09/04/2012 12:34 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2012

The Way the Rich Really Are: Breaking Down New Pew Research Center Reports

Two new reports from The Pew Research Center hold some interesting perspectives into how American's feel about the middle class compared to the wealthy. The first report says the middle class is falling backwards in income and wealth, and has lost a lot of its faith in the future. The second report outlines how the middle class views the wealthy when it comes to taxes, greed, worth ethic and more.


The findings of the report, "Yes, the Rich Are Different," say that 58% of people believe the rich don't pay enough in taxes.

The reality is the wealthy pay more in taxes each year than most people pay in a lifetime. One percent of the population is paying 20% of the taxes, while 20% of the population pays 80-90% of the taxes, and 50% of people don't pay any taxes at all.

Additionally, don't bite the hand that feeds you. If 58% of people really believe the rich don't pay enough in taxes, they clearly don't understand what would happen without this group of the population. They are the producers, the job creators and the small business owners who define the American dream. They help bump up the GDP. Take them out of the equation and watch unemployment skyrocket to unprecedented proportions -- bringing on the demise of America.

Admiring the rich

The study found that 92% of people who described themselves as middle class and 84% of lower-income people say they admire the rich. This is great news but what these people don't realize is that now is one of the best times in history to join the ranks of the wealthy. America is full of problems right now, and for those who can be creative and find solutions to these problems, they're going to be rewarded nicely.

For instance, corporate America is sitting on $2.5 trillion dollars in cash, and they are searching desperately for help dealing with unprecedented problems around leadership, customer service, strategic planning, team building, incentive compensation structure and many others. Corporate Canada is hording over $500 billion in cash and struggling with the same issues.

The average American has lost 39% of their net worth since the economic collapse and is searching for bargains at a level not seen since the Great Depression. Huge opportunities include selling and brokering used goods like clothes, toys, computers and sporting goods. These items can be purchased at garage sales and resold off and online.

There are 3 million millionaires in the U.S., and they are the largest buyer of personal services. It's a perfect time to start a lawn care service, maid service, handyman business, pool cleaning company, grocery shopping service, etc. The rich are still getting richer because most of them earn their money in the financial markets, which have risen in the past few years, while the average American depends on jobs and home equity for their wealth.

Work Ethic and Intelligence

Forty-three percent of Americans see rich people as more intelligent and 42% believe they work harder than the average American, according to the Pew report. There are some very intelligent people who are rich, but the truth is being wealthy has nothing to do with the highest level of education you completed, your IQ or how book smart you are.

While wealthy people believe in formal education, few credit their financial empires to what they learned in school. Getting rich is about knowing what you want and being laser focused on getting it no matter how long it takes.

The masses rationalize not being rich by convincing themselves wealthy people work all the time. They say this for two reasons: one is because they want to make themselves feel better about being broke. The other is because they only understand the linear thinking world, in other words trading time for money. They think the only way to earn more money is to work more hours which is completely inaccurate. The other piece to the puzzle is that most wealthy people love what they do, so to them it's not even work; it's all play.


Of all the adults surveyed, 55% believe that rich people are greedier than the middle class. I don't know if greedy is necessarily the word because some of the wealthiest people are also the most philanthropic people around, sharing their fortunes with people and organizations less fortunate.

The rich are selfish and self-absorbed, but the reality is part of the reason they're rich is because they always put themselves first. The masses are programmed to believe at an early age they should put the needs of others in front of their own. While this sounds like a spirit-driven, high-level philosophy, it's the worst advice you can get. When you fly on a commercial airline, the first thing the flight attendant tells the passengers is, "in case of an emergency, secure your oxygen mask first before assisting anyone else."

That selfish strategy has saved many lives, and the premise is simple: if you're not taking care of you, you're not in a position to help anyone else. You can't give what you don't have, and if you're struggling to pay your bills while volunteering four nights a week, you're probably hurting more people than you're helping. The world-class philosophy is to get rich, get what you want, and help others in any way you wish.

The bottom line is don't always listen to what the surveys have to say. Sometimes they provide us with valuable information, but other times the results are based on a series of beliefs held by people who are misled and don't understand the way it really works. When it comes to wealth, freedom from financial worries and a millionaire's lifestyle is closer than you think. Money flows like water to great ideas; the key is learning to turn on the faucet.