Flowing from these definitions, who can be defined as truly rich or wealthy?
Is someone truly rich and wealthy when he/she has a lot of money and possessions, earned from either hard work and/or talent, or is someone rich if he/she comes from a rich family; when you were born with the proverbial golden spoon in the mouth because your parents, grandparents and great grandparents were rich, or because they had the ‘right’ surname (think Windsor…).
The Collins English Dictionary defines ‘rich’ and wealth’ as follows:
Rich – well supplied with wealth, property, etc.; owning much
Wealth – a large amount of money and valuable material possessions; the state of being rich; all goods and services with monetary, exchangeable or productive value.
Not all rags to riches stories end in true and lifelong happiness and while money can buy a comfortable lifestyle, it doesn’t buy love or guarantee happiness in life, as suggested already in the 16th century in William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice (written in 1596), when potential suitors to the beautiful (and rich!) Portia were set a challenge (pick the right casket to marry the girl) to see if they were merely interested in her for her wealth or whether they were ‘pure in thought and word and deed’ – to quote from a song of British pop group The Pet Shop Boys.
Shakespeare warned that appearances are often deceiving and that human desire (for wealth, sex, etc.) can be a dangerous thing; not everything that is shiny and superficially attractive is valuable:
“… All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life has sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold
Had you been as wise as bold,
Your in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been in'scroll'd
Fare you well: your suit is cold.' Cold, indeed, and labour lost: Then, farewell, heat and welcome, frost! ...”
Very often, the lines between extreme wealth and crime and corruption are blurred and many extremely wealthy ‘businessmen’ earn their high income from crime, corruption and exploiting others. Involvement in crime and corruption also ‘runs in the family’ in many of these instances, where a family history of involvement in such activities often sets the scene for children of such families to pick up where other family members have left off and continue these bad practices.
Arnold “The Brain” Rothstein
An example of the proverbial sins of the fathers being visited on the next generation is the late Arnold “The Brain” Rothstein, the son of a wealthy Jewish immigrant racketeer and businessman who already as a child became involved in gambling and went on to become the kingpin of the Jewish mob in New York.
While Arnold was skilled in mathematics, well-read and groomed to take over his father’s by then legitimate business practices (his father, Abraham, became a philanthropist after deciding not to continue with his illegitimate business practices) he dropped out of school and got involved in illegitimate business deals with some his father’s connections from his early days as a shady businessman.
He was the first person to spot the business opportunity presented by prohibition and to use it to smuggle liquor into New York along the Hudson River and across the Great Lake from Canada. During the prohibition, he also became involved in narcotics. He is said to have transformed organised crime into a big business, which he ran like a large corporation with himself at the helm.
He was widely implicated in the so-called ‘Black Sox Scandal’ of 1919, reportedly conspiring in ‘fixing’ the 1919 World Series as part of his involvement in corruption in professional athletics. However, in later years he could not successfully be linked to this scandal, possibly also because all records and minutes of the Grand Jury and relating to the case mysteriously disappeared.
He continued gambling, thriving on the excitement and despite being scolded many times by his father not to do so. In an interview in 1921, he said that he couldn’t remember a time that he didn’t gamble, as he’s always gambled; when he gambled nothing else mattered, he said. His gambling habit led to his death in 1928 when he was murdered after failing to pay a large debt that resulted from a ‘fixed’ poker game. 10 years after his death, his brother declared the estate of the man with nicknames such as “Mr Big”, “The Fixer”, “The Man Uptown” and “The Big Bankroll” bankrupt…
Tim “Sharky” Ward
Tim “Sharky” Ward spent his childhood in pool halls hustling for money at tables, earning him the nickname of ‘Sharky’ already at an early age.
Today, this self-admitted gangster and mafia character lives in Pattaya, Thailand. Since his stay there in 2009, he has become an iconic character in Thailand, but once ruled the Australian Gold Coast as a loan shark. In so doing he earned himself the nickname ‘The Gold Coast King’. His loans answered the call of those in dire financial straits, very often was the result of drug addiction. As a result, the loans often ‘helped’ these addicts sustain their drug habits. Even the drug dealers themselves, it is speculated, were often assisted with a loan from Tim “Sharky” Ward. The interest rates on Tim’s loans (from 156% to 208% per year and up to 360% for late payments) got him into trouble with Australian authorities; his loan practices did not comply with Australian loans providers law. His non-compliance saw him paying a hefty $270 000 penalty.
Before his assets were seized in a court case, he was well known for leading a flashy lifestyle, even owning three Lamborghini’s at one stage. While he now calls Thailand home, he reportedly still owns property and a few nightclubs in Australia. It is speculated that he remains involved in the Australian underworld and maintains strong connections with well-known Mafia figures ‘down under’.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. – some good news
There are a few stories that have an element of good news in it, where a bad family history led to success from hard work and talent rather than becoming a victim of such adverse family circumstances. An example of this is American boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose mother and aunt were both drug addicts (his aunt died of AIDS, which Floyd says was the result of her drug addiction) and his father was jailed for selling drugs. This undefeated five-division world boxing champion has – despite some financial woes – largely managed to triumph over his family circumstances to become the highest paid athlete in the world. His net worth is estimated to be $280 million (2014).
Floyd was born into a family of boxers – his father and two uncles were all boxers. His father is Floyd Mayweather Sr., American boxing trainer (also of his son, Floyd Mayweather Jr.) and welterweight contender in the 1970s and 1980s and known as a flamboyant dresser; he wears colourful suits, ties and shoes to news conferences. This ‘poet laureate of boxing’, as he is often called, is also known for reciting poetry about his opponents (or as a trainer, about his fighters’ opponents) and for being very outspoken.
Boxing was such an integral part of the life of Floyd Mayweather Jr. since his childhood and it is said that as a result, he never really seriously considered any other profession. As a youngster in New Jersey he stayed with his drug addict mother and aunt and six other people in a one-bedroom house, often going days without electricity. While his father was his trainer for a long time before his uncle took over, Floyd says he doesn’t remember going on enjoyable father-son outings, such as going to the movies or buying an ice-cream, with his father, whom he remembers only as the one taking him to the gym to train and work on his boxing.
While he is wealthy, Floyd is not financially stable, says the TheRichest.com website. He apparently owes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) $1.6 million in arrear taxes and was reportedly sued by a real estate agent in Florida, USA for owing $1.7 million as a first instalment on a house; Floyd apparently backed out of the $8.5 million house purchase. At one time, jewellery to the value of $7.4 million was reportedly stolen from his house and in 2009, Floyd reportedly borrowed $415 000 at an annual interest of 16% to pay for a car, a Mercedes Maybach 57S ($528 000). For more than a year after the purchase, he did not make the required monthly payment of $9 000, leading to him being sued.
As so often happens and as suggested with the reference to Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice in the beginning of the article, it is quite difficult for a wealthy man to know who his true friends are; it is difficult to judge if they like him because of him, or whether they like him because he is a rich celebrity. That Floyd’s good friend rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) was a fair weather friend became very apparent when he publicly accused Floyd of not being able to read. Seen against the background of illiteracy that persists in this leading world economy this could have tarnished his reputation, especially among his many young fans and supporters who look up to him as a successful boxer. Fortunately, the potential damage of 50 Cent’s remark was extinguished fairly quickly with it being confirmed that Floyd can read ‘perfectly fine’.
“When people see what I have now, they have no idea of where I came from and how I didn’t have anything growing up… People don’t know the hell I’ve been through…”— Floyd Mayweather Jr
The fact that he hasn’t forgotten the difficulties of his early years is often given as one of the reasons for Floyd’s amazing success. It is said that while he lives in luxury, he remembers the hard times as much as he enjoys the good times.
Also on http://sports.yahoo.com it is said that the odds of an impoverished person making it and becoming fabulously wealthy are overwhelming. It continues: “Most, even those with superior athletic gifts, don’t come close… He used his sorry past to fuel his success. Not many can do that, but not many are Floyd Mayweather either…”
The Illuminati’s ‘meritocracy’ and New World Order
While many a secret organisation has been called The Illuminati, the original and only true Illuminati is the Bavarian Illumniati, an Enlightenment-era secret society that was founded in 1776. Among its goals were to oppose superstition, obsuratism, religious influence over public life and absuses of state power. Although outlawed on a number of occasions, many conservative and religious critics claimed that the organisation, the topic of many conspiracy theories, continued underground and were inter alia responsible for the French Revolution.
Membership of the original organisation when it was formed in 1776, was open to Christians of good character, while Jews and Pagans were specifically excluded together with women, monks and members of other secret societies. In the early days of the organisation, it is said that it favoured members who were rich, docile, willing to learn and aged 18 to 30 years. As official symbol the Bavarian Illuminati chose the ‘Owl of Minerva’, which represents wisdom and the ability to see in the dark.
In today’s modern society, it is difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. This is also true when speculating about whether or not a highly secret organisation such as the Illuminati can or does still exist in today’s world, which is increasingly becoming an open, global village also as a result of technological advances such as computers, the Internet, smart phones and social media platforms. In an interview with one of the members of the Ruling Council of the Illuminati, published on www.wisdom-square.com, the 12 members of the Ruling Council is reported to have wealth in the form of priceless treasures rather than ‘liquid’ money. Money simply funds their mission, it is said in the interview, as the Ruling Council members “are not worshippers of Mammon”.
According to the website www.bibliotecapleyades.net the Illuminati – present throughout North America - practices a form of faith known as "enlightenment". This is Luciferian; their roots go back to the ancient mystery religions of Babylon, Egypt, and Celtic druidism. The faith that they teach their followers is what they consider to be the "best" of each of the above; the foundational practices joined together into a strongly occult discipline. Many local level groups of the Illuminati is said to worship ancient deities such as "El", "Baal", and "Ashtarte", as well as "Isis and Osiris" and "Set". This has resulted in the Illuminati being linked to Satanism.
On the same website, it is said that the Illuminati believes in controlling an area through its:
- Banks and financial institutions - many Illuminati members sit on the Board of Directors of these institutions
- Local government - Illuminati members are elected to local city councils
- Law - Children are encouraged to go to law and medical school, where Illuminati members abound…
- Media - Members of the Illuminati help fund local newspapers and children are encouraged to study journalism
Allegedly, some Illuminati members “have acquired considerable wealth, but most of them are not wealthy”. Any “suitable” person can become a member of the Illuminati, but proving such suitability, it is said, is a long and arduous process, as not all members seeking membership have pure and honest intentions behind such an application.
In the same interview, it is said that the Illuminati is indeed a highly secretive organisation, a concept that is often misunderstood. “We are in hiding. We have always been”, says the member of the Ruling Council who was interviewed. Three novels, written under the pseudonym of Mike Hockney, contain some of the elements of the Illuminati’s secret. The first novel is titled “The Millionaire’s Death Club”, "the second is titled “Prohibition A” and the third, banned by among others the Roman Catholic Church, is titled “The Armageddon Conspiracy”. The fourth novel in the series is still being completed and will be titled “The Soul Camera”. According to the same interview on Wisdom-Square.com, the entire secret of the Illuminati will be revealed in this novel, but only for those “with eyes to see”…
It is said that the Illuminati favours a meritocracy, where hard work and talent will determine individuals’ class in the world. This is in contrast to the current world order, where money and lineage largely determines an individual’s class in this world.
The Illuminati wants a ‘New World Order’: One without money (in its entirety); an almost Star Trek-like (moneyless) world.
As already said, distinguishing fact from faction where the Illuminati is concerned is difficult, but the fascination with this highly secretive organisation cannot be denied. A number of celebrities that are said to be members of the Illuminati includes rock legends AC/DC, Kiss, Judas Priest, Queen, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bono, Bob Dylan and David Bowie, while Angelina Jolie, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Beyoncé Knowles and Miley Cirus are also said to have joined the ranks of the organisation, as many of them have been seen publicly displaying Illuminati symbols on more than one occasion. Then there is the speculation that many American presidents are members of the Illumnati. It is also said that the Illuminati is growing opium in Afghanistan and shipping cocaine into America and shipping guns to Mexiko…
Whatever you choose to believe, it is clear that money can buy you a comfortable material lifestyle, but happiness? You decide. As to whether there will ever be a cashless era; whether the USA will continue to dominate the economy in the western world; whether the economic power will be in the hands of one family, one country or one government, remains to be seen. For now: Who wants to become a millionaire?