Used to be, that in order to build a massive fortune, you had to invent something wonderful, create a large productive industry employing many thousands of workers or run a giant criminal cartel. No more. These days, great fortunes are being made by people who have invented nothing, produce nothing and build nothing. How do they make hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, then?
Simple. Get into the business of handling other people’s money, then take lots and lots of it away from them and keep it. How can this be done without getting sent to jail, you ask? Go to work on Wall Street, create crazy 3 Card Monte schemes involving billions of dollars of other people’s money, take a huge piece of the action for yourself and then grab a gigantic bonus for all the mental anguish that gambling induces. It’s all perfectly legit, too, or at least, somewhat legal.
Times change, but people don’t. There have always been among us who who were annoyed that the greatest fortunes were built up by people who did not set out to make a fortune, but instead were motivated by creating something. They burned to produce cars, aircraft, railroads, a steel industry or better computers chips. Their early lives were studies in struggle, failure and overcoming adversity. They worked endless hours perfecting their dreams and making them realities, and the goods and services their labor provided were invaluable to mankind.
When these people died they left behind not only their large fortunes, but thriving industries employing many thousands of people, transportation grids and a legacy of achievement and the continuing production of high quality products and services. When bankers and other get-rich-quick schemers die, they leave behind only their money, and bad taste in the mouth of the countless victims of their greed.
There will be no towns or high schools named after the money changers, no thriving enterprises bearing their name will continue to produce the fruit of their dreams. Few will mourn their passing and a tangle of trophy wives and children from their various marriages will fight over the money they stole. Other money changers will jockey for the position they held as Thief in Chief, while the real producers and inventors and creators of this world will continue to struggle, to perfect and to provide, and to one day reap the rewards of their innovation and dedication.
Times change, but people don’t. The vast majority of people will well remember the Wright Brothers, the Edisons, the Fords and the Gates of this world, but for the life of them won’t be able to name a single investment banker who made his fortune as a slimy racketeer in a Brooks Brothers’ suit without a drop of the styles and panache of a Capone or a Dillinger. At least those guys knew what business they were in and didn’t pretend otherwise.