior that may influence that type of luck, a lot of luck is still random.
19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.
I believe it can be summed up in three words: What’s the point? Life is simple, so why try to improve it?
20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.
I think this comes down to academics, economy/access and cultural heritage. It’s also partially due to poor education and/or literacy, and given the rate public libraries are closing down, I don’t expect the number to improve much, since it will get increasingly harder to get access to free-ish reading material. People of all economies have varying levels of interest in reading, and boiling it down to economy/wealth can be misleading. “Poor” people may also have different priorities than reading.
Lastly, the article author (Dave Ramsay) tries to defend the wealthy by referring to the Christian bible. One part of his ending comment really says it all, I think:
Biblically speaking, poverty is caused and perpetuated primarily by some combination of three things:
1. Personal habits, choices and character;
2. Oppression by people taking advantage of the poor;
3. The myriad of problems encountered if born in a third-world economy.
The third-world economy is and should be a whole different discussion. If you are broke or poor in the U.S. or a first-world economy, the only variable in the discussion you can personally control is YOU. You can make better choices and have better results. If you believe that our economy and culture in the U.S. are so broken that making better choices does not produce better results, then you have a problem. At that point your liberal ideology has left the Scriptures and your politics have caused you to become a fatalist.
Yes, you can influence the first item by changing your habits, but the second item is just as much cause of poverty in first-world countries as any other reason. In this case, the oppression comes mainly from banks, lenders, and other people in the financial world. Their wealth pretty much depends upon getting “poor” people in debt (or further into debt) to make their money, and I’m saying this, not as an anti-corporation statement, but as a pro-financial-ethics statement. Lenders and banks market their loans and debt products as being a good thing, and “poor” people don’t have the experience enough to view these products in a proper skeptic light.
Also, viewing things from a biblical standpoint is taking the “I’m much better than you” stand, and this is the kind of people I, personally, think less of. I think greater of people who dare say their mind without condoning violence or vicious hatred towards other people because of who they are.
And that’s that.
Then again, unlike condescending people, I’m always open to arguments on why my opinion is wrong, based on actual, real-world, scientifically-proven facts. Please leave a comment below (while it lasts — to reduce spam, commenting is automatically closed after 30 days), or tag me on Twitter. Although I don’t actively tweet, I do read all tweets headed my way.
See ya around!