Maskering Your Own Deskiny

It’s not easy bein’ me
Masker of me own deskiny
And I hates responsibiliky
It’s not easy bein’ me _Popeye

In plain non-Popeye English, mastering your own destiny. How does one grow to dance to his own tune instead of some petty tyrant’s?

Popular culture leaves most people with the impression that to be their own masters they must either be very rich, or become the ruler of a rich and powerful nation. If that is true, how do people become very rich?

How People Get Rich

Top 10 Industries Producing U.S. Billionaires

1. Investments: 100 billionaires
2. Technology: 51 billionaires
3. Media: 37
4. Energy: 35
5. Food and Beverage*: 31
5. Service*: 31
7. Fashion and Retail: 28
8. Real Estate: 27
9. Manufacturing: 18
10. Sports: 15

Worldwide, the industry rankings look a lot different: investments retains the number one spot (as it does in the U.S.) with 143 billionaires, followed by fashion and retail (123 billionaires) and real estate (102 billionaires). Tech ranks number 5.

… Global Top 10 Industries Producing Forbes Billionaires

1. Investments: 143
2. Fashion & Retail: 123
3. Real Estate: 102
4. Diversified: 97
5. Technology: 90
6. Manufacturing: 85
7. Energy: 78
8. Finance: 77
9. Food & Beverage: 69
10. Media: 64 _Forbes

Investments may be the largest single category, but add them up and you will see that most billionaires became wealthy through some form of business or enterprise. And investors need starting capital before they can invest, which many billionaire investors raised through selling profitable businesses.

99% of all rich and successful people started off nearly broke. Did you know that most self-made millionaires have had serious financial trouble or have been close to bankrupt several times? Most of them failed several times before they finally found the right opportunity that brought them into financial success. _

Some married or inherited wealth, and some got wealthy through government connections and contracts.

If you live under a government that spends most of its nation’s GDP through public spending, it is more likely that you had to cozy up to a government, and grease a few palms, to get your billions.

Here are some nations with high spending to GDP ratios. Corruption and nepotism is just a way of life in such countries. Over the decades the US has slipped into the same corrupt habits of government, and under President Obama the US is trending the same direction even more quickly.

Of course, becoming the ruler of a rich and powerful country generally involves even more corruption, nepotism, and frequently a large amount of bloodthirstiness.

I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better. __ Sophie Tucker, Russian Born Vaudevillian

Wealth is almost always easier to lose than to gain, but mastery of oneself and one’s destiny is carved into the synapses over a lifetime — and not so easily lost. Widely competent people who know how to distribute their income, can have the best of both worlds.

With the capitalist class, they are researching investments, building shopping centers, finding investors, launching new products, or going after big clients every single day. When only one of these activities pays off big, it’s enough to be set for life. To the outside world, it looks like mere luck. _

Self-made millionaires and billionaires work long hard hours. They work much harder for themselves than they would likely work for anyone else. Why do they work so hard to accumulate more wealth than they can spend? There are many reasons — from building philanthropic foundations, to assuring the well-being of their descendants in perpetuity, to just leaving a mark on the world. And then some of them will always hear a loud voice in their minds that tells them they are still impoverished, still not safe from the unpredictable ravages of fate — no amount will ever be enough.

If a person is the slave of his own drive to wealth and/or power, he is not the master of his own destiny.

I sometimes hear people sighing: “If I could only win the lottery… all my problems would be solved.” But lottery winners often go bankrupt in a few years, as do others who find themselves recipients of “easy money.”

Callie Rogers blew a 2003 U.K. lottery jackpot of $3 million on shopping, cocaine, friends and breast augmentation and told reporters two years ago she was working as a maid. William “Bud” Post squandered his 1988 Pennsylvania prize of more than $16 million on houses, vehicles and bad businesses before going bankrupt and serving time for firing a shotgun at a bill collector before his death in 2006. _MarketWatch

Getting rich and staying rich are two different things. People who get lucky at the track, or receive sums of money via a similar windfall, tend to treat their winnings differently than money that they worked hard to earn. The money burns a hole in their pockets until it is gone.

But if the person’s very essence incorporates competence, resourcefulness, inventiveness, and good habits of thrift and wise investment — he has a better chance to be reasonably comfortable financially, as well as the master of his own destiny.

Once a competent, resilient, dangerous person is well-off, what should he do with his wealth in terms of supporting others? Here is one point of view:

It is almost always a mistake to provide gifts of cash and support to those relatives who are unable to generate high incomes on their own or who are constantly in financial trouble. Think of the incentive system you setup! One son becomes a physician and one daughter an attorney and you say they don’t “need” your money, while at the same time you provide free rent, board, and bailouts for their sibling, who sits at home in credit card debt and unable to find work.

… You’re an idiot if you give “equal shares” of money to your children when some are clearly more productive than others. You’re a damn fool if you give more to the unsuccessful ones.

You have managed to effectively turn them into a financial and credit junkie; it’s unlikely they’ll ever get over their addiction. You become, in effect, a crack dealer providing one more hit. The customer tells you it’s the last one they’ll ever need but the fundamental, underlying problem is their inability to manage money. They postpone the action needed to fix their life because they know that the cavalry is always coming (if they beg and whine long enough). _

Does the above scenario remind you of certain policies that welfare states tend to adopt? And is it any surprise that such welfare states cultivate and perpetuate a permanent underclass?

If a person is broadly competent and resourceful, he can achieve high levels of comfort, autonomy, and self-respect with much lower levels of income than the so-called “US Poverty Level.” Know-how, invention, barter, energetic resourcefulness, and the inter-dependent cooperation of groups can work wonders.

A nation can easily become impoverished from the top down — through destructive government policies. Consider the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, for example. Or the fate of Eastern Europe under the Soviets. Contrast the quality of life in North and South Korea. Bad governments are the death of opportunity and hope.

For a nation to become wealthy in a sustainable manner, its citizens must be given good minds, good skills, and good habits — one at a time, from the bottom up. And they must have the opportunity to develop their potential, free of capricious government interference.

That is something to think about, when contemplating becoming the master of your own destiny.

Bonus Round:

Professional athletes who have gone broke

How one $30 million lottery winner went broke

Broke celebrities

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2 Responses to Maskering Your Own Deskiny

  1. Stephen says:

    I suspect the lotto winners’ fates depend on their innate IQ. I suspect smarter winners behave like relatively intelligent inheritors of wealth and simply frugally live off the interest. I know of a man who won the US lottery and has managed to live off the interest for decades. He was intelligent enough to maintain the spoils but not really smart enough to contribute anything spectacular to the economy. So the money allowed him to live his dream of not working.

  2. Matt Musson says:

    I am reminded of the Lotto winner who received $10,000,000 and was flat broke 5 years later.
    When people asked what happened to all the money he replied, “I spend $5 million on wine, women and song. And, I just wasted the rest!”

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