Rich is a state of mind, place and time

Elise T. Chisolm

November 01, 1990|By Elise T. Chisolm

I REALLY don't think the government should tell us who's rich and who isn't.

I know people who are rich who live on $10,000 a year. Of course, they live in a Hooterville.

In the endless negotiations over cutting the deficit, the word rich has become a bandied buzzword. But when you come down to it, rich can be a state of mind or it can depend on where you live.

I think due to the budget crisis and the Congressional talk of "soaking the rich," we need to define the word "rich." In my dictionary the first definition is "great wealth or possessions," but it does not say what or how much it takes.

Internal Revenue Service statistics say that $100,000 is more than 98 percent of what all households make, and that $100,000 is well above the typical earnings of many highly paid professionals. But the flap seems to be whether or not the family who makes $100,000 should be counted in the bracket of the truly rich.

Now some say $100,000 is not an extreme amount of income anymore. But I think that depends on where you are sitting.

Being rich to me is living on $100,000, and I think if you ask the guy who lives on the street he'd agree.

To me rich is someone who makes more than I do.

In Brownsville, Texas, a house cost $60,000. That same house in San Francisco, despite the earthquakes, would go for $220,000.

See, rich varies from place to place.

Jayne Miller, consumer reporter for WBAL-Channel 11, did some comparison shopping in different cities and found that a bag of groceries -- with the same brand-name items -- costing $75 dollars in Baltimore is about $15 less in Cleveland. But do you want to move to Cleveland?

Who am I to say who's rich. I see some people living in tiny, poor-looking homes who have VCRs and new cars. Rich is relative.

That's America. Rich is up for grabs in the land of the free and the brave. That is "free" if you are brave enough to know how to earn it, how to keep it, and are in the right field.

Here's what rich really is to me:

* Rich is never having to say, "The check is in the mail."

* Rich is never having to apologize with: "Hon, I don't know what came over me. When I saw that coat, I just went bonkers. Maybe we can scrimp on the groceries."

* Rich is never having to ask the waiter about the price of the specials.

* Rich is never having to say to your spouse: "Maybe we should consider the home equity loan or a second mortgage."

* Rich is never having to pump your own gas, shovel your own snow, or wash your own windows.

Who am I kidding? Rich is having wonderful friends, a loving family and crazy spouse who says "Don't worry, be happy" and believes it.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.