Monday, November 2, 2009

Accumulation of Advantages

C Wright Mills:

I. No man, to my knowledge has ever entered in the ranks of the great American fortunes merely by saving a surplus from his salary or wages. In one way or another, he has come into command of a strategic position which allows him the chance to appropriate big money, and usually he has to have available a considerable sum of money in order to parlay it into really big wealth. He may work and slowly accumulate up to this big jump, but at some point he must find himself in a position to take up the main chance for which he has been on the lookout. On a salary of two or three hundred thousand a year, even forgetting taxes, and living like a miser in a board shack, it has been mathematically impossible to save up a great American fortune.

II. Once he has made the big jump, once he has negotiated the main chance, the man who is rising gets involved in the accumulation of advantages, which is merely another way of saying that to him hath shall be given. To parlay considerable money into the truly big money he must be in a position to benefit from the accumulation of advantages. The more he has, and the more strategic his economic position, the greater and the surer are his chances to gain more. The more he has, the greater his credit - his opportunities to use other peoples money - and hence the less risk he need take in order to accumulate more. There comes a point in the accumulation of advantages, in fact, when the risk is no risk, but is as sure as the tax yield of the government itself.

Once you have a million, advantages will accumulate - even for a man in a coma.

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