I don’t know whether I’ve been doing something right, or something wrong

It’s sinking in that I’m never going to be rich. I was just reading about Shane Smith and Vice, and how he built a company that’s nominally worth billions with nothing but chutzpah…oh, and lies and exploitation.

While Vice’s soaring valuation had changed Smith’s life, there was little evidence among its employees that they were working at a company more valuable than the New York Times. Smith had proudly boasted in the past that Vice was “a sweatshop for trustafarians” who could afford to work for little pay, and in 2014, it was still a place where an employee could find herself taking care of a more senior colleague who was wasted after a Vice party and be worried she wouldn’t have enough money in her bank account to give the cabbie cash to clean up any vomit. A senior manager once joked that the company’s hiring strategy had a “22 Rule”: “Hire 22-year-olds, pay them $22,000, and work them 22 hours a day.”

And then I read about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s barfalicious wealth.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, brought in at least $82 million in outside income while serving as senior White House advisers during 2017, according to financial disclosure forms released Monday.

OK, feeling better now. I’m not rich, but apparently you have to be terrible, horrible, conscienceless scumbags to become rich in America.


  1. waydude says

    Well hey come on now. I’m getting close to being worth 3 million and that’s just from working, saving, investing, and diversifying, and most importantly, not carrying any debt, especially credit card debt. I live simply, have a modest house and car, I splurge on food and vacations though because you gotta live life too, and I can still donate a healthy amount to charity, some of those I’ve become aware of by this very site! So, thanks for that.

  2. ck, the Irate Lump says

    That’s nice, waydude. I’m wondering why you thought this post was about you. Or was it just an opportunity to brag?

  3. Kristof says

    “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” – Confucius

  4. chrislawson says

    The problem is that the current Milton Friedman-derived culture dictates that it’s unethical to do anything other than maximise share value. Funny how this message resonates with all the sociopaths in business/finance (many of whom go on to rip off their own shareholders).

  5. cartomancer says

    plenus sacculus meus est aranearum.

    Can I make a request? When we eat the rich, can I be excused from having a portion of these ones? I doubt I could digest the poison they contain. Or is there some method of preparing wealthy people that gets rid of that in the cooking process?

  6. jack lecou says

    In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” – Confucius

    Dunno if this is what Confucius meant, but it is true in a way. After all, the reason that bamboozling investors, ripping off workers, defrauding bank customers, pulling off serial private equity looting schemes, etc., etc. are all viable ways to become stinking rich is ultimately down to bad government*.

    In a society where that sort of amoral wealth-for-its-own-sake crap wasn’t the rule, then being wealthy might indeed be rather less presumptively shameful.

    * Loosely defined, at least. As chrislawson says, a lot of this is down to social approval and even reveration of bad and sociopathic personal and corporate behavior, provided that the claimed goal of the sociopathy is the pursuit of wealth. Which is somehow supposed to make sense.

  7. Peter Bollwerk says

    Very disappointing to hear about this horrible culture at VICE. They seem to be one of the rare places that do really good investigative journalism (More their HBO news show than their web content). But that obviously doesn’t excuse this reprehensible culture.

  8. Usernames! 🦑 says

    I’m not rich, but apparently you have to be terrible, horrible, conscienceless scumbags to become rich in America.

    Once you realize America’s prevailing social philosophy is the Randian, “I got mine, so fuck you,” the assholery of the rich will make sense.