There are a lot of ways to get rich, and this article is about only one of them. This article is about how to make money by creating wealth and getting paid for it.
There are plenty of other ways to get money, including chance, speculation, marriage, inheritance, theft, extortion, fraud, monopoly, counterfeiting, and prospecting. Most of the greatest fortunes have probably involved several of these.
The advantage of creating wealth, as a way to get rich, is not just that it’s more legitimate (many of the other methods are now illegal) but that it’s more straightforward. You just have to do something people want.
Money Is Not Wealth
If you want to create wealth, it will help to understand what it is. Wealth is not the same thing as money. Wealth is as old as human history. Far older, in fact; ants have wealth. Money is a comparatively recent invention.
Wealth is the fundamental thing. Wealth is stuff we want: food, clothes, houses, cars, gadgets, travel to interesting places, and so on. You can have wealth without having money. If you had a magic machine that could on command make you a car or cook you dinner or do your laundry, or do anything else you wanted, you wouldn’t need money. Whereas if you were in the middle of Antarctica, where there is nothing to buy, it wouldn’t matter how much money you had.
Wealth is what you want, not money. But if wealth is the important thing, why does everyone talk about making money? It is a kind of shorthand: money is a way of moving wealth, and in practice they are usually interchangeable. But they are not the same thing, and unless you plan to get rich by counterfeiting, talking about making money can make it harder to understand how to make money.
Money is a side effect of specialization. In a specialized society, most of the things you need, you can’t make for yourself. If you want a potato or a pencil or a place to live, you have to get it from someone else.
How do you get the person who grows the potatoes to give you some? By giving him something he wants in return. But you can’t get very far by trading things directly with the people who need them. If you make
violins, and none of the local farmers wants one, how will you eat?
Everyone in a company works together to create wealth, in the sense of making more things people want. Many of the employees (e.g. the people in the mailroom or the personnel department) work at one remove from the actual making of stuff.
How it Works
Taking for example; John Smith finishes school he is expected to get a job. And what getting a job seems to mean is joining another institution. Superficially it’s a lot like college.
You pick the companies you want to work for and apply to join them. If one likes you, you become a member of this new group. You get up in the morning and go to a new set of buildings, and do things that you do not, ordinarily, enjoy doing. There are a few differences: life is not as much fun, and you get paid, instead of paying, as you did in college. But the similarities feel greater than the differences.
John Smith is now John Smith, 22, a software developer at such and such corporation.
In fact John Smith’s life has changed more than he realizes. Socially, a company looks much like college, but the deeper you go into the underlying reality, the more different it gets.
What a company does, and has to do if it wants to continue to exist, is earn money. And the way most companies make money is by creating wealth.
Someone graduating from college thinks, and is told, that he needs to get a job, as if the important thing were becoming a member of an institution.
A more direct way to put it would be: you need to start doing something people want. You don’t need to join a company to do that. All a company is, is a group of people working together to do something people want. It’s doing something people want that matters, not joining the group.
For most people the best plan probably is to go to work for some existing company. But it is a good idea to understand what’s happening when you do this. A job means doing something people want, averaged together with everyone else in that company. Which means do you want to use to create your wealth? Your thoughts are welcome.
You can drop it on the comment box.