If you are an American, you are rich. If you have electricity, are able to purchase food at a grocery store without having to own land, plant, and harvest your own, own a cell phone, go to the bathroom indoors and have a toilet to flush, have running hot and cold water, live in a place that has a refrigerator, own clothes that you did not weave or kill an animal to get, you are rich. If you have a computer, air conditioning, central heating, an automobile, live in a dwelling that’s more than 500 square feet, you are super rich.
It wasn’t that long ago that there were only one or two computers in the entire world. There was no air conditioning in most homes in the 1950s and 1960s. If you wanted to experience air conditioning, your best bet was the local one-screen movie theater.
The majority of people around the world – billions of them – have very few of the luxuries that American’s possess. Our greatest health problem is obesity. Storage facilities populate the landscape of our cities to hold possessions that we can’t fit in our homes and apartments. In some societies, all that a person owns can be stuffed in a cart small enough for a person to pull. If you want to bake a cake, fry an egg, or cook a roast, you can do it with clean energy brought to your door. There is no need to fell a tree, chop it up in small pieces, lug them to your house, build a fire, and then haul away the ashes.
Yes, there are lots of people who are richer than you and I, but that does not mean that our lives can’t be fulfilling. The apostle Paul wrote, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim. 6:8). Of course, he wasn’t saying that have anything beyond these is wrong, but it does show that true happiness does not reside in the multitude of possessions.
Not all rich people are using government to enrich themselves. Most rich people did it the old fashioned way – they worked hard and earned their wealth. Their wealth has contributed to our wealth. Here’s a list of the net worth of some of the Super-Rich, the Top 0.01% (from Forbes’ richest 400 in America list):
- Steve Jobs: $8.3 Billion
- Carl Icahn (leveraged buyouts): $12 Billion
- Sergey Brin (Google): $15.9 Billion
- Charles Koch (manufacturing, energy): $19 Billion
- Michael Bloomberg (NY mayor): $20 Billion
- George Soros: $22 Billion
- Jim Walton (of Wal-Mart): $23.4 Billion
- Lawrence Ellison (of Oracle): $27 Billion
- Warren Buffet: $50 Billion
- Bill Gates (Microsoft): $57 Billion
“The Occupy protesters reportedly are armed with iPhones and laptops and are active in social media — the very gadgets and communications technology invented by Jobs, Brin, Ellison, and Gates. Reportedly, Soros is funding the Occupy movement.
“Will irony ever end?
“By the way, raging socialist and President-for-life of Venezuela Hugo Chavez has an estimated networth of $1 Billion (!) — the same as Prince Albert II of Monaco. Another raging socialist, Fidel Castro of Cuba, has an estimated networth of $900 million.”