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The poorer get poorer and the rich get richer

Armstrong Williams | 9/7/2011, 2:51 p.m.
At Thanksgiving, embracing the winds of change and increasing our faith

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood minorities today is not racial or ethnic. In fact, the minority I'm referring to features people of every race, color, creed and religion: the wealthy.

Make no mistake about it, building wealth is one of the most difficult things someone can do, which is why so few people do it. How few? Wealth estimates derived from 1998 federal estate tax return data show that about 6.5 million individuals in the United States had gross assets of $625,000 or more and represented about 3.4 percent of the U.S. adult population.

As a group, they owned more than $11.1 trillion in total assets or 32.6 percent of the total U.S. personal asset holdings. That's 3.4 percent of the population representing 32.6 percent of the country's wealth!

The wealthy are a true minority in the world and are often criticized and ridiculed for their success in spite of the fact that everyone, given the choice, would rather be rich than continue being poor.

I don't know where it originated, but the cliche "the poor get poorer and the rich get richer" has been in use for some time, implying that the poor will never rise out of poverty. Is this true? Why do people stay mired in poverty while others can pass on generational wealth?

The first myth that keeps people poor, in my opinion, is the myth of easy money or, more appropriately, "get rich quick" (without effort). Lotteries, gambling, hot stock tips and music videos all fuel the myth that money comes easy.

While it may be easy to make money, keeping it and building wealth is a whole different story. Industries are built around people's ignorance of building wealth. Like a miracle diet pill that lets you eat whatever you want without exercising, beware of wealth promised without effort.

Why do people continue to go to these "quick fixes"? I believe one of the reasons is a victim mentality. In other words, there is a sense that wealth is something owed to them, that by their existence wealth and ease of living is guaranteed. It is someone else's fault or something someone did to them, or a past failure that explains why they don't have what they are entitled to in life.

Another hindrance to building wealth is negative thinking. Constantly dwelling on why things won't work or why you're not deserving of success will sap anyone's confidence or motivation to perform. Another hindrance to building wealth is living beyond your means. The simplest way to build wealth is to simply live below your means and govern your finances as if you're always in a recession.

Save enough money so that you're spending last year's income instead of next year's income and you can enjoy less stress financially.

If we look at the first cause of poverty, which is basically a want of wealth without effort, better known as a wish, we can correctly guess that the first step towards building wealth is desire. Napoleon Hill describes this type of desire as a burning desire. What is that? Something you cannot live without. Something you would rather die trying to attain than to live without.