Imagine you had a million dollars. Pretty good, right? Now imagine it’s 10 million dollars. Take minute. Really picture it. That’s a life changing sum of money. Think about your job, your home, your family, your friends. Think things would be different? Ok, now really go for it. Imagine you have $100 million dollars. See any changes in that picture? How many of your current worries would go away? Saving for college for your kids? Not a problem. Mortgage and car loans? Gone. Planning a family vacation, new car, home improvement? Whatever you want, it’s yours. Pretty amazing, right?
So, what would you worry about that you don’t worry about now? Health concerns are almost the same. Rich people have health problems too, although with $100 million you’d have access to the best healthcare in the world. What else would keep you up at night? Maybe you’d be worried that one of your money managers was under-performing and you’ll have to that account up for review and proposals. Maybe another money manager is over-performing and you’re worried he’s another Ponzi-schemer like Bernie Madoff. Perhaps the possible changes in estate tax law make you worry that your family trust will have to be reworked. Or that the election results might result in greater regulation of any business in which you hold a stake. Maybe you’re worried that your net worth gain of 13% last year won’t continue next year. Or maybe you just have the multi-multi-millionaires’ most common nightmare, that the ‘temporary’ Bush tax cuts will finally expire and you’ll see your taxes jump.
It must be rough having those problems weighing on your mind. Can you imagine the stress? The concern? It’s a tremendous load to bear. Here’s the good news – you most likely will never have to worry about those things! If you’re an average American, you don’t have $100 million. Instead you have net worth of around $77 thousand dollars. That’s down 40% from 2007.
Your concerns are more…common. You have to pay the bills with an income that has remained stagnant or dropped for the past two years. You might have to save for college or pay for medical expenses which have relative inflation rates far exceeding those of the general cost of living. You might worry about the rising cost of gas which is up 30% in the last 2 years.
Personally, I think it’s fun to imagine I’m rich every now and then. But I have to admit it’s really hard to closely empathize with someone whose entire existence is unrelated to mine. The wealthy have private healthcare, private travel, private education, and access to political decision-makers that you and I will never have. So what? The wealthy live very different lives. Well I have a theory. As hard as it is for me or you to put ourselves in their shoes and feel their pain, I think it’s just as hard for them to relate to OUR needs. How can anyone who has such amazing privilege and advantage understand the trials of people struggling to make ends meet? How can they see the importance of a bus line or a breakfast program at school? How can they understand the impact of a cut to emergency public services or state university funding?
I think most Americans would do better if we elected representatives who actually represented us. It seems like common sense to me that politicians would be much better equipped to address our concerns if they shared them.