How hard do rich people work?

13 posts / 0 new
Last post
Ugg's picture
Ugg
Offline
Joined: 17-08-17
Nov 7 2018 00:38
How hard do rich people work?

Does anyone have any idea how hard for example the average 1 percenter works in comparison to the rest of society? Also how much more difficult are their jobs (ie. emotionally, physically, psychologically) are their jobs compared to other people's jobs?

I've figured out that even if you worked 24/7, 365 days a year being paid $15 an hour you would still only be making $131,040 a year. This would put you in the top 10% of incomes in the United States which is pretty good but the 1 percent make 5.48 times that lol. I can't imagine how it could be possible for a single person to actually be working 5.48 times harder than someone working 24/7 365 days a year.

There are tons of jobs that are really hard for people that don't even make 15 dollars an hour and yet people at the top apparently think they work hundreds of times harder than those people which is virtually impossible.

bastarx
Offline
Joined: 9-03-06
Nov 7 2018 02:04

The next time someone tells you they got rich through hard work ask them whose.

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
Nov 7 2018 12:37

Ugg:
‘Does anyone have any idea how hard for example the average 1 percenter works in comparison to the rest of society?’

In the sense that many working class people use the word ‘work’ - as a necessity to provide the essentials of life, then the rich do not ‘work’.

Many of them may feel driven to secure their wealth as best they can in a chaotic capitalist world that could deprive them of the privileges their money can give. A billionaire like Trump can choose to ‘work hard’ at self-glorification and take pleasure in wielding power. That is their decision - while others may try and justify their existence through philanthropic acts. Money gives them freedom to act out their desires -even if they occasionally get caught out!

The rich are not necessarily lazy any more that the poor are shiftless.

Noah Fence's picture
Noah Fence
Offline
Joined: 18-12-12
Nov 7 2018 18:23

My experience with wealthy people, which is pretty extensive as I work with them as clients on a daily basis, is that generally speaking those that are plain old rich, like low millions millionaires, work a hell of a lot of hours. If you take their remuneration out of the equation then it’s fair to say that they probably work harder than the average worker though obviously on an hour to pay basis things are hideously out of whack.
The super rich though are a different matter altogether, they seem to swan around surveying their empire in whatever form that takes and go on vacation with a regularity that simultaneously fills me with envy and dread!
The question is, why do the hard working rich work so much? My conclusion is that for most of them they are either mad or stupid!

jura's picture
jura
Offline
Joined: 25-07-08
Nov 7 2018 20:05

In my experience, even high-level managers (who surely aren't the "1%" but still earn, say, 5 or more times the average wage) work extreme hours. Like, 10 and more on the regular. And their overtime is often unpaid, i.e., it is assumed (and stipulated in their contract) that given their normal income, they should be willing to put in extra hours without any extra compensation, even on weekends or holidays.

It must be incredibly demanding and I would never want to swap places (obviously for other reasons as well). However, we also have to look at the larger picture of "lifetimes", i.e. total hours worked in a lifetime. People in these positions often retire early (i.e. earlier than a normal worker) or go into semi-retirement, later working as part-time consultants, authors, motivational speakers, "mentors" etc. ("doing what they love"), or leave the world of work to go play on the stock market, flip houses, get involved in non-profits, charities, startups etc.

Throughout their careers, they also often support work-free lifestyles for their spouses or other relatives. Their income allows for a higher standard of living, including better health care, which results (other things being equal) in longer life expectancy. So now we're looking at total hours worked in a lifetime in a household, say.

And when I say "work-free lifestyle for their spouses", I also mean housework-free or mostly housework-free. The working class used to have its own version of "work-free" lives for wives, based on the family wage, but it was never housework-free.

Noah Fence's picture
Noah Fence
Offline
Joined: 18-12-12
Nov 7 2018 20:58

Found this from a thread I started when I was brand new to Libcom and not yet a commie convert. The connection to this thread is a little tenuous but it at least backs up my assertion that some rich people are stupid!
Im afraid you’ll have to forgive my naivety.

Webby wrote

Quote:
I had quite a long conversation with one of my company's clients today which I thought I would share. As a bit of background I would describe this guy as a typical Essex/East London working class background rags to riches story. I should say he is around 50 years old. I don't know how wealthy he is, pretty well off though as he told me that he has enough money to never have to work again and owns a large property portfolio. He made his initial capital as the owner of second hand car lot(so was already a small business owner) which was adjacent to some land owned by Sainsburys, which he then sold to them for a large sum. He then invested the cash in property including a car park that he sold to another supermarket and over the years became a wealthy man. A bit of luck to start with followed by either good or lucky investments.
So much for that then. The interesting part for me was that in the course of our conversation I became quite bold and asked how he felt about the fact that he has so much, including a seemingly huge surplus to what he needs to fund his current very luxurious lifestyle and why does he keep on investing and accumilating when he already has much more than he could ever need. Without going in to much detail(in fact, there is not much detail to go in to) he stated the following:

Having come from a deprived background he takes comfort from being in a position of plenty.

He continues to 'work' as he enjoys doing deals and 'winning'. To quote him 'it's all a bit of a game, innit.'

If he can do it anyone can. but most people are lazy or don't want to take any chances.

I'm not hurting anyone, it's just how the world works.

He helps the economy because he spends a lot of money.

That was about it! I was quite shocked by this. I assumed he was a pretty smart fella because contrary to what he says not just anyone can do it. Most people that aren't used to having money end up losing it if they do get their hands on some, yet he seemed not to have thought at all about the implications of his way of living.
Following on from the above I asked him if it was fair that most people spend half of their waking hours or more doing a job that they don't really like. His reply was that if they don't like working they should learn to invest etc(in other words do what he did). I said what if they don't want to work 40 or 50 hours a week or learn to invest or run a business but at the same time didn't want to be destitute. How about the fact that many people want something different to this but the system/society we live in makes it impossible. He said he'd 'never thought of that' and agreed that it was 'a shame' but 'there's nothing I can do about it'
I don't know this guy very well but he's a pleasant affable sort. You could tell he didn't care very much though.
No surprise there I suppose but when I talked about it with my work mate on the way back to the yard he said pretty much the same thing as the wealthy guy. His comments came from a different perspective but basically he was in agreement with the client. His commented that things are how they are and there's not much to be done about it. His hopes were set at the level of getting the 'fucking Tories' out and getting an 'old style' labour party in.
I found both of these conversations extremely depressing - that on the one hand the best someone can do with their wealth is just aquire more wealth and the most that someone with very little dares to hope for is a more tax credits and a better state pension.
So, the question that I've been working up to is how can we encourage the average citizen to imagine and create a fairer world in which people have the freedom to live how they choose to and not just be given very limited choices?
As has been pointed out to me on Libcom many times I am exploited by default as a person that sells his labour whilst other people profit from it. That said, I don't feel exploited, nor do I feel financially deprived - I earn a very good wage and have other sources of income which means that I live in a nice house and drive a nice car etc. Yet, I do feel deprived of a really satisfying existence. It pains me to see so little of my fellow mans potential released. All the big stuff like war, faming etc whilst not affecting me in a direct way add to the feeling of desolation and hopelessness that I feel when I look at the world that I'm part of and that, in my own small way I help to create/maintain every day of my life. I am partly responsible and I don't know what to do.
I suppose this is why I am studying different lines of thought that call themselves anarchism but so far nothing has me wholly convinced. The only thing that I am convinced of is that the answer does not lie with goverment or the state. I've been called an AnCap on here but from what little understanding I have of it free market anarchism seems just plain daft - I feel it would result in exactly the same social seperation that we have now.
Anyway, I realise that the above is not very positive but would be very interested to read some of your views.

Ugg's picture
Ugg
Offline
Joined: 17-08-17
Nov 7 2018 23:39

How much do you think it is the fact that they're being paid more or are actually allowed to work longer than 40 hours a week at their job is the reason why they work hard?

How much do you think it's the prestige (ie. getting to wear nice clothes instead of a mcdonald's uniform, the way people treat you when you tell them what you do)?

Do you think that the higher pay allows them to hire babysitters, send their kids to daycare or support stay-at-home partners while average workers can't afford this?

Edit: I found this study but I haven't looked into how they figured out how many hours people worked in a week. I feel like the more money you make the more likely you are to inflate your numbers when self-reporting.

https://dqydj.com/individual-incomes-versus-the-amount-of-hours-worked-in-the-united-states/

Apparently people making 500,000 work only about 10 extra hours a week more than a person with 40 hour full-time job.

wojtek
Offline
Joined: 8-01-11
Nov 8 2018 00:15

Well most people want some affirmation, to be respected. Being rich means more respect or at least less humiliation.

jura's picture
jura
Offline
Joined: 25-07-08
Nov 8 2018 06:50

Ugg, see here for Eurostat data on average usual weekly hours in the EU (including the UK). You can customize the table to differentiate between occupations. Considering only full-time employed persons, the average manager (again, these mostly aren't owner-operators) in the UK works 46 hours, the average clerical worker puts in 39 hours, the average plant machinery operator works 44.9 hours. The total average for all occupations in the UK is about 42 hours. It's also useful to look at the EU averages.

So the differential in the UK is not as great as I'd expect. Although personally I'm looking at this from the "clerical worker" perspective, with similar hours. There, the yearly manager-worker differential is 350 hours, i.e. over 40 normal 8-hour days or two extra months of work per year.

Ugg wrote:
How much do you think it is the fact that they're being paid more or are actually allowed to work longer than 40 hours a week at their job is the reason why they work hard?

Well, I don't think most employers would really discourage you from working unpaid overtime. Apart from pay and ambition, I think managerial work culture also plays a role, I'm sure there's a feeling of peer pressure (which is also passed onto subordinates).

Ugg wrote:
How much do you think it's the prestige (ie. getting to wear nice clothes instead of a mcdonald's uniform, the way people treat you when you tell them what you do)?

That surely plays a role, as well as the fact that your decisions can actually make a difference, there's the prospect of advancing to an even higher position (or early retirement), and you get to boss people around.

Ugg wrote:
Do you think that the higher pay allows them to hire babysitters, send their kids to daycare or support stay-at-home partners while average workers can't afford this?

I do. There are bound to be differences between countries in this regard but where I'm from daycare and babysitters are expensive so the rates of using them definitely increase with income. The stay-at-home partner becomes a "manager of the household" of sorts (i.e. the actual housework is done by underlings) or is free to pursue hobbies, work with charities etc.

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
Nov 8 2018 10:57

It is interesting how we can analyse the behaviour of the rich. I can only make sense of it if I compare it to how others live. Noah may well be right the ‘hard working’ wealthy may be mad or stupid – though how many clean their own toilet?

Jura #5 mentions them working extra hours without compensation, well they are part of a sizable club including teachers and health care workers. When a plant maintenance worker I’ve known supervisors, who would turn up ‘off the clock’ to snoop around hoping to catch some infringement. Some people can be pure bastards without a money incentive.

gram negative's picture
gram negative
Offline
Joined: 24-11-09
Nov 8 2018 14:06

So, I think that 'hard' is a difficult word to use as a comparison for something like this. According to Robert Karasek, as well as those who have used his work, a better way to compare job 'hardness' may be along a number of axes, with stress experienced and control over the conditons of work being the most significant. This perspective was influenced by the research of Peter Marmot, who did the famous Whitehall study that determined that heart attacks (as well as all-cause mortality) were much more likely to happen to those on the bottom of the occupational hierarchy as compared to the top, and that this relationship exhibited a gradient distribution, essentially a dose-relationship between control and health impacts, which upended the prevailing view that heart attacks were more common to high-powered business types due to the stress of their work. The research on stress/control has shown that the negative effects of a high stress job were negated by a high degree of control, and even seemed to show health & social benefits, despite the high demands of the job. These jobs include what many would consider the working rich, such as managers, business executives, physicians, and public officials. The jobs that are the worst for you, however, are the jobs that combine high stress with low control, and these jobs are nearly entirely those on the bottom rungs of income and status, such as retail and service jobs, as well as repetitive manufacturing and logicistics jobs. This has all been a lot of words to say that I don't think rich people who work actually do work harder, despite putting in more hours or being in a more technically demanding field, because of the countervailing effects of their high degree of autonomy. There's also research that has come out that has shown that those in high-level business positions overestimate the time they are working because they include phone calls, lunches and dinners, and other duties that many would not consider work - or at least hard work!

bastarx
Offline
Joined: 9-03-06
Nov 9 2018 01:45
jura wrote:
Well, I don't think most employers would really discourage you from working unpaid overtime. Apart from pay and ambition, I think managerial work culture also plays a role, I'm sure there's a feeling of peer pressure (which is also passed onto subordinates).

This is pretty tangential but indulge me, or not...

A friend of mine did law and economics degrees at university. Really smart guy, somewhat sceptical of some aspects of mainstream economics but basically bought into all the free market dogma. Gets a job at a big corporate law firm after uni despite being much more interested in economics than law. Quickly realises the life of a junior corporate lawyer (ie working ridiculous hours to show you are future partner material) is not for him. Starts showing up at 930 or 10 instead of 8, leaving at 4 instead of after 6, reads the newspaper at his desk, essentially does very little work. The partners stop giving him work to do because that's how they punish you in big firms and the baby lawyer is meant to show that they really want a future there by begging for work. My friend doesn't care and doesn't beg for work giving him an even easier life at the office. It took them 2 years to suggest he take his talents elsewhere whereupon he did an economics PhD. The antagonism between labour and capital appears everywhere!

His wife played the corporate lawyer game though so they still have a pretty good life.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Nov 9 2018 20:53

I think gram picks up on one of the big differences in terms of stress. Knowing a project has a deadline and that you'll be homeless at the end of the month is not the same as knowing you'll lose the bonus that would buy you an ivory backscratcher.Also I agree that a lot of things they do, seem a lot less like work, whenI go to a meeting I am sitting there knowing I am not being paid so someone can waste my time, they are having a leisurely, boozy lunch or on a golf course or something. Also people often over report. For example Trump who goes on about working a lot and only needing four hours sleep yet has been on holiday for a shockingly large percentage of his presidency (especially in a country where most people get two weeks paid holiday a year. if they're lucky)

But those are higher level people, When I worked in a supermarket the dept managers who wanted to advance worked very long hours to try to impress people. Although they did seem to spend a lot of time in meetings or discussions etc and don't actually do very much The senior in my department pretty much ran the place when I got there and had refused the manager's position twce because he made more off overtime. (There was a power struggle between him and the new manager later on)

The overreporting of hours is typical, the kind of job where manager will take two-hour lunch breaks while everyone else eats at their desk is pretty common but the manager counts the whole day, they also include time travelling etc. which a lot of jobs don't do.

And at the end of the day the point isn't that they work hard or harder than workers, the point is that they benefit from it. So while they may (very unlikely, but possible) have "worked for every penny" they have still benefit from rewards the ordinary worker cannot hope to get. So maybe Cheney does work 12-hour days and stand up the whole day at his special desk, but he makes a hell of a lot more than a cashier and, like is said above, he has a shitload of control.