TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS
How fast things change. Take, for example, the beneficiaries of North Dakota’s fledgling oil boom. Six years wrought immense monetary transformation across Mountrail County.
Today it is easy to spot many of the newly rich from their classic behavior. The underlying attitudes are a dead giveaway.
-- Many people tend to spend their new found wealth fast and frivolously. Tangible evidence of their affluence announces to the world “I’ve arrived.” The accumulation of pelf takes on the appearance of a consummate flea market.
-- Handling their financial assets intelligently and discreetly is not their strong suit. They may or may not know how to preserve and shelter their good fortune much less make it work for them. What would they know about investment instruments of below average risk. Why would they know how the “old moneyed class” goes about investing sums in a variety of tax-free municipal bonds living off the untaxed proceeds rather than squandering their capital? How would they know about involved techniques of trusts that direct their assets according to their wishes?
-- Invariably their conversation revolves around their money. Central to the discussion is what they have, what they’ll get and how they plan to spend it. Old money, on the other hand, has divergent interests to occupy their discussion.
-- The truly wealthy old moneyed folks may still acquire items that only they can afford. The newly wealthy folks, on the other hand, can now acquire what was once reserved for only the truly wealthy. Oil boom beneficiaries now afford exclusive vacations, properties and cars that were once available to only a few. The most recent mark of opulence that the truly wealthy can enjoy is philanthropy. Giving away vast sums of money may now be the final status symbol.
But do they? What about a simple tithe? What a novel idea. Perish the thought! That’s a five letter word to be avoided at all costs (no pun intended).
The newly rich, or as the French say, “nouveau riche,” have a lot to learn about living with wealth. A related term, “noblesse oblige” (literally “nobility obligates”), implies an honorable or benevolent behavior considered to be the responsibility of persons of high rank or birth -- or new found wealth. Noblesse oblige implies that privilege must be balanced with duty toward those less fortunate. That is a lesson not easily learned.
New found wealth does not automatically confer dignity and honor. Acquiring wealth does not necessarily translate into noble character. Like it or not, newly acquired money may well produce tawdry and vulgar behavior in the beneficiary. The flaunting of opulence begets the acquisition of “things.” Who would have guessed?
People with oil money jingling in their pockets are about to discover what it means to live in the rarefied atmosphere of wealth. With affluence comes the burden of a new station in life.
“Have nots” will always portray the moneyed class as “greedy.” The new oil magnates once lived as “have nots;” they used to point to the “haves” and scoff at the wealthy as “greedy” recipients of ill-gotten gain. They now find themselves on the receiving end of disapprobation.
Then there are the new friends. New friends, unwanted at best, may soon come a-calling. Inevitably, those with their hands out offer any excuse to meet the inexperienced affluent. Maybe not classified as “friends,” nevertheless the IRS would like to make their acquaintance.
A change in tax brackets necessarily draws the attention of the IRS. Suddenly, the old “soak the rich” mantra takes on a whole new and unwelcome meaning. Ah yes, the newly affluent must learn their place in the pecking order.
Money may be wonderful and a fist full of dollars a heady thing, especially for those who once lived without. But, let’s face it. Being rich is tough.