This is part 2 of our 4 part series regarding the biggest scams disguised as wisdom in today’s world.
Scam #2: Get a Job
We see scams every day. Sometimes they are easy to see and call out, like spam emails that promise riches in exchange for your bank information. But some scams are a lot harder to spot. From my rich dad, I learned financial smarts, which taught me how to spot scams—and how to not be taken in. Unfortunately, without those financial smarts, it can be very easy to be taken in by scams, especially the scams that the ultra-rich use to keep the poor in their place.
To break away from those scams you usually need someone else to warn you that you’re being duped, to tell you that you’re being taken advantage of, and to tell you what you can do about it.
The Big One: You Need a Job
When I was young, my poor dad always told me that I needed to go to school so that I could get a good job. To my poor dad, getting a good job was the most important thing in life. My poor dad worked very hard, but he was always worried about money. Yet, he never got ahead. His job was one of the things that actually kept him from succeeding. He toiled away working for others, often getting raises only to keep up with the cost of living and paying a high percentage to the government in taxes.
On the other hand, my rich dad never had a “real” job, and he was very successful and very wealthy. My rich dad understood that the sentiment, “Get a job,” was a scam. Rather than get a job, he created jobs. Rather than work for someone else, he worked for himself. Rather than pay high taxes, he used the tax code to become wealthy
How the Scam Works
“Get a job” is a scam because you have no control over your income and it makes you poorer due to having to pay the most in taxes.
Guess who isn’t paying a lot in taxes (as a percentage)? The owner of the business you work for. The scam gets even worse when you look at it long-term. If you do well at your job, if you claw your way up the ladder, what is your reward? A small increase in pay and a bigger increase in taxes.
It gets even worse if you work for yourself. You pay the highest taxes in the form of self-employment taxes.
The only way to avoid this is to be the owner of a big business or to be an investor and put your money to work for you. That’s where the wealthy work and live. The system is set up to benefit the ultra-rich so they can keep their money while making sure you keep getting taxed.
The Tax Scam
When you realize that taxes are a way of keeping you in your place, you can see that this scam is really just an extension of the scam, “Go to School.” It’s in school that you learn to be a good employee, that if you work hard you can succeed. In reality, you can’t, not on those terms.
The government gives tax breaks to those people they identify as creating jobs: entrepreneurs and big business owners. They want the private sector to develop real estate, start companies, and generate wealth. The government rewards that. In return, the government expects employees to pay taxes that cover things like Medicare and Social Security.
Some people argue that employers pay these taxes too, but really what they are doing is using money that would otherwise pay you to pay their share of the taxes.
The idea that a job is an important part of your personal security is a big part of scam #2, “Get a Job”. The reality is that having a job does not make you secure. You only need to look at the state of our economy or turn on the news to see that people are losing their jobs or are underemployed. In aneconomy where people are losing their jobs, the more secure position is to own the company that is firing people.
My poor dad, just like most people, was conditioned and taught from the day he was born to be an employee. My rich dad broke away from that thinking and was an entrepreneur. He put his money to work. He was on the side of the rich, the side protected by the government. But how do you get there?
The first answer is simple. You do it by increasing your financial education and thinking like an entrepreneur instead of an employee. When you do that, you break out of the rat race. You realize that everything you’ve been taught about getting a job and finding success is a lie, and that there is another way—a better way that actually works. And that’s the secret the ultra-rich don’t want you to know.
Scam #3: Work Hard
People often talk about a scam as a con. Con is short for confidence. A con man can only dupe you if you put your confidence in him. When I talk about the scams designed by the ultra-rich to keep you poor, one of the hardest things to get past is that so many of us have been taught to believe with conviction and confidence that these scams are true. And the conning started so young that we never had a chance to think differently.
That’s the difference between thinking like my poor dad, who did what he was told and died poor, and thinking like my rich dad, who was financially educated and grew rich based on his knowledge of how money worked.
This chapter is about one of the biggest, most-ingrained scams: If you work hard, you will be rewarded.
Don’t Work Hard
My poor dad worked hard all his life. He went to school because he was told to. He got a job because he was taught that was what you have to do. He worked hard because that was what he was supposed to do. Yet, he struggled financially his whole life, and often he was not happy.
When it came to working hard, my rich dad liked a story from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Tom runs a con job on the kids in his neighborhood. His job is to paint a fence, and he makes it look like so much fun that all the other kids offer to pay him to do the work.
Rich dad said, “Rather than work hard, I work smart. Smart work is getting others to not only do but also want to do hard work for you. And smart work is also getting money to work for you, not the other way around.”
Why Hard Work Doesn’t Work
It seems like a simple math equation: effort=reward. You work hard, you earn more, you get more for your effort, and it seems like it should work. Once upon a time, it may have worked that way.
But now, there are two problems. One, as I wrote about in scam #2, “Get a Job,” if you’re an employee, working harder may get you more money but it also means you’ll be taxed more. So working harder can actually result in you being punished financially. That’s why we created the Rich Dad Scams series, so that you can see them for the lies they are.
The second problem is that you’re working hard for something in particular: Money. And that money is worth less and less every day.
During the 21st century, average income after inflation has fallen. And continues to fall. If you’ve been working hard at your job for ten years, the money you’re making now is actually worth less than it was when you earned it. Practically speaking, that probably means you’re either making the same amount now as a few years ago, or maybe even making less! Rather than work hard for money, you should be working smart by having money work hard for you. That is what the rich do.
Every week most people just hold on until Friday because they hate their job. When Sunday rolls around, they’re miserable because they know they have five days of work to look forward to. It’s a lousy way to live, but it’s not the only way. We’ve just been trained to think it’s the only way.
I love my work, but I’m also never far from it. Like most entrepreneurs, I’m at it almost 24/7, but it doesn’t make me miserable—and it certainly doesn’t feel like work. It’s more like a game that I love to play. It’s challenging. It’s fun. It’s rewarding. Best of all, I don’t have to work. If that sounds attractive to you, the first step to get there is recognizing the “work hard” scam that it is.
Stop working hard for others and start working smart for yourself.