David Brooks has the courage to ask the question that's on everyone's lips:
David Brooks: Yes. I was going to say that for the first time in human history, rich people work longer hours than middle class or poor people. How do you construct a rich versus poor narrative when the rich are more industrious?
The rich, who will speak for them?
8 thoughts on “Rich Dad/Poor Dad”
Maybe the richness to which Mr. Brooks is referring is something … spiritual, or metaphysical of some sort. Because, indeed, idealists might work more … while idealizing.
It's not an uncommon viewpoint among the chattering classes. Think, for example, of the arguments of George Will and Robert Samuelson: Why would anybody need to retire before the age of, say, 70 when it's so easy to push a pencil?
Check this one out: http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi/2010/04/10/brooks-let-them-eat-work/
<a href="http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=04&year=2010&base_name=about_those_working_stats">Monica Potts makes a good point at Tapped</a> – a lot of hourly employees want to work more hours, but they're limited in their hours to avoid payment of benefits and/or overtime.
Perhaps Brooks would advise them to get a second job?
About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Nearly-half-of-US-households-apf-1105567323.html?x=0&.v=1)
By David's logic, half of US population are lazy. Matt's blog (see John's link above) has it right on: the difference is not that one works harder or not, it's rather that one gets paid better.
This is a gross simplification. Now, where work is dangerous or demanding of specialized skills the pay will generally be greater. To say therefore that people making $70,000 a year are usually more productive or useful for society than those making $30,000 might not be such a stretch. However, to then take that and extrapolate from there that those individuals at the top 1 or 2 % of society are therefore the most productive is ridiculous. Some are probably very industrious, but others are just using the power of the money they already have to work the system to build wealth. Worthless people do inherit money of course.
Meanwhile those at the very bottom are probably working in some very trying conditions because they need to. An illegal immigrant working off the books isn't receiving the pay bonus for doing dangerous work that say a coal miner in West Virginia is. While what he's saying may hold true within the 'middle class' itself, it in no way can be extrapolated for the very rich or the very poor.
Of course it is a simplification. But, the overall point I think is right: harder/industrious work does not necessarily mean better pay. The reverse is also true: better pay does not mean necessarily harder/industrious work. To make such a general statement like Brooks did "the rich are more industrious" it's just ignorant.
I think Andrew is agreeing with you.
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