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.
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?
There I was, a young pre-guru lad, still in my sensitive formative years, sitting on grandma’s porch out on the Taker homestead. Aw, shucks, I may even have been chewing on some amber stalks of grain.
The neighbor came over and started talking to my grandma. I was just a youngin’ so I didn’t pay no mind to their adult conversation.
Until… suddenly, the neighbor just dropped the N-word!
I sucked in my breath. Holy shit, I thought, someone is in for it now. I got the hell out of Dodge to make way for the can of whoop ass I knew my grandma was about to open.
Except… that didn’t happened. Grandma didn’t use the word herself, but she as hell didn’t kick that fucker in the nards, either. In fact, she acted like nothing happened at all.
Although I was young, I’ve never forgotten that moment. It is still vivid in my mind. I learned an important lesson that day. I guess it’s hard to forget certain moments frozen in time like when you got your heart broke. It was all part of my Intro 101 to this planet, I guess.
Fast-forward to present day where I’m, obviously, a seasoned traveler and enlightened guru in this game called life. Shit like that no longer surprises me.
What the fuck? Cliven Bundy just said what? Double dribble? Come again? The owner of an NBA basketball team just said what?
I guess I’m not as enlightened as I thought. I still can be surprised.
And, like always, this got me to thinking…
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When I meet someone, who knows what they might believe? In all likelihood they believe in God. (In this country I’d say about a 70 to 80 percent chance.) There’s at least a fifty fifty shot their political party affiliation is different than my own. There’s a high probability they believe in at least one idea that I’d consider wonky. (Bigfoot? Probed by aliens? Michele Bachmann is human? Sarah Palin is a decent hunter because she uses a helicopter?) If you think of the political spectrum as a grid, the odds drop even lower, perhaps 1/16th, that we are in the same general neighborhood.
I don’t worry about any of that stuff. I base my opinion of a person on things like how they act, what they say, if there are nice, sound pleasant and reasonable, rub me the right way, etc.
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Tom’s Law #42
As a devout [insert religion here], whenever possible, I only do business with other [insert religion here]. That way, when things inevitably go to shit, I can viciously write about them on my public [insert religion here] blog and foment animosity and dissent within the entire congregation. Verily, I say unto you, halleluja!
–When [insert religion here] Attack, by Tom B. Taker
Let’s leave the specific religion out of it, too. I pledge not to go sectarian on their asses even when they deserve it.
So, this guy I know is quite the character. As someone who has suffered in his vicinity (we all have our crosses to bear) I do get the odd thrill of delight when someone meets him for the first time. I get to feel validated and vindicated in my feelings as my various hypotheses about him are confirmed by the newcomer going through the same process I did.
That’s when I realized there are actual laws at work that govern this reactionary process. I have dubbed this theory The Five Stages of Beef. It’s what happens when a person meets someone of humanoid condition Type A. Of course, we all know that the “A” stands for Asshole.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. When you meet this particular guy you are on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride of the Senses. As you meet him for the first time you’re in for a wallop.
Visually eclectic, he has the disheveled pointing-straight-up hair of three-year-old who just rolled out of bed. Your nose, however, will simultaneously pick up on the fact that he didn’t shower before putting on disheveled, dirty and wrinkled clothes. He’s also a man who also clings to fiercely held personal beliefs like anti-bacterial handsoap is stupid and deodorant is a marketing scheme. He’s not afraid to put those beliefs into action, either. You’ll get your smell-based verification of this as his body odor envelopes you.
This is when denial kicks in. Is this guy for real? Naw. It can’t be. This can’t be happening. Not to me.
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WIDGET-424242 Premium has the wrong color listed.
It should be “Brown”
Please correct both color attributes and the name.
Note the subtle capitalization and punctuation errors. Like a boss!
I should be used to this by now. But still I sat there, stunned, staring at his email on my screen. He could have sent a shorter email. “Widget 424242 wrong color. Thanks.” But he didn’t.
I thought about hitting “reply” and asking a simple question: “Will there ever come a day when you don’t feel the need to include that extraneous sentence at the end?” I heard it can be beneficial to dream. Well, I have my dreams, too.
He went ahead and listed the correct color, even though I could have figured that out on my own. Maybe we can give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was just trying to be helpful. He saved me the bother of having to look it up in the catalog.
But WTF is up with that next sentence? He just told me the color was “wrong.” I know what that means. It has to be fixed. If I really strained my brain cells enough I might even be able to extrapolate, like an Eistein smartypants, what should happen next. We have to correct the wrong information on the website! Am I right, am I right, Alex Trebec? What do I win?
Luckily, though, the boss is ever vigilant and at the ready to provide more than enough information. Apparently he thinks we’re so damn stupid we won’t know to wipe our own asses unless he’s there to point out the obvious. “And use toilet paper next time!” That might also explain why he walks into occupied bathrooms without the courtesy of knocking first. It’s because he’s so damn smarter than us idiots. No doubt that’s why he hired us.
“You going to send that letter in the mail? You’ll have to put on a postage stamp. The post office won’t deliver it without one.” Are you fucking shitting me? (And, for the record, I’m not making this up. This is an actual verbatim from the boss to me.)
I can’t help but wonder. What if the boss was in charge of other stuff? What would that look like?
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