The Coastal Post - November, 1995

KIRBY FERRIS

Is Personal Wealth An I.Q. Test?

We've all heard the saying: "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" A few decades ago it was a good putdown for that loudmouth at a cocktail party. Today, it would be politically incorrect to consider such a comment anything less than the epitome of philosophical and social barbarism.

Enter, however, the nerd, epitomized by Bill Gates, the now-richest man in the world. And how about those two fellows that became overnight multi-millionaires with the software called "Netscape"? In fact, Silicone Valley is littered with smarty-pants types who are also filthy rich, oftentimes achieving the enviable goal in their twenties.

A while back, I heard a liberal radio talk show host say: "I know plenty of rich people who are dumb." I thought about that for a moment and realized that this was a bizarre and overblown lie. The only instance in which I can possibly see this being the case would be a situation that involved inherited wealth or lottery winnings. The truth of the matter was that this talk show host was subtly attempting to denigrate the acquisition of personal wealth. This is a classic propaganda ploy of the Marxist/Socialist.

There are four ways, and only four ways, that one can attain startling personal wealth. They are: 1. Win the lottery. 2. Inherit millions from a long-lost uncle. 3. Steal the money. 4. Earn the money.

Winning the lotto and inheriting the money don't take any brains. In fact, considering the odds, winning the lotto would almost define those overnight millionaires as people of subnormal intelligence.

Now, are thieves who have stolen millions of dollars all that common? Only in the banking industry. Other than that, most thieves are pretty penny-ante. If you think about it, it is very hard to steal a million or more dollars and get away with it. One might actually consider such a nefarious achievement to be an indication of above-normal, albeit misguided, intelligence.

Now that leaves those wealthy people who have earned their money. This category can be broken down into entertainers (including famous artists) and entrepreneurs.

First, the entertainers. Is Madonna intelligent? Are Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Ice Cube, Jack Nicholson, Rush Limbaugh? I don't know any of these people, but there is something about their style, even if I don't, in some cases, approve of the finished product, that radiates a type of intelligence. Michael Jackson is weird, but he ain't dumb. So I would have to admit that most wealthy entertainers are pretty intelligent. Just the act of seeing a niche and filling it, even with mindless rap music or missile nosecone bras, indicates someone who is smarter than the average bear.

This leads me to the fourth category of wealthy people: Those who earn their money by sheer creative ingenuity. Wozniak, Jobs, Gates, Getty and John D. Rockefeller are not, and were not, stupid men. One might attack the moral motivation that any of these men operate or operated under, but one cannot deny that there is high intelligence being demonstrated in any instance.

So let's get back to the socialist radio talk show host. Write down the names of the five wealthiest people that you personally know. Do not include heirs or heiresses or lotto winners. Leave only the thieves, the entertainers, and entrepreneurs. Now how many of those people, in your opinion, are below average intelligence? Expand the list to the ten wealthiest people you know. Are any of them below average intelligence? Are any of them actually dumb?

The purpose of this exercise is to get you ready to perhaps face something about yourself. Take your list of the five wealthiest people that you know and honestly and mercilessly ask yourself: "Am I smarter than any of those five people?" Be honest! You're not sharing this answer with anyone. Be harshly honest.

I'll bet that the only wealthy people who you think are less intelligent than yourself are from the entertainer group. Not one of the individuals from the entrepreneur groups rate lower than you in intelligence. And, in your daily comings and goings you might have to face the strange phenomenon that virtually everyone you consider to be your intellectual superior also makes more money than you! Ouch! (By the way, I'm not wealthy. Yet.)

This has been an exercise in realism, not naive idealism. It isn't about how the world ought to be. It is about how the world actually is. It is also about the personal baggage called "envy" that many of us lug around in our souls. Socialism, above and beyond anything else, is built upon envy. The socialist wants what the other man has earned or produced without having to put out any effort on his own part. The socialist is a thief and a bloodsucker. He is in denial and spins complex rationalizations so that he does not have to face the realization that he is a contemptible parasite. So the socialist derides the wealthy and productive among us. The socialist flaunts his disdain for "materialism," while secretly plotting the plunder of other people's property through mob rule, taxation and bureaucratic regulation.

The old saying does hold water: "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" And so, if you are not rich (and you would like to be), why would you want to obtain wealth through thievery? Only the individual mired in infantilism and envy wants what is not truly his own.