What Does The Rich Say?

If wealthy enough you start believing your own hype and thinking shit like this is a good idea.

Get wealthy enough and you start believing your own hype and thinking shit like this is a good idea.

Earlier I espoused my pet theory (my precious!) that the odds of being an asshole increase exponentially with the acquisition of wealth. For example, if someone is in the top one percent there’s an asshole threshold (AT) of 99 percent. For the top .01 percent that grows to 99.99 percent.

I said at the time I said that I thought extreme wealth was a function of “lie, cheat and steal (LCS).”

Is it a chicken and egg kind of thing? Are people in the top .01 percent because they were born with LCS? Or was LCS something they had to learn to get there? Chicken and egg.

Thinking about this, I thought to myself, “If only there was some way to know.”

Then I realized that an existing data study might be useful. But what existing data is available? How about words taken right out of their own mouths? Perhaps that might provide some insight into their character and world view.

Case Study – Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc was a “restauranteur” and founder of McDonalds Corporation and included in Time: The 100 Most Important People of the Century. Perhaps not in the .01 percent Kroc was still considerably wealthy, worth about $500 million when he died in 1984. The Kroc family now has an estimated worth of $1.7 billion.

Suffice it say he’s sold a few “hamburgers” and made a few bucks. Let’s see what he has to say.

If any of my competitors were drowning, I’d stick a hose in their mouth and turn on the water. It is ridiculous to call this an industry. This is not. This is rat eat rat, dog eat dog. I’ll kill ’em, and I’m going to kill ’em before they kill me. You’re talking about the American way – of survival of fittest.

–Ray Kroc

Source: Bloomsbury Business Library – Business Thinkers & Management Giants (2007)

Wow. He truly sounds like a great guy. I think we’re ready for the peer review process to begin.

I’m updating my hypothesis. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that wealthy people say all sorts of the darnedest things. Like upside-down Weebles, they have an overly-inflated sense of self and think they can’t fall down. That’s when they’re at their quotable best. (See: Sterling, Donald.) It’s almost like they get off on exposing themselves. As if to say, “See what I can do? I don’t just have all the money. I can also do this. What are you going to do about it? Ha ha ha.”

Can you find other compelling examples of what the rich say?

18 responses

  1. I’d love to find some obnoxious quotes from the Walton (Wal-Mart) family members … but … for some strange reason … Google isn’t giving me much. Hmmmmm… I guess with enough money ….


    1. If memory serves the Walton heirs are notoriously private and stingy with charities. Great idea, though! Keep digging. 🙂


  2. John Schnatter is a good candidate for assholery: “At Rocky’s, they’d sell a pizza for $10, and it cost $2 to make it. I liked that.”


    1. Oh, he’s on my list. Big time. For two reasons: Public statements he’s made and his lack of transparency regarding ingredients in his food.


      1. The more I learn about him, the less I like him!


  3. They “say” it where I live every time they tailgate me in their entitledmobiles.


    1. Speaking of which, I love it when I’m able to block a fancy car that costs hundreds of times more than my lifetime earnings with my little Ford Pinto. Good times.


      1. Look at my punctuation. Yeesh! More like drunktuation.


      2. You spend your free time going back and re-reading your old comments? That’s dedication! And yes, alcohol is definitely a benefit when visiting my neck of the woods.


  4. Greetings. First time caller. This one intrigued me. There is some data that you might find of interest. The University of Toronto and University of California at Berkeley did a study that even surprised the folks who did the study. The conclusion was folks who had more wealth showed a greater propensity to cheat at a rate ranging from 2X to 4X the rate of general society. As I recall, they conducted a series of tests such as:

    – observing who yielded the right of way correctly at intersections (the type of car driven was a proxy for wealth in this case);
    – observing who ate a cookie in a waiting room after being told they were for a kids’ meeting later;
    – observing who would correct a cashier when given more than the correct change;
    – observing who would raise an issue with a professor if given a better grade than deserved on a test; and
    – observing actions in a rigged Monopoly game where the rich person was given two dice to roll to the others’ one and twice as much money (the folks become dictatorial, but what was of interest when you gave the poor person more money in a new rigged game, they would also become dictatorial).

    The sociologists concluded that there was a sense the rules applied less to me for those with wealth. And, that small indiscretions did not matter.

    Again, the professors who conducted the study were surprised by the findings. I mention that as some would discount it and say “oh, what would you expect from a Berkeley study” as one professor noted. BTG


    1. If interested, I included a link to the news article in a post I wrote a few moons ago. Here is the post. http://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/the-psychology-of-wealth-can-make-you-less-compassionate/


      1. I recall a study that found that wealthier people tend to donate less to charity than poorer people, when viewed as a percentage of wealth. It was something like 4% for poor and 2% for wealthy. This is based on memory so details could be off. I’m pretty sure I mentioned it at the time, because why wouldn’t I? 🙂


      2. I have heard this as well, but do not know the source. It is worth a Google. I have written often about a homeless family services organization I volunteer with. One of our client’s 16 year old daughters was volunteering at a food pantry for the impoverished. The girl was homeless yet she was helping people in need. That is so powerful to me. Thanks for your writings. BTG


    2. Last night at the restaurant our server was flying solo and running around like a chicken with her head cut off. She forgot my beer on the ticket. I wrote it in for her and she said, “Thanks.” I can imagine some people in that situation saying, “Mmm, freebie!”

      Excellent comment and link. Right up my alley. You know sometimes how you have a hunch and you just know in your heart of hearts that it is true? Sometimes science laughs at that. But sometimes it works out.

      Are they rich because they have the lie, cheat and steal instinct? Or does the instinct grow with the acquisition of wealth? Chicken and egg? 🙂

      One anomaly my theory has yet to explain: The wealthy person who seems to be genuinely nice. WTF? My newest theory to explain this is something called the LCS Lateral. (Lie, Cheat, Steal.) Like always, LCS is vital to wealth acquisition. But then, upon arrival, something odd happens. The subject makes a legitimate change in their behavior. This is explained by exponential growth in ego that, in rare cases, can lead to a real change. Basically it’s the result of believing their own hype.

      With that my theory may finally be complete. 🙂


  5. Perhaps ironically, his late wife, Joan Kroc, was a generous philanthropist — especially here in San Diego. Supporting nuclear disarmament, women’s rights, education, and public broadcasting.


    1. I remember Joan Kroc quite well. Living in San Diego we heard about her all the time. It’s true she did a lot of good things with the McDonald’s wealth.

      Hey, Wikipedia. What you got?

      In 1945, she married Rawland F. Smith, a Navy veteran. The couple’s only child, a daughter named Linda, was born the following year.

      Joan met McDonald’s Corp. founder Ray Kroc while playing piano at a bar in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1957. Kroc said in his autobiography that he “was stunned by her blond beauty”. They carried on a secret relationship until they both divorced their spouses and married in 1969. Following Kroc’s death in 1984, she acquired his fortune.

      Love American Style! 🙂


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