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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

A billionaire says there is no downside to being a billionaire. Why should I not believe what they said?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21937 points ) October 29th, 2011

On 20/20 Barbara Walters interviewed four billionaires, one being John Paul DeJoria and wife Eloise, of the Patrón premium tequila, and Paul Mitchell salon brand. When Barbara Walters asked them, what was the best thing about being a billionaire, Eloise replied, no stress, and freedom. When asked, what was the downside, she could not think of any. Why should I not believe? Why should I believe, as many non-billionaires, or multimillionaires think, that people that are as wealthy, are stressful, cynical of being played, fearful of being robbed, and just plain miserable? None of the billionaires Walters interviewed seemed unhappy to have the money. It is just sour grapes of the so-called 99?

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7 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

Ask yourself this: If you were Eloise DeJoria, or any other billionaire, would you feel comfortable telling Barbara Walters and her several million viewers about the downsides of being a billionaire right now? Wouldn’t talking about the downsides seem like self-involved bitching about how nothing is ever good enough for you? Wouldn’t everyone think that you are woefully out of touch with what suffering really is? Would talking about the downsides be at all a wise PR move; isn’t it quite likely that if it didn’t have a serious negative impact on your company, at the very least, the company’s board members might see this as an opportunity to make their political move against you and oust you? Isn’t public opinion already against you enough without adding this on? Did you not get to this position as a billionaire by being PR savvy, by knowing what people want to hear and what they really don’t want to hear, and then giving it to them?

It’s not that I think she’s necessarily lying (I have no idea if she is or not), so much as that I just can’t imagine why she would say otherwise, so a line of credibility has not been established.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t think anyone has stated millionaires are miserable. Some may have said that money isn’t everything, but no one made a generalized rule that people with that much money are miserable. You saw an interview of 4 people…...Happiness is subjective. Do you just assume all poor people are sad, then anyone making a magic number is in bliss for their rest of their lives?

There is a spectrum. Yes, people tend to be happier when all of their needs are met, but once you’re making 50 times more than what you need, the happiness doesn’t just keep going up with the more money you have. It’s going to reach a plateau. and I’m pretty sure that plateau isn’t in the multibillions.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Blackberry there is actually a study about that, somewhere.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Aethelflaed It’s not that I think she’s necessarily lying (I have no idea if she is or not), so much as that I just can’t imagine why she would say otherwise, so a line of credibility has not been established. There it is there, isn’t it. If I were to take is she was less than genuine, I would have to use that same brush on the person interviewed as their reason to be apart of an “occupy movement”. When they say they are there because they have no health insurance, can’t find a job, and the apartment they are just managing to keep is little more than a moldy roach factory, they are making their plight out as worse to gain sympathy points. Seeing that being poor is somewhat trendy now, because so many people believe they are, or close to it.

@Blackberry Do you just assume all poor people are sad, then anyone making a magic number is in bliss for their rest of their lives? I say those who are poor but care nothing for 20th century trappings can be quite happy. People get along without heating and A/C, hot and cold running water, cell phones, PCs, cars, cable, gas or electric oven, dishwashers, washing machines and the likes. We usually say those people are living in the 3rd world. I am sure people can be happy without all those trappings if they don’t mind walking, washing their clothes and dishes by hand, and cooking outdoors over an open flame, etc.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf @Blackberry Indeed there is. You can read the original study here, and the Wall Street Journal does a good job summarizing:
The study… suggested that there were two forms of happiness: day-to-day contentment (emotional well-being) and overall “life assessment,” which means broader satisfaction with one’s place in the world. While a higher income didn’t have much impact on day-to-day contentment, it did boost people’s “life assessment.”...The magic income: $75,000 a year. As people earn more money, their day-to-day happiness rises. Until you hit $75,000. After that, it is just more stuff, with no gain in happiness.[1] [Phil Izzo] adjusts the dollar value of the “happiness income” identified in the study based on cost-of-living for areas around the country…people living in and around New York City need earn $163,500 [to hit the happiness plateau].[2] The study found that income had far less correlation to the more emotional “enjoyment of life,” which include things like laughing, joy, and connections to family and friends…In short, when measuring their life in comparison to others, incomes mattered most. When measuring their inner life, money has less of an impact.[3]

@Hypocrisy_Central Ok. I never said you should take anecdotal evidence for OWS.

wonderingwhy's avatar

So here’s the thing, being a billionaire probably doesn’t have much personal downside. Either what they stated in the interview meets your threshold for truth or it doesn’t and falls somewhere between ‘maybe true – grey area – outright lie’. Same goes for the stance of the 99.

There are certainly complications to being a billionaire. Managing your assets, retaining your position, establishing your social position, for example – pretty much the same as anyone else just on a bigger scale and you likely use different strategies to accomplish them.

If someone wants to hand me a billion dollars without strings, I’m taking it. I’ll deal with the problems that come with being rich after I get done swimming in my newfound cash.

However, keep in mind, having those sums of money does not preclued one from being stressed, cynical, fearful, or miserable. Making blanket statements in either direction means little beyond loosely establishing a point of view or a talking point.

@Hypocrisy_Central regarding your response to @Aethelflaed as I said above either what they say meets your standard for truth or it doesn’t. But don’t assume because you believe one side is doing something the other side must be doing the same. By analyzing one side and coming to a conclusion then applying that conclusion to the other side prior to its own independent analysis you are creating an unfounded negative bias. Analyze both sides equally and draw separate conclusions.

@Hypocrisy_Central In your response to @Blackberry You seem to be implying that if, to borrow one of your examples, you don’t have a dishwasher you can only be happy if you enjoy washing dishes by hand. What does happiness have to do with washing dishes? Perhaps you enjoy it perhaps you hate it, I fail to see how either prevents or guarantees happiness? This all goes to the point of: being able to afford a dishwasher (or a thousand of them) may make your life easier but it in no way provides an assurance of happiness. I say this from a position of: “Lasting happiness comes from only from within.”

With all that said I don’t think comparing billionaires happiness to the 99’s comments really makes little sense. I don’t think the 99’s are complaining about a lack of happiness, rather they seem to be complaining about, among other things, a lack of opportunity to make life easier – by having things such as health insurance, a job, and an apartment they can afford that isn’t little more than a moldy roach factory.

@Aethelflaed thanks for both links, especially the WSJ link; I had but, couldn’t locate, a copy of the Princeton paper but the WSJ one is new for me.

Freelancer's avatar

You should believe them because they are billionaires and you are not. They know what they are talking about since they have been billionaires and experienced being that rich. Moreover, they could have complained about how bad it was to make us poor feel better but they gave an honest opinion instead. Lastly, they may have been poor once and now that they are rich, they can compare the two income levels in a way that someone who has only been poor simply cannot.

Billionaires can hire people called CEO’s to experience the stress for them. They can hire private detectives to check out new people possibly trying to play them. They can real top of the line security systems and not the two hours away slow response rent a cops or police that we have. Bored from having seen everything and done everything perhaps but not miserable. And the world is so complex that only families who have been rich for four generations have actually seen most things worth seeing therefore new billionaires are likely to not experience boredom. No surprise then that none of the billionaires Walters interviewed seemed unhappy to have the money. We live in an age of envy where the have-nots are jealous. I myself like many others don’t want to end capitalism because I plan to be filthy rich myself one day soon.

The 99 percent should direct their anger at the Koch types who back polluters and deliberately try to destroy the world and kill the human race by stopping all attempts to reverse global warming. If they believe global warming is a myth, then they should not mind anyone tilting at windmills. Because they are hypocrites who deep down know climate is changing, this makes them evil. The Monty Burns types are miserable but most billionaires are green environmentalists and quite happy and can look in a mirror without revulsion and can sleep undisturbed by guilt.

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