Eating, Sleeping Or Working?

The purveyors of the American Dream and related paranormal phenomena tell us that we can get rich from hard work. Now, we can certainly become richer by hard work, particularly in an entrepreneur-friendly environment. I have lived long enough in the contrary milieu and watched people choose job security and the satisfactions of tolerated idleness and incompetence to understand that these benefits do not make you rich as well.

Beyond a certain point, hard work will not make you rich either. Entrepreneurs who build real fortunes do not do so by virtue of working 16 hours to everyone else’s 12. Four hours more of your own labour do not make so much difference. The secrets are risk-taking, preferably with someone else’s money, and buying preferential treatment from corrupt government officials. And above all, by exploitation. Nobody can earn a fortune by his own labour, not even with inflated fees, precisely because there are only 24 hours in the day for all of us and we have to eat and sleep. But if we can arrange to have the income generated by people who do not have to eat and sleep, at our command, and have enough of them living like that, then the trick can be done. (It helps to skimp on building and fire safety, too.) The Dream actually translates to “get rich from sweating your labour”.

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