Smarts and Riches

“If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”

Neither intelligence nor general ability has anything to do with wealth.

Simply look at the wealthiest people in the world. These are not the best of humanity, nor the brightest. They are merely the wealthiest.

If anything, ability tends to relegate one to the upper edge of the lower classes, because it only makes sense that ability should be used. If you have dancing ability, you should dance. If you have musical ability, you should make music. With remarkably few exceptions, using real abilities does not make much money. In the end, it is always limited by time, and time is always too short for riches.

I once calculated that I was worth $2000/hour to one company. They didn’t pay me that, of course, or anywhere near it. But had they paid me that, and had I been able to sustain that work for a full year, I’d have earned four million dollars. A typical lawyer, working at $300/hour, would require nearly seven years to earn four million dollars. A mechanic, working at $50/hour, would work for 40 years to earn four million dollars.

You cannot earn a hundred million dollars in one lifetime with ability. You certainly cannot reach a billion dollars.

The only way to accumulate such a substantial fortune is through leverage, which means — one way or another — gaining a legal claim on the labor of others, and taking for yourself a disproportionate share of their earned reward. There simply is no other way to do it.

That doesn’t require ability. It requires understanding the truth that underlies the game: that it isn’t about your ability at all. It is about other people’s abilities, and their willingness to work for a lot less than they are worth.

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