Hold onto your bootstraps, because today we’re gonna talk about getting rich and the American dream.

The idea of a wondrous success that’s available to anyone is sort of woven into the very fabric of our culture. But isn’t reality a lot more complicated? Take the “started in a garage” trope. We’ve been told the tale of so many wildly profitable companies “starting in a garage” that it’s practically a cliche. The implication seems to be that humble beginnings are all that’s necessary to thrive.

While this is inspiring, and while there are many who no doubt have worked their way up from famine to plenty, some argue that emphasizing the rags-to-riches narrative while ignoring other factors is actively harmful.

Aiden Smith on Twitter certainly seems to think so. Here’s how he briefly breaks down the not-so-humble starts of some of our most prominent public figures.

1. Jeff Bezos

Net worth at time of writing: $190 Billion

2. Bill Gates

Net worth at time of writing: $114 Billion

But wait… there’s more…

3. Warren Buffet

Net worth at time of writing: $79 Billion

Talk about a leg up!

4. Mark Zuckerberg

Net worth at time of writing: $99 Billion

Who gets software developers to tutor their children?

Rich people. Very rich people.

5. Dynasties

The Walton family (owners of Walmart) have a combined net worth of nearly $200 Billion at time of writing.

6. Kylie Jenner

At time of writing, Kylie Jenner is just shy of a billionaire at $900 million.

So, what’s the harm in these inspiring tales of the uber rich coming up from nothing?

The harm is that it can create a false narrative that wealth and poverty are merely a matter of trying hard enough. When you ignore factors like privilege, luck, educational opportunity, circumstances of birth, and even genetics (we can’t all be born tech savants, after all), you place undue shame on poor people who are trying their best, and elevate the rich to a sort of demigod level they really don’t deserve.

But that’s just my hot take. What’s yours?

Hash it out in the comments.

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