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Is It Wrong to Focus On Making Money?



Even though speaking about money is often taboo in Western society, I would say that it is not at all wrong to have money-making as a first goal, provided that a person does so honestly and fairly, with generosity along the way.


Why Do People Feel Squeamish Speaking About Making Money As their Primary Goal?


There are a variety of reasons. In Western society, speaking about money, romance, politics, and religion are highly personal topics, with many people having a wide range of experiences, attitudes, and beliefs. More practically, for someone to always be thinking and talking about money comes across as unbecoming, the way always thinking and talking about eating, video games, etc. would be.


Second, money is one way we compare ourselves to others. Someone who makes more or less money can quickly feel alienated from the group. Socially skilled people are wise never to make people feel alienated unnecessarily.


Third, there often seems to be guilt associated with wanting money. While stories of Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol or even lofty stories from the Bible or other religious texts speak of money being a corrupting influence, observing people behave shows a much more diverse picture. If money or the pursuit of money was so dirty, how come there is so much fine art, gold, or currency kept in collections by religious organizations. Why not spend it immediately to ease the problems of the poorest believers worldwide?


Why Don't the Established Upper-Middle Class or Upper-Class Speak About Money As Openly As Others?


In truth, the most common way a person gets one million U.S. dollars or more is through inheritance. While it is true many people are self-made, even having no family money or relationships, there are also millions of people such as Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, and many lesser-known people that received a wide variety of money and support to get a head start in life and have a safety net in case of failure.


While somebody who has or will inherit tens of millions or more dollars never speaks about money, he certainly has money managers who invest conservatively to ensure enough security for future generations.


Even those with a million or less inheritance may still work but often have some freedom to do lesser paying jobs, such as teaching, community service, or jobs that might be highly fulfilling but never pay more than a middle-income salary, without ownership of a company.

How Come Wealthy People Make Little Money, But Still Don't Lose Property, Etc.?

Especially in the U.K. and European countries with much history, family relationships can play a subtle but consistently effective role in maintaining social status.


Traditionally, after the Roman Empire, many small kingdoms eventually grew and became the modern countries of today. The head of the household usually had titles, such as a king, duke, or lord. Through military service, someone could move up to a knight, officer, or later a lesser lord to help the king's agenda. The lower classes were taxed, and wealth made its way up the social strata. The land was dispensed along with title and prestige. European colonialization only intensified such wealth effects.


While such history may seem obscure, many people still inherit titles, land, and relationships for hundreds of years. These relationships may help influence getting into top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Ivy League schools, getting jobs at certain boutique firms, or these subtle differences that can help give someone the edge for an improved quality of life.


So, If Everyone Cares About Money, How to Start Making Some?

The surest path is through getting a more formal equation. The Heckman Equation shows that the average investment in traditional, non-profit education yields a 15% per year investment starting in early childhood education, followed by an 8% return on investment with high school and each additional year of higher education.

While the 10, 20, 30, and 40-year investment of universities and individual majors has been collected, the bigger picture provides that although expensive, legitimate non-profit education consistently provides returns. If nothing else, notice that the established upper-class families have a higher incidence of generations of family members at top-ranked, prestigious schools, even if individual members may be lackluster.

Beyond being smart, knowledgeable, hard-working, and good in social situations, going to top universities may help increase the prestige of you and your family, especially if you are not already in those (unnecessarily) exclusive circles.

Beyond educational pathways, the simplest way is to start working hard, find a profession that is a good fit, save money and invest sensibly. That is how nearly everyone ends up with more money than when they started.

Does Pursuing Money Never Get Old?

No matter what government, transactional business, trading, and money-making have only increased over centuries. Whether we look at the Middle Ages, Soviet-style communist regimes, or places that have outlawed money, the absence of free trade, investment, and capital markets has caused a lack of growth and impaired quality of life, whereas opening up capital markets in countries like China, Vietnam, Bangladesh almost always increases the economy and quality of life, especially in the long-term.

While the modalities of money-making, etc., continue to evolve with time, an individual almost certainly will get tired of it, especially towards the end of life.

High achievers in their teens and early twenties often pursue sports and formal education, mid-twenties until forties often pursue long, hard hours for career advancement, forty to sixty years often spend increasing time with their family, and those around sixty-five and seventy must retire for a variety of factors.

While 25-year-olds can work all day, every single day of the year at an investment bank, corporate law firm, consulting firm, real estate agent, having their own business, etc. may prioritize money-making as their only goal in life, almost always that too will pass as they marry, raise a family, or simply get tired of chasing money.

Nonetheless, if someone wants anything, including money, and does not have it, set goals and earn it. There is no shame in making money as a goal, provided someone does it honestly and fairly, sharing some proceeds along the way. If many famous universities were named after newly wealthy donors who donated enough money to have a school named after them, it is not a frowned-upon behavior. For those who have graduated from universities and get requests for donations, it even seems an expected practice.

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