Poor Little Rich Boy: Self-Loathing Progressive Thinks His Wealth Is Immoral

It never stops being hilarious that the only people who really hate wealth are those that have it.

(But only in between yacht trips and Michelin-ranked dining experiences, one would imagine.)


Vox gives the story today of a young man named Adam who was unaware of his family’s early investment in the burgeoning oil industry that led to him becoming the recipient of trust funds that, according to the relatable graphic novel-esque panel format of the piece, had him receiving loads of cash from BP Oil, Exxon, and Chevron.

Adam is a community organizer and (apparently) a socialist, and he experiences an existential crisis when he finally discovers his “modest” upbringing (because he was surrounded by other wealthy families and his family only sent him to exclusive schools his grandparents paid for and he only vacationed at the local beach *eyeroll*) was actually a front for his extraordinary wealth.

Image: Vox

Adam gets “weird” about wealth once he discovers his family’s dirty little secret. He becomes (gasp!) frugal and tries to give back to the community. And finds jokes about wealthy people uncomfortable. Poor Adam. Never having to worry about paying the rent is hard.

Which leads him to finally ask:

Image: Vox

He ultimately decides that working to help others less privileged is a good way to offset the guilt he feels about being part of the 1% (although he does wring his hands over what it means to him personally that AOC’s policy advisor wants to abolish billionaires, presumably because he’s a fan because she’s not a total policy failure like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates (he names them)).


I’m not sure how to help Adam deal with the crushing guilt of having money but I do know there are charitable organizations (Gates knows a few) that might help alleviate his pain. And that his position at “Resource Generation, which helps young people (ages 18-35) with wealth and class privilege to become transformative leaders working toward the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power” is probably less useful than just contributing several thousands at a time to local homeless shelters or health care and/or educational facilities in lower income neighborhoods.

There are literally thousands of way to give.

Don’t feel bad for being rich Adam. I promise you no one who starts out poor and manages to get where you are through hard work feels bad for you. Just try to find it in your conflicted heart to be grateful you’re in a position to help others — and actually help them — and then enjoy your next vacation.

(My colleague Kira Davis wanted me to tip you off to her new podcast episode where she covers the morality of wealth. Give it a listen.)


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