Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Filthy Rich


Thaddeus came up with an interesting question the other day. What does it mean to be rich (in a financial way)?

It's All Relative
We were discussing a friend of ours who I consider to be rich, but Thaddeus didn't.

I'm not sure how I made my evaluation. Mostly on the friend's house and belongings and social activity, such as the kinds of stores they shopped at and the restaurants they went to. Thaddeus thought that one aspect of being rich meant you didn't have to work, and our friend works.

When I reminded Thaddeus of a party we went to once at a gay couple's house, where we both considered the couple to be rich, and that both the partner's worked, it made it even more difficult to pin it all down.

Is being rich just a comparative tool folks use to discuss other people that have more money than them? Would anyone actually call themselves rich? Is there a specific net worth that must be achieved that changes with the economy to be considered technically rich...something like a "rich index"?

Current Knitting/Crocheting
I've done pathetically little. I added one star to the tablecloth and I'm almost halfway done the second Trekking sock.



I considered modifying the Andersson heel a little bit, but then figured I'd have two mismatched socks. While it might not be visibly different, it would probably feel a little different. I'll just make the adjustment on my next pair.

I think I'll also do a cuff-down version of Colin's heel on my next pair of socks.

Current Spinning
After finishing up on the alpaca fleece, I decided to get myself back to the Corriedale roving I started working on way back in like June.



You'll note I have a nice thick fluffy bobbin full of singles. I still have a rather full box of the roving, so this spinning project should keep me busy for quite a while.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Judi asks, "Have you ever tried Mary Ann Beattie's Crazy Toes and Heels?"

No, but I have to admit, the Andersson heel takes very little thought once you understand how it works. The one thing that looks intriguing about Mary Ann's toe and heel is that they're rounded, which looks very appealing.

27 comments:

Evelyn said...

To me, rich would be if you could say to your mate, Let's go to Paris for a week, and not have to think about the expense.

But I agree that it's hard to pin "rich" (or "well-off" or "comfortable" or whatever euphemism you please.) I am always amazed at the thought of how much money it would take to be rich. I mean, an expensive house costs a lot of money, but then you also need expensive furniture, and someone to clean it, and you need an expensive car, and you need expensive clothes, and expensive shoes, and on and on. It seems like more trouble than its worth to little old middle-class me!

Anonymous said...

Dont remember the guy who said this but as I recall, the definition of rich is being able to live off the dividends on your dividends.

Donna in VA said...

And then there is the person who lives incredibly modestly and dies and leaves millions to some charitable or educational organization and no one knew how rich the person was.

Kate said...

I grew up in a blue collar family in Europe; my husband grew up middle class in the US. We each have college degrees, well paying jobs in a large city, and substantial equity in the house we own. We take several vacations a year, and eat out a couple times each week. To me, this is rich beyond my wildest dreams. To him, it's middle class. I don't think there's a universal definition.

Elizabeth said...

I'm sure there are "working rich", just as there are "working poor".

Studies show that across most income levels, people tend to say that they would be happy if they earned just a little more. That's sad, isn't it?

Shunra said...

I think what makes a person rich - or not rich - is their self-perception of wealth or absence of wealth, and of choice or absence of choice: if a person feels they've GOT to work and would rather not, no amount of money will make them feel really rich, I think.

In terms of my own perception, I used to be an impoverished single mom. Thus, as long as I have a roof reliably over my head and I don't *have* to comparison shop for basic ingredients, I feel rich. When I've got enough money put away to live off the proceeds even if I never work another, I'll *be* rich. But I can't imagine not working - I love my work.

Kathryn said...

In comparison to most of the members of my husband's family, we're "of modest means".

Compared to most of my family, we're average.

In the eyes of many of the people in our city, because we wear thrift-store clothing and I drive a $500 car which is almost as old as I am, we're dirt-fucking-poor.

And compared to about 90% of the world's population, we're astoundingly wealthy, because we have a solid roof over our heads, nutritious food to eat and clean water to drink, and lovely thrift stores with all sorts of merchandise to buy, and a car that runs and gas to put in it...

Screw the comparisons. I have a man who loves me, family and friends who love me, shelter from the elements, decent creature comforts, a brain and two hands that work quite well. I'm rich beyond measure.

angie Cox said...

Oh that is a difficult one .I don't think I'd consider anyone rich if they worked .That rules out many rich people who would prefer to however much money they have. I havn't worked since I had my daughter and some people might consider us poor as we don't own a car , don't have holidays . The tour of Italy with Jane Thornley is the only temptation I feel I'd have enjoyed but I could go to work. I prefer to be "poor" and have time to knit and knit and paint . I am happy with our very small home but hate the neighbourhood . I'd love to be rich ( very rich) because I'd find so many causes . I don't think I'd be able to mix with the British rich and feel comfortable. On radio today a Malawian poet talked about the madness of the monument Hastings Banda had built as a shrine when so many people are in the most dire poverty. I then watched Q.V.C ( that is almost a guilty pleasure except that is never a pleasure but an amusing diversion. ). Today it was the very naff "Jackie O" collection ....just one bracelet given to her by Haile Salasie made me wonder how these people block out the hunger and deprivation and sleep at night. Obviously the Q.V.C articles are just cheap versions but even to imitate her seems to accept such gross and indecent wealth.

Deborah C. said...

I think the definition of being "rich" is never having to consider the price of an item, or whether one can afford to buy something. Like Evelyn said, being able to just go to London on a whim because I felt like it, and not consider the cost would mean I was "rich." Working isn't a measure of being rich for me, many people work even though they are rich - look at Donald Trump.

Kristi said...

That Beattie book will make your head explode (it's an unedited mess), but it does contain the best short row heel I've ever seen. The book was written to feature another heel, but the directions buried in the back for a basic short row "no wrap, no gap" heel resulted in my new favorite heel. There are absolutely no holes in the fabric and the stitch line is very flat and quiet.

I've tried several other popular short row heels (in all the usual books) and some of them look great, but Beattie's method is the best looking, imo.

Andy's Crafts said...

If I live in the arid desert I need water. If you live in an Oasis in the desert you are rich!

If you have an extra pair of old shoes you may be rich to someone who can hardly afford to buy one. Rich is a matter of perspective.

Rich people may work or may not work, but they have lots of choices which money brings, they can be healthy or sickly, Look at Mister Burns from the Simpsons! Excellent!

Liked the sock yarn.

Ryan said...

I'm not too sure about the rich and working/not working definition. Since I live in Seattle, I'm constantly reminded of the "richness" of Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world. But even he continues to work when, Lord knows, he of all people doesn't have to.

Many stars and celebrities do the same thing; they have more money then God, yet they still feel the need to make movies and go on concert tours and so on. Perhaps the question isn't so much the definition of "rich" as the definition of "work."

Sheila Z said...

To me having the basics met (shelter, food, transportation, health care) without losing sleep as to how you are going to pay for everything is being rich. Being able to afford the luxury of finding work that a person loves is also something that can limited if you don't have the funds. Rich is the person that can leave an unhappy work environment without fear of financial ruin.

I can't imagine not working, even if the work were volunteer work. Rich or dirt poor, I'd have to be doing something.

Anonymous said...

Joe,
I heard a good description of rich vs. wealthy a while back.

Rich is when you make enough money to not worry much about bills, but worry lots about investments and brokers.

Wealthy is what you call the people who sign the Rich people's paychecks and manage their investments.

kmbr

Ann (yet another) said...

Oddly enough, there are various indexes of "richness." There is a wealth index that evaluates the general wealth of a country (and no, the US is not the top ranking country although it's pretty high up there). There is an index of income inequality (I'm a big fan of the Pareto index, which posits political instability due to economic inequality). And there is an index (whose name is escaping me but it's a World Bank thing) that tries to take into account situations where income isn't valued in a monetary fashion.

But, again, wealth must be distinguished from income. Income is $ coming in from wages, earnings, dividends, whatever. Wealth is all assets. So, you can be land rich and income poor (think the poor farmer sitting on a valuable piece of property). You can be income rich and asset poor (think negative cash flow).

But normally, we who fool around with economic statistics look at income distributions.

If you happen to be in the top 1% of wealth in the US, trust me, you are rich. The top 1% holds something like 30-ish% of the wealth of the US. You are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban, etc. When your net worth is more than the GNP of many countries, you are freaking rich.

I know a few fairly wealthy people. Most are rich by virtue of their own labors or through managing nicely the fruits of their parent's labors. They are wealthy enough that they do what the hell they want instead of what they HAVE to do to put food on the table. So, a guy who builds canoes and other hand made wooden craft. A guy who became a botanist and studies wildflowers. A doctor who became a truckdriver.

Ignoring statistics and all that, frankly that is how I'd define rich - having enough money or assets to live comfortably while doing whatever the hell you really want. "Comfortably" defined as whatever that person thinks of as comfortable.

Meribeth said...

If looking at the Forbes list..if you don't have 1 Billion (net) you don't hit the top 40.
I live in an "upscale" area. grew up around us, not our choice) I can assure you that the Jags, Hummers, 5+ bedroom homes are smoke and mirrors. Credit, Baby! And with the real estate issues, there are a lot of homes for sale, suddenly. No these people may Act rich, but they are not..they are Stupid.
In high school, I dated a guy who drove a wreck, worked a part time job, dressed in everyday clothes, went to the local high school. After a month of dating we went to his house. The guy was rich..seriously rich..one of the bigger names rich. You would never have known it...and the family did not brag, flaunt or act the part either.
There is being Rich in $$ and Rich in Spirit. Many times the spirit is traded for the $. I would rather be everyday. Just being myself, not having to prove anything, not having to be nice or entertain in my home business or socially connected people. Gag! I would not want the responsibility, nor the garbage that comes from being truly rich.
Lottery? You bet! I would buy lots of land and refuse development of any kind. Leave it for the wild living things. Now that would be Rich.
Bill Moyers has a very interesting and enlightening pod cast about the rich/powerful. An interview with Bogel, the head of Vanguard, if you are interested.
/www.pbs.org/moyers/podcast.xml

marie in florida said...

i'm so happy to see someone crocheting the beautiful Queen Anne's Lace. it's basic and simple and elegant.

Dutch Jan said...

Rich in money is very Poor when you don't have a "rich life" which means for me: all the wonderfull experiences I have had in the past and still have with very special people I got in contact with in various countries I went. They are not rich in money but have given me a lot more which is better than money.

Sherry W said...

There are certainly working rich (Trump, Gates, Oprah). I think to qualify as working rich, you have to have your name on the door, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

"The Millionary Next Door" is a great book about real wealth and "looking rich" For example a lock smith makes a good hourly wage and has no pressure to show his weatlh. A lawyer makes a better hourly wage, but is underconstant pressure to show his wealth, nice car, nicer office, great house and fanastic school for the kids may mean that he's one paycheck away from "poor". Who would you want to be. Me, I'd be the lock smith. My husband and I each make about 20k before taxes and I feel we are just barely keeping our heads above water, but we want for nothing, really. I "want" lots, but our basic needs our met. My brother, who has been corputed by his wife, feels that he (she's a housewife) needs to make 250k to have anything. I'm amazed by stories of people trying to get out of debt who make 200K or more a year. But, no matter how much you make, there is pressure to make more, I mean, if you make 250K you'll want to live like you're really making twice that, and so on. There comes a point when you have much more than you need, and that's when you should give back to the community. Thank you Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation.
I feel too rich to be poor, and quailfy for any government programs, but to poor to buy steak more than twice a month.
And then... what you spend your money on,... that's a whole nother can of worms, i.e. see all the rims in the low-income part of town, any town.

Seanna Lea said...

Maybe I'm too much of a realist, but I consider someone rich when they consistently go out to eat at better than average restaurants (where the average cost for a meal for 2 is 40$ or more), and do so on a frequent regular basis. This is confirmed if they shop or consider shopping at more upscale places.

The offshoot of that is nearly everyone I know how feels "rich" to me don't have hobbies. As such all of the money I spend on my hobbies is money they instead spend on clothing, restaurant food, and other luxuries. The priorities in life are completely different, which causes this disconnect in how we perceive each other's quality of life and monetary value.

Michelene said...

What is rich?
Being able to send your kids to any college they want to attend without needing scholarships.

Having your own bathroom that no other soul can enter other than the maid--or Jared or Jensen to massage your feet and give you a pedicure(see guily pleasures comment from last post)

Owning my own scuba equipment and being able to pop off to Austrailia for a month.

Betsy said...

Financially rich to me means having the CHOICE to work or not for the rest of your life...

But that's not rich...real live honest to goodness rich...that deep emotional satisfaction with all (or most) aspects of your life.

By George said...

I am making my first pair of socks.. well on my first sock and it's HUGE.

I wisely made it red and green so that if (lol... when) it's too big, I can use it for a Christmas stocking.
*shrug*

Anonymous said...

Hi, Joe.... I feel rich. My children have all finished college and the weddings are paid for, our house (in expensive northern NJ is paid off and so is our car. I was able to retire at 58 from a job I no longer loved, while my husband (62) still works at a job he loves. I think that's my definition of rich: not how much money there is, but how much security there is. Knowing that I could afford to stay home when my kids were little (and we were really financially poor then) made me feel rich, because I could afford to make that choice.

My husband says we have enough money to buy ANYTHING we want, but not enough to buy EVERYTHING we want, so we still make choices.... but I feel rich.

Thanks for the interesting question!

Barbara M.

Pam the Yarn Goddess said...

I think rich is a relative term. You can be monetarily rich, but morally bankrupt. You can be spiritually rich, but poor as the proverbial churchmouse. To me, rich is how I live my life and what blessings I have in it. I'm a Pagan, so blessings to me are a bit different than my Christian counterparts' might be. Rain is rich. Blazing sunsets are rich. Sitting on the beach and watching said sunset is rich. Having my family with me is rich. Of course, the monetary rich is a good thing, too, but one can have too much money (don't ask - I've been there, and it's really not the best of places).

As for Mary Ann Beattie's book, I taught myself to knit socks using it. It's my preferred method of knitting socks, although I'll use DPN's if I have to. She has two different toes and several options, such as afterthought heels and toes. What I love about her method is that the socks fit you like a second skin. It's also very simple. Cat Bordhi's book just confused me, so I was thrilled to fine Mary Ann's. The only thing you have to be careful of is that she says the same thing ten different ways. I teach socks using her method, so I have my students read the text and highlight the portions that they understand. I realize she has to do this in order to reach as many people as possible, but a lot of extraneous writing makes it difficult for some people. She's also very heavy on pictures (she's for the visual learner), so as to make it easy for someone to teach themselves.

Patti said...

My own definition of rich is if you have more than you need to be content. Everyone's different. For instance, I have two teenage sons. Both have the same living circumstances and about the same income from part time jobs. Only one is rich - his needs are less than his brother's. The other considers himself to be struggling financially because he never has enough money for what he feels he needs.