Ever wonder why the rich are always portrayed as bad guys in the media? Is there something wrong with being rich, or do the books and movies have it wrong?
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- Money Speech Atlas Shrugged https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-T0ey0IKDA
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Connor: Hey Brittany.
Brittany: Hey Connor. How are you?
Connor: I am well, I’ve been watching a lot of news lately and probably a little too much if I’m being honest. And I’ve been seeing a lot of news over the past weeks and months about rich people, you know, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos of Amazon. And there’s a lot of interesting things. What do you think what do you see when you read the news about rich people? What’s kind of the thing that we see a lot of.
Brittany: Well, I think they’re pretty cool. Elon Musk specifically is one of my heroes, but I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t agree with me, especially with Jeff Bezos from Amazon. You hear a lot of things like no one should be that rich or, you know, he has too much money, so that’s something. So that’s something I definitely hear a lot,
Connor: You know, I, I think something about rich people and I think they make our lives a lot more convenient. I think that because they have access to so many resources because they have lots of money or they have the ability to buy lots of things or start a new company. I think that these people who have created wealth, these people who have accumulated resources, they are now in a position to do things that I can’t, I don’t have that much money. I don’t have that many resources. So Brittany, what kind of phone do you use?
Brittany: An iPhone? Of course.
Connor: Yeah. I have an iPhone as well. Yeah. So, you know, think of apple over the years, they’ve been successful enough to make a lot of money and, they still have a lot of money. And so they’ve been able to invest a lot of money into inventing things like the iPhone that make our lives better. I mean, my wife would probably say the iPhone hasn’t made my life better cuz I use it way too much. Right. But in a lot of ways we have these amazing inventions that, you know, on like this computer, I’m using an apple computer. You and I are on other sides of the country and here we are chatting. So do you, do you think that the people who criticizes rich people, they gotta be just totally wrong, right? Or is there any kind of merit to what they’re saying? Do you, are they right at all that rich people shouldn’t be hoarding this much and it’s wrong for people to be rich?
Brittany: You know, let me play devil’s advocate here with Connor. I think a lot of people see that a lot of people are, are poor or struggling. Right. And, and they are a little bit upset or they don’t understand why Jeff Bezos gets to make. I think I just heard somewhere that he’s now the first, trillionaire, and other people can’t put food on their table. And so a lot of times that can confusion maybe, does that lead to people getting angry, maybe envy, maybe getting a little jealous of what other people have.
Connor: Yeah. I think that’s right. I bet jealousy is a part of it. Another interesting thing too is when you say someone like Jeff Bezos is a, a trillion or about to be a trillion, that doesn’t mean he actually has that much money. Right. It just means he’s supposedly worth that much. So he owns, you know, a large portion of Amazon in that case.
Brittany: Right? Yeah.
Connor: Elon Musk might own a lot of Tesla or what’s his space company, SpaceX?
Brittany: SpaceX, but he doesn’t have that money in his pocket. Right. He can’t go to his bank and say, I would like to withdraw, you know, if it was Bezos a trillion dollars please.
Brittany: They wouldn’t, they wouldn’t say yes
Connor: Right, exactly! And so they’re almost like the word is cash poor in the sense that a lot of times these wealthy people, they just own successful companies, but they wouldn’t have money. In that amount that they’re supposedly worth until someone else came along and said, Hey, I’d like to buy your company. Here’s, you know, a trillion dollars or a billion dollars. So just because someone is worth a lot of money, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have that much money. Now most of like Jeff Bezos, he has a lot of money, right. Not a trillion dollars, but he, he does have a lot
Of money. He probably does. Okay.
Connor: He probably does already. He had a nice boat. I saw an image of one of his boats, but why like, you know, we live in a society where some people can get really rich and a lot of people are poor. And so a question I’ve heard a lot of times is, is it right for some people to have so much money? Isn’t, it like you can ask this question for maybe like a religious standpoint right. Of inequality. And people would have feelings about that. But from a strictly economic point of view, when we’re talking about money and, how people share their resources, is the criticism right at all that certain people just shouldn’t be allowed to have that much or that it’s wrong to accumulate that much.
Brittany: It’s funny. And again, like we talked about, I can see where maybe people think that because they see people who are poor, but, everybody needs a job to put food on their table to survive. And the people who are doing that, the people who are creating jobs for people like you or me, or, you know, the kids listening, their mom or dad or all those people, creating the jobs are usually the Jeff Bezos, right? The, Elon Musks of the world. They own all these companies and somebody has to work in these companies. I mean, imagine, I don’t know the, the number, but imagine how many employees Amazon has alone. Right.
Brittany: So these are people that wouldn’t be able to feed themselves or, or pay rent and live in a house unless they have these jobs.
Connor: Yeah. Think about it from like a charity standpoint. Even if I see someone in need or I want to help someone and I want to give them a job or I want to, you know, help them in some way. I can’t do that unless I have money. I can’t do that unless I have some resources to share with someone else. And so if we want people to create jobs, if we want companies to grow, you need people who have wealth. You need someone to be able to start a company. And you know, you don’t need money to start a company, but Brittany, what happens if you’re poor and you start a company, you’re gonna go to someone else and ask for them to invest in company, right? You need a rich person to help you out, cuz you have to pay the bills and you have to hire people. So the market becomes more successful. We become more successful as a result of wealthy people who are able to kind of share their resources with us. Now here’s a question, Brittany, have you ever noticed that in the media there’s often these portrayals of even like I’m thinking like cartoons and movies, like Hollywood really likes to play up the fact that, you know, rich people are evil. You look at like the, you know, the tycoons or I even remember growing up watching did you ever watch Ducktails when?
Brittany: Oh, I loved ducktails I still watch Ducktails on Disney plus. Great.
Connor: Yeah. They only that’s right. Disney plus they put it all out and in fact, I think they’re even remaking right now. Ducktails you know, you’ve got Scrooge McDuck, you’ve got these characters who are always portray even a Christmas Carol. Right.
Brittany: I was gonna say, Scrooge is, is the bad guy because he is, got so much money
Connor: Exactly! And he clearly has a personality.
Brittany: He’s got some other problems.
Connor: Right. But he is portrayed as bad because you know, he’s accumulated this wealth. And I think that’s a problem because it leads, I think kids to grow up and think that it’s bad to earn money. It’s that capitalism, you know, is bad or that we shouldn’t try and become rich. Brittany, are you trying to become rich? What are your goals? Do you ever feel like having kind of grown up with all this media? Do you ever feel conflicted with that message? Like maybe it’s wrong to try and earn money or does that not become an issue for you?
Brittany: That’s never been an issue for me. I’ve always seen money as, as a tool. There’s, there’s a great book, Atlas shrugged, if you ever get around reading it as a very long book where there’s a beautiful speech about money and how money can be a tool for, you know, wonderful things and to fuel the world. And I’ve always seen it as that, that money is a tool. Do some bad people have money. Yeah. But a lot of really good people have money. And a lot of really innovative people have money who are putting that money to use. Another thing that I found really interesting. There’s a economist nameLudwig von Mises and he talked about another way that wealthy people kind of help people like you and me out that we didn’t think about. So you and I use silverware every day when we eat, right?
Brittany: Well, people didn’t use to do that. It was the wealthy, because they were the only ones who could afford silverware because as its name implies, silverware had silver in it. Right. It was very expensive. You couldn’t not every peasant had that. So it became a normal thing when the wealthy people were able to afford it first and they started using the silverware. Well, eventually it kind of trickled down and they were able to find, you know, less expensive material to make it out of. But because the rich were able to pioneer this field to do things first simple things that you and I do every day now, like use like use silverware or, or iPods before you had to be very wealthy to, to buy an iPod.
Brittany: But because the wealthy were willing to spend their money and, and buy these things first, the cost has eventually gone down and people like us have these things.
Connor: I, think about that a lot when it comes to even simple stuff like having a refrigerator or having air conditioning, you imagine if you were, you know, a king in Europe somewhere, and you had all this gold and all this money, but you know, an ice cube was like near impossible to come by. You lived this hot area and all you want is a fresh drink, but there wasn’t really good refrigeration back then. And you didn’t have this technology developed where it’s now super common to just, you know, you can go on, on Craigslist or on some classified and probably for $20, you can find a, a used freezer that works to freeze, whatever you want at any time or air conditioning. It’s just amazing to think about that. And yeah, you’re right. It it’s, it requires that those things first be invented.
It requires that they be produced right manufactured and usually you know, think of Elon Musk. We were talking about Elon Musk, how did they start Tesla? Well, they had their Roadster and it cost a lot of money. So obviously it was only wealthy people who could buy that first car. But what happened Elon was able to use all that money from, from the rich people, buying their first vehicle so that he now had a ton of money to invest in making a cheaper car and then a cheaper car. And then as time went on with all of the money he was able to use, he now has cars that are pretty amazing and that people can afford compared to like normal, you know, gas powered cars that they would get. So you gotta wonder, had rich people, not invested had, people not been able to accumulate those resources and give them to Elon. Would Elon have been able to turn Tesla into the company that is today? And if not, that’s a bummer for a lot of us, you know, missing out on, on all those things.
I have a lot of friends with Teslas. I’d be very sad if we could not ride in them. Great cars.
It’s interesting though, to think about history like that, that because people have accumulated wealth, we have, you know, the creature comforts that we do today, a lot of the inventions that have been made that now are kind of common place again, you know, the, the most powerful, wealthy people in history never could have dreamed having what we do. And, and we owe it to to these people who are, are rich. You know, what I found funny Brittany is I remember years ago there were, do you remember the Occupy Wallstreet Protest?
I do remember that was about 2012, right? Yeah. 2011, 2011.
Yeah.. Some, yeah, sometime around then. And there were a lot of people who were upset with Wallstreet, which is a nickname for, you know banks and investment companies that take people’s money and invest them into the market. So Wallstreet is kind of this nickname for a lot of these companies. And I thought it was funny because there were a lot of these people who do not like the free market who were protesting and they, they did not like what they were seeing. And you know, some of them had some right concerns, cuz there was this weird issue going on where the government was actually kind of in bed with Wallstreet and they were doing some things wrong. But what I found funny is a lot of these people who were protesting were saying, you know, tax the rich and you know, take all their money and they shouldn’t have money and, and this, that, and the other. And yet they were usually using like iPhones to text one another and organize their protests and record videos. And even like the clothes they were wearing, I’m like, you know, you guys are using all of these products of the market that require people who have amassed wealth and then invested it. And here they are criticizing the very system that supports them.
Brittany: Yeah. It’s nuts. And I remember when that happened, like you said, there were some reasons because there was the 2008 recession, which we’ll talk about in another episode where people did start worrying that maybe, maybe the ultra rich though, the mega rich were, were hurting us. But like you said, you said something important. It wasn’t that they were rich. It was that they were working with government. Right. They’re working with people in charge, which is, is not, is not a product of being rich. Right. It was a different and different situation. So that’s something to think about that it’s that being rich is not, is not something to be ashamed about or something to, to look down on someone for, it’s not a bad thing.
Connor: I think that the free market is really all about service. In other words, you know, I think I mentioned this on a, a previous episode when I, you know, need to pull weeds. Ah, I really don’t like pulling weeds. It would be someone would be serving me if I could pay them a bit of money and they would go fix it all for me or plumbing. I don’t know how to do plumbing. And so if I tried to do it, it would take me like 10 times, as long as someone who knows what they’re doing, a plumber who comes to my house when I call them and lets me pay them to do it. Instead of me doing it, that is service to me, I feel served. That’s why it’s called customer service. And so think of Jeff Bezos, how has he made money? There, there are certain ways to make money. You can steal money. You can be the government print money, but Jeff Bezos and people like him, how do they make their money? Typically in the market, they make it by serving as many people as possible when I can go on Amazon and I can order something. And then the next day or two days after that, yeah, it shows up on my doorstep. That’s mind blowing.
Brittany: It’s amazing.
Connor: I don’t have to go to the store anymore. Right. I’m, I’m an introvert. I like to just sit at home and have my things come to me. Well,
Brittany: And during we just got through the pandemic and we couldn’t leave our houses, how many people were able to get things to their house because of
Connor: Amazon. And I saw people criticize that, you know, oh, during coronavirus and all these problems, Jeff Bezos is earning even more money. He’s that’s when the trillionaire thing came up right?
Brittany: Yeah, It was.
Connor: I thought to myself, what an amazing service cause can you imagine a pandemic without Amazon or, you know, without Netflix or things like this to like keep us busy or even zoom, right? Like video chatting with grandma or friends. And and so it’s a massive service that if I have to stay home or, you know, if my wife is sick and I don’t want to go to the store, but someone can bring me my groceries for our family. That’s an amazing service. So Jeff Bezos, the rich people who use the market to accumulate, well, how have they done it? They’ve done it by figuring out a way to serve a ton of people and make that happy. Why wouldn’t we wanna reward the people who serve us and make our lives better? That’s funny.
Brittany: No brainer.
Connor: What’s funny. I’m looking out the window right now. Literally an Amazon truck just pulled up to bark outside.
Brittany: Not product placement.
Connor: Someone’s here to serve me and I’m happy. They got a smile on my face. Well guys, next time you hear that the richer evil or it’s wrong that someone has money. Think instead they must be serving a lot of people. I wonder how they figured out how to help. So many people who have insurance. Like thank you, take my money, cuz I’d rather pay you instead of doing it. I think it’s a smarter way to think about it. Great. Great topic, Brittany. Thanks for bringing it up.
Brittany: Of course. And we’ll see you guys next time.