Saturday, October 6, 2012

Choose Your Questions... Carefully

Standard politics disclaimer; skip if you'd rather avoid politics.

The Washington Post engaged in a bit of silliness today. Now, Ace of Spades has some fun simply gawking at the WaPo's stupidity. Allow me, however, to illustrate an important point any budding debater, political reporter, blogger or really, any person who doesn't want to look stupid should learn.

Do not ask questions you do not have the answer for. As a reminder, here is the headline question: "Mitt Romney is worth $250 million. Why so little?" My answer appears below the fold.

The question wants to know why Mitt Romney does not have more money. Allow me to posit that, were one to work for years without accepting a salary, your overall wealth would stabilize and not go up. Romney, if you'll recall (you probably don't since it is not widely reported), accepted no salary for rescuing the Salt Lake City Olympics or for his term as governor. That's... what, nearly a decade of his life or so that he had no salary? That might be a reason he has "so little" money.

Another thing that could eat into one's wealth is if one is continually spending the wealth on things other than growing one's net worth. If you were, to say, give away nearly 30 percent of your income to charities, especially if you were to do it your entire adult life, that might quickly cause your worth to not be so high.

How you run your business also helps you determine how much money you might end up having. No one can deny that Romney is a successful businessman. But, profit is not his prime motivator, and he is clearly willing to sacrifice profit for the greater good. When you are willing to make sacrifices to your bottom line, you end up with less money (but balanced by doing good deeds.)

So, I posit that there are three primary reasons Romney's net worth is "too little."

1. Romney reached a level of wealth that he was happy with and stopped accepting payment for his public service.

2. Romney gives away significant amounts to charity (and this doesn't include private donations, such as taking losses to help a poor couple get a house) might cause him to collect less wealth over time.

3. Profit is not Romney's purpose in life, so he is not hoarding wealth, but rather, putting it to good works and sacrificing profit to help those where he can (see helping a poor couple buy a house.) Perhaps if he spent less time sitting with dying children to comfort them, he'd have more money.

So, Washington Post, there's your answer. That's why Romney's net wealth is "so little." Because he is a genuinely decent human being who is not a money grubbing, monocle wearing stereotype.

The horror.



This started as a series of tweets, but I realized it made a darn good blog post.

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