Walter White of “Breaking Bad” amasses millions of dollars before the conclusion of the TV show. He is also greedy, prideful, arrogant and cruel enough to commit murder. Jordan Belfort makes millions in “The Wolf of Wall Street” by cheating people out of their money through insider stock trading. He too is greedy and arrogant, not to mention a womanizer and drug addict who puts the average American’s materialism to shame.
These are just two prime examples of how the media (run by rich people) would have you believe that it is bad to be rich. If you are rich, you are greedy and you likely cheated your way to the top, right? Those rich jerks are screwing everyone else over, right?
Sorry, but I find this stereotype ridiculous. Being a college student, I am nowhere near the realm of being defined as “rich,” but the notion that being rich is a bad thing is something that I feel has been hardwired into my head, almost as if the world encourages me to be poor. The media would have me believe that only poor people are kind and giving. Dirt-poor Ron Weasley in “Harry Potter” is kind and befriends Harry; snobby rich-boy Draco Malfoy, meanwhile, shuns Harry and is the wizard-equivalent of a racist.
And yet we go to college to be successful, to make something of ourselves. If we are told it is bad to be rich, though, will we end up being rich? I find it unlikely. If I believe being rich is bad, I probably won’t want to be rich myself (not really, anyway).
So with the mix of media spin on being rich and our college debt convincing us that it sucks to be poor, what is the world really priming us to be?
Now make no mistake: there is nothing wrong with being in the lower or middle class. I have met plenty of nice people who would be defined as such. But just like it would be ridiculous to declare that all poor people steal, it’s ridiculous to declare that all rich people are bad. In fact, some of the wealthiest people I know are the most giving, kind people I’ve ever met.
Therefore, I propose to the college-educated Collegian readership a theory: there are good and bad people in every class, and wanting to be rich and being greedy are not necessarily the same. There are perfectly good reasons to want to be rich that have nothing to do with greed.
I, for one, do not want to be rich so I can buy things. I want to be rich so I can order a meal and not be afraid for my bank account. I want to be rich so if I have a disease or am seriously injured, I will not end up homeless. I want to be rich so if I get married, I can support my family when times are tough. I want to be rich so if I have children, they will not be afraid of going to college when they hear how much debt it will put them in.
I want to be rich because I do not want to live in fear.
Collegian Columnist Dan Rice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @danriceman.