Some people are so poor all they have is money

Some people are so poor all they have is money - a quote some attribute to Bob Marley

Some people are so poor all they have is money is a quote attributed to Patrick Meagher as well as Bob Marley. It’s always difficult to know who the original author of a quote was, and probably doesn’t matter. It’s certainly the kind of thing Marley would have said. The below transcript is from an interview where his views on money are made clear.

Interviewer: are you a rich man?
Marley: what do you mean, rich?
Interviewer: you have a lot of possessions?
Marley: a lot of money in the bank? – possessions make you rich?
Marley: I don’t know that type of richness, my richness is life

Coco Chanel made a similar remark when she said “There are people who have money and there are people who are rich“. I see Marley’s (assuming it was him) quote of “Some people are so poor all they have is money” as an inverted, more conciseness version of Chanel’s.

It probably doesn’t need explaining, however, this quote relies on poor being viewed holistically and not simply in the context of money. It’s an observation of people who have nothing but money, those that only care and think about their bank balance.

Marilyn Monroe

“I’m generally miserable”
Marilyn Monroe

Going from Marley to Monroe: despite her wealth and fame, Marilyn Monroe let it be known in a rare interview that on the whole, she felt miserable.

“Do I feel happy in life?
let’s see …let’s say I hope I’m finding happiness
if I can realise certain things in my work
I come the closest to being happy
and I can say that also about my life
well it only happens I think in moments
sometimes when I’m working
and I’ll be able to fulfil a scene truthfully
and then I think I’m the happiest,
well I find it very stimulating to keep
studying and working but I’m not just generally happy
if I’m generally anything, I guess I’m generally miserable”

The misconception that fame and fortune bring happiness wasn’t only commented on by Marilyn Monroe, Bob Marley and Coco Chanel. Many celebrities alive today have said the same thing.

Unhappy celebrities

Jennifer Lawrence, Russell Brand, Justin Bieber, Matthew McConaughey, and others on how riches and fame didn’t bring happiness.

More money = more work

“building wealth to them [rich people] is a creative process, and the closest thing they have to fun”

Robert Frank (economist)

As is described by The Atlantic in The Free-Time Paradox, in the last generation, the rich have significantly reduced their leisure time, more than any other demographic. Previous futurists had predicted more leisure time for wealthy workers but the opposite has happened. It’s those with less that have benefited. In part, this can be attributed to the status gained from being perpetually busy.

The rich are more isolated + stingier

The physiologist and researcher, Patricia Greenfield tracked several families over four decades, many of which began poor but some grew wealthier. Greenfield noticed that the families that gained wealth also became more isolated as they became more individualistic.

With the accumulation of resources, we need to rely on others less. Greenfield summarised the effects of money by saying “We become more individualistic, less family and community-oriented.”

Dacher Keltner a professor of psychology has studied how the rich are less giving than the poor which he goes on to explain in this NPR interview.

“As we rise in wealth, along with that rise in wealth comes ideas of individuality and self-expression and autonomy and freedom — and loneliness”

Dacher Keltner (professor of psychology)

Money buys pleasure, not happiness

As is mentioned in the YouTube clip above by the social media influencer Dan Bilzerian. Money can buy pleasure: possessions, sex and drugs but not happiness. Happiness and pleasure are often confused as the same thing which is why having unlimited money is not going to bring unlimited happiness.

Let’s face it, money is boring

If there’s one surefire way of being disliked, it’s to talk about money all the time. Especially when you’re talking about your own money. It’s tedious. What’s the point in having all this money if you don’t have any interests other than money?

Being obsessed with money probably does help in accumulating more though. Just as an athlete or musician dedicates much of their life to their craft so do many of the mega wealthy. The problem with obsessing over money is that it’s an extrinsic goal that will leave you feeling empty. Or as Marley puts it, it will leave you feeling poor.


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