Read these two articles from Sunday's New York Times:
In Silicon Valley, Millionaires Who Don't Feel Rich
Mr. Kremen estimated his net worth at $10 million. That puts him firmly in the top half of 1 percent among Americans, according to wealth data from the Federal Reserve, but barely in the top echelons in affluent towns like Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton. So he logs 60- to 80-hour workweeks because, he said, he does not think he has nearly enough money to ease up.
“You’re nobody here at $10 million,” Mr. Kremen said earnestly over a glass of pinot noir at an upscale wine bar here.
The Days and Nights of Maurice Cherry
Mr. Cherry had no plans to gamble. He is what is known as a rider, one of dozens of New Yorkers — often homeless or nearly homeless — who travel back and forth between Chinatown and Atlantic City or Connecticut each day, and sometimes twice a day. They sleep through the two-and-a-half-hour rides and make a quick buck off the casinos without handling so much as a single chip.
The most dedicated riders virtually live on the bus, making two round trips a day. They leave early in the morning from an informal bus depot at Division Street and the Bowery, spend a few hours at the casino, then return in the late afternoon. As night falls, they are back on the corner, ready for their next journey. For some riders, the routine brings with it a sense of shame. “This is the bottom of the barrel,” said one scrawny young man who was hunched against a chain-link fence as he waited for a bus. “There’s not much further to sink.”
As riders get off the bus at Resorts, they are handed paper certificates worth $25 in cash, which they head straight into the casino to redeem. “It’s the same people every night, day in and day out,” said Michelle Garland, a Resorts cashier. “I guess it’s the only way for them to get a couple dollars in their pocket.”
The casino, a ’70s-style carpeted maze rife with glassy-eyed gamblers, resounded with the unmistakable electronic melody of money being won and lost on slot machines. But Mr. Cherry was not even tempted to gamble. After redeeming his certificate, he walked from the casino to an Indian and soul food restaurant a few blocks away. After a $6.50 dinner of fried fish and macaroni and cheese, he strolled back along the Boardwalk, sea gulls circling overhead as if hypnotized by the white light beaming off the casinos.
Now stop and ask yourself how you feel. How do you feel about those people? Do you feel scorn? Towards whom? And how do you feel about yourself? Do you feel dissatisfied and envious? Or do you feel fortunate and prosperous? Or something in between, or something else entirely?
The thing that struck me about these stories is that we all seem much more likely to look at richer people and feel poor in comparison than we are to look at poor people and feel rich in comparison. Somebody always has more, and we always want more. That is what we focus on. There are many more people out there who have less, yet we so rarely take that as a lesson in appreciating what we have and seeing it as "enough."
The story about the Silicon Valley millionaires is the #1 most-emailed article from the Times website right now. The Atlantic City article isn't even on the list.