I don’t know who determined that May 20 should be “Be a Millionaire Day,” though it is a good idea. I do know that most people’s ideologies wreck their chances to earn big bucks.
The way to become a millionaire many times over—a million really isn’t that much these days—is to invent some breakthrough tech or app, or to start and grow a business that has the customers lining up for what you have to offer.
A more mundane way that should be on most people’s lists is to save and invest. You all know Moore’s Law, that semi-conductor capacity doubles every two years? So increases aren’t 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 but, rather, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. Compound interest from investments sort of works that way, too. Not quite that fast, but if you put several thousand dollars, tax free, into an IRA or 401K when you’re young, and you keep at it, you’ll probably be set for a financially comfortable future.
If you’re young, do it now. I’m serious. Do it now.
That said, here’s what can land you and pretty much everyone else in the poor house: the anti-success, pro-envy ideologies that are dominating our culture and that result in wealth-destroying public policies.
Let’s say Hillary Clinton becomes president. And let’s say she and her similar successors continue with crony handouts and welfare state entitlements. More and more, who gets what will be determined by political power. Government debt will pile up. With interest it will grow: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. Today, the government debt is around $16 trillion. Perhaps the Federal Reserve will need to inflate the money supply, another way of saying that your dollars will be diluted and $1 million today might only be worth a few thousands when you retire.
Or let’s say Donald Trump becomes president. And let’s say he and his similar successors decide to erect trade barriers to Mexico, China, and any other country that makes the low-priced products that you buy at Walmart. Those products won’t be low-priced anymore. A 5-pack of undershirts now selling for $10 might cost $50, and so on for many other products. Your $1 million will barely keep you in skivvies.
Or let’s say Bernie Sanders becomes president. And let’s say that he and his similar successors loot the assets of investment bankers and business folks—the “Top 1%” that they demonize—like a flash mob looting an inner-city 7-11. Guess what? That money you put in your IRA or 401K was invested by those bankers in those businesses which produced goods and services and new tech which, in turn, made the value of your money grow.
Ayn Rand explained that money “can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them.” If the Bernies of the world go after the producers, your bank account data displayed in Apple Pay on your iPhone won’t even buy you a coffee at Starbucks.
You now feel you should say something but you choke on your words. What if Bernie accuses you of being selfish? You should answer, “Damned right I am! I want to be a multi-millionaire. I want to become one through my own honest efforts. And I understand that if my fellows are free to do so as well, it will benefit my investment portfolio by producing things of value that can serve me and everybody else.”
So celebrate “Be a Millionaire Day” by committing to your own prosperity as well as to the free market, the only system that will allow you to prosper, and to ethical self-interest, the only morality that will allow you to do so as well.
David Kelley, “For a Museum of Capitalism.” June 2003.
William Thomas, “America’s Deficit Culture.” December 1, 2010.
David Kelley, “The Root of Money.” (Video) October 18, 2012.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.