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A millionaire is an individual whose net worth or wealth is equal to or exceeds one million units of currency.


  • He called to mind all the millionaires he had ever read or heard of; they didn't seem to get much fun out of their riches. The majority of them were martyrs to dyspepsia. They were often weighed down by the cares and responsibilities of their position; the only people who were unable to obtain an audience of them at any time were their friends; they lived in a glare of publicity, and every post brought them hundreds of begging letters, and a few threats; their children were in constant danger from kidnappers, and they themselves, after knowing no rest in life, could not be certain that even their tombs would be undisturbed. Whether they were extravagant or thrifty, they were equally maligned, and, whatever the fortune they left behind them, they could be absolutely certain that, in a couple of generations, it would be entirely dissipated.
  • [V]ery little is required... to make mankind happy, and... the prizes of life worth contending for are, generally speaking, within the reach of the great mass.
    Did you ever sum up these prizes and think how very little the millionaire has beyond the peasant, and how very often his additions tend not to happiness but to misery! What constitutes the choice food of the world? Plain beef, common vegetables and bread, and the best of all fruits—the apple; the only nectar bubbles from the brook without money and without price. All that our race eats or drinks beyond this range must be inferior, if not positively injurious. Dress... is less and less comfortable in proportion to its frills and its cost, and no jewel is so refined as the simple flower in the hair, which the village maid has for the plucking. All... beyond this range is a source of unhappiness. To be the most simply attired is to be the most elegantly dressed. So much for true health and happiness in all that we eat, and drink, and wear.
  • While poor panting millionaires, poor tired earls and poor God-forsaken American men of culture are plodding about Italy for literary inspiration, Charles Dickens made up the whole of that Italian romance... from the faces of two London organ grinders.
  • I have taken this case of the growth of the cosmopolitan financier because it is not so stale in discussion as its parallel the growth of Socialism. But as regards Dickens, the same criticism applies to both. Dickens knew that Socialism was coming, though he did not know its name. Similarly, Dickens knew that the South African millionaire was coming, though he did not know the millionaire's name. Nobody does. His was not a type of mind to disentangle either the abstract truths touching the Socialist, nor the highly personal truth about the millionaire. He was a man of impressions; he has never been equalled in the art of conveying what a man looks like at first sight—and he simply felt the two things as atmospheric facts. He felt that the mercantile power was oppressive, past all bearing by Christian men; and he felt that this power was no longer wholly in the hands even of heavy English merchants like Podsnap. It was largely in the hands of a feverish and unfamiliar type like Lammle and Veneering. The fact that he felt these things is almost more impressive because he did not understand them.
    • G. K. Chesterton, Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911) p. 13.
  • I do not doubt I could find something nice about Lyons and Selfridge if I searched... But I shall not. The nearest postman or cabman will provide me with just the same brain of steel and heart of gold as these unlucky lucky men. But I do resent the whole age of patronage being revived under such absurd patrons; and all poets becoming court poets, under kings who have taken no oath, nor led us into any battle.
    The fairy tales that we were all taught did not, like the history we were all taught, consist entirely of lies. ...[I]n all such popular narratives, the king, if he is a wicked king, is generally also a wizard. ...[T]here is a very vital human truth enshrined in this. Bad government, like good government, is a spiritual thing. Even the tyrant never rules by force alone; but mostly by fairy tales. And so it is with the modern tyrant, the great employer. The sight of a millionaire is seldom, in the ordinary sense, an enchanting sight: nevertheless, he is in his way an enchanter. As they say in the gushing articles about him in the magazines, he is a fascinating personality. So is a snake. At least he is fascinating to rabbits; and so is the millionaire to the rabbit-witted sort of people that ladies and gentlemen have allowed themselves to become.
  • Did you ever see a man who struts around altogether too large to notice an ordinary working mechanic? Do you think he is great? He is nothing but a puffed-up balloon held down by his big feet.
    Who are the great men and women? My attention was called the other day to the history of a very little thing that made the fortune of a very poor man. ...[B]ecause of that experience he—not a great inventor or genius—invented the pin that now is called the safety-pin, and out of that safety-pin made the fortune of one of the great aristocratic families of this nation.
    A poor man in Massachusetts who had worked in the nail-works was injured at thirty-eight... He was employed in the office to rub out the marks on the bills made by pencil memorandums, and he used a rubber until his hand grew tired. He then tied a piece of rubber on the end of a stick and worked it like a plane. His little girl came and said, "Why, you have a patent, haven't you?" The father said afterward, "My daughter told me when I took that stick and put the rubber on the end that there was a patent, and that was the first thought of that." He went to Boston and applied for his patent, and every one of you that has a rubber-tipped pencil in your pocket is now paying tribute to the millionaire. No capital, not a penny did he invest in it. All was income, all the way up into the millions.
  • My grandfather retired from active business on the eve of that great financial epoch, to grapple with which his talents were well adapted; and when the wars and loans of the Revolution were about to create those families of millionaires, in which he might probably have enrolled his own. That, however, was not our destiny. My grandfather had only one child, and nature had disqualified him, from his cradle, for the busy pursuits of men.
  • We may not appreciate the fact; but a fact nevertheless it remains: we are living in a Golden Age, the most gilded Golden Age of human history—not only of past history, but of future history. For, as Sir Charles Darwin and many others before him have pointed out, we are living like drunken sailors, like the irresponsible heirs of a millionaire uncle. At an ever accelerating rate we are now squandering the capital of metallic ores and fossil fuels accumulated in the earth’s crust during hundreds of millions of years. How long can this spending spree go on? Estimates vary. But all are agreed that within a few centuries or at most a few millennia, Man will have run through his capital and will be compelled to live, for the remaining nine thousand nine hundred and seventy or eighty centuries of his career as Homo sapiens, strictly on income. Sir Charles is of the opinion that Man will successfully make the transition from rich ores to poor ores and even sea water, from coal, oil, uranium and thorium to solar energy and alcohol derived from plants. About as much energy as is now available can be derived from the new sources—but with a far greater expense in man hours, a much larger capital investment in machinery. And the same holds true of the raw materials on which industrial civilization depends. By doing a great deal more work than they are doing now, men will contrive to extract the diluted dregs of the planet’s metallic wealth or will fabricate non-metallic substitutes for the elements they have completely used up. In such an event, some human beings will still live fairly well, but not in the style to which we, the squanderers of planetary capital, are accustomed.
    • Aldous Huxley, "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow", Collected Essays (1959), pp. 293–94; first published in Adonis and the Alphabet (1956).
  • We think we have got freedom of the press. When one millionaire has ten newspapers and ten million people have no newspapers—that is not freedom of the press.
    • Anastas Mikoyan, "Hungary: Traveling With Mikoyan Quote By Quote", TIME (January 26, 1959)
  • If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. The claims that the ultra-rich 1% make for themselves—that they are possessed of unique intelligence or creativity or drive—are examples of the self-attribution fallacy. ...crediting yourself with outcomes for which you weren’t responsible... [owing] less to talent and intelligence than to a combination of the ruthless exploitation of others and accidents of birth...
  • I'm a millionaire, I'm a multi-millionaire, I'm filthy rich. You know why I'm a multi-millionaire? 'Cause multi-millions like what I do. That's pretty good, isn't it? There's millions that believe in what I do. Pretty cool, huh?
  • [A]fter the war... I got a note asking if I would dine with him one evening. It was from an address in Hill Street, and I... wondered how [Felix] Fenston came to be living in so select and expensive a neighborhood... [T]he mansion was in full swing, with waiters in tail-coats and white gloves on every landing, and pink champagne flowing freely. It seemed that it had been the Duke of Devonshire's residence... Later, when we sat talking, he explained how he had become a millionaire. It was terribly simple, he said, with noticeable irritation, as though this very simplicity was a mean trick depriving him of the the satisfaction of acquiring riches. There he was in war-time London, with no job, a meagre disability pension, no prospects. All alone. Thus situated, an idea of dazzling, almost ridiculous simplicity seized him. London was full of bombed-out sites which in the then circumstances had practically no value. If the war was won, they would recover their value anyway, and more; if lost, the question did not arise. ...[I]t recalled Pascal's famous wager. Why not, then, somehow raise some money and acquire a site or two? Then use them as collateral to raise more money, and so ad infinitum By the war's end he was, like Gogol's hero in Dead Souls, on paper at any rate, a large property-owner. Thereafter, it was easy to become a property-developer and millionaire. By this stage in his recital he was almost shaking with rage to think that he, a sort of genius, should have had to bend to such paltry devices, when he could have done things so much more difficult, requiring so much greater audacity and imagination. ...I think my presence somehow comforted him; I being a fairly obscure journalist, by no means well off, and so reassuring him that, by comparison with me, he had scored by becoming a millionaire, and acquiring all the hangers-on, male and female, that went therewith. He was always trying to dazzle me, too, with tales of big-game shooting in Kenya and India, of his financial deals and his country estate. Or producing smart people at his table. This culminated in a dinner party to meet Princess Alexaadra and her husband, Angus Ogilvy. Paul Getty, a lugubrious figure reputed to be the richest man in the world, was another guest. After he had seen the Princess off, Fenston did a strange thing; he went pounding down the great stairway he had just come up, jumping ferociously from step to step, until he got to the bottom, sweating and triumphant. With his artificial leg and heavy build, the effect was frightening; he might so easily have fallen and killed himself. I took it to be a demonstration, primarily for my benefit, of his strength and virility despite his disability and millionaire status. Some months later I read in the paper that he had suffered a heart attack; then that he had died. It gave me a pang to think I had only responded to his showing off by my own kind of showing off; not trying to meet him on some other basis—stretching out a hand and receiving a hand.
  • For Rothschild... the Avenue Marigny house was a home from home, but... I felt, a prison. Installed there, he was the the de facto if not the de jure head of the family. ...[H]is disposition was a curious, uneasy mixture of arrogance and diffidence. Somewhere between White's Club and the Ark of the Covenant, between the Old and the New Testament, between the Kremlin and the House of Lords, he had lost his way, and been floundering about ever since. Embedded deep down in him there was something touching and vulnerable and perceptive; at times lovable even. But so overlaid with the bogus certainties of science, and the equally bogus respect, accorded and expected, on account of his wealth and famous name, that it was only rarely apparent. Once when I was going to London he asked me to take over a case of brandy addressed in large letters to him at his English address. In the guard's van where it was put, among the porters who carried it, wherever it was seen or handled, it aroused an attitude of adoration, real or facetious, as though it had been some holy relic—the bones of a saint or a fragment of the True Cross. Even I partook of its glory, momentarily deputising for this Socialist millionaire, this Rabbinical sceptic, this epicurean ascetic, this Wise Man who had followed the wrong star and found his way to the wrong manger—one complete with chef, central heating and a lift. I think of him in the Avenue Marigny dictating innumerable memoranda, as though in the hope that, if only he dictated enough of them, one would say something; on a basis of the philosophical notion that three monkeys tapping away at typewriters must infallibly, if they keep at it long enough, ultimately tap out the Bible. Rothschild, anyway, did not lack for monkeys. After the war I caught glimpses of him at Cambridge, in think-tanks, once in the Weizmann Institute in Tel Aviv, still dictating memoranda.
  • Jimmy Durante, whom I... have never found able to keep me hysterical after the first few hours, is the mad host Schnarzan the Great, and I found him funnier than usual in his rather merciless travesty of the virile Mr. Weissmuller. Charles Butterworth, who, on the hand, can keep me in continual stitches... has seldom been funnier as the multi-millionaire who tears up $1,000 bills to prove it. ("I am the well known multi-millionaire," says he, "See me tear up this S1,000 bill? You gotta be a millionaire to do that") while Polly Moran, as his wife—"My husband is the multiest=millionaire in Tulsa"—has the best role of her career; and metamorphosis into a Femme fatale is gem of purest ray serene.
    • Helen Brown Norden, "The Screen", Vanity Fair (July, 1934) Vo. 42, No. 5, p. 11.
  • Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth.
  • The Millionaire Next Door... examined... currently wealthy people and found out that these are unlikely to lead lavish lives. They... the accumulators... postpone consumption ...[I]t ...costs money to look and behave rich, not to count the time demands of spending money. The moral of the book... the wealthiest are to be found among those less suspected... [T]hose who act and look wealthy subject their net worth to such a drain that they inflict considerable and irreversible damage...
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (2001) Eight: Too Many Millionaires | Double Survivorship Bias | More Experts
  • The first bias [in The Millionaire Next Door] comes from the fact that the rich people selected... are among the lucky monkeys... [T]hey saw only the winners. They make no mention of the "accumulators" who have accumulated the wrong things... There is a way to take care of the bias: Lower the wealth of your average millionaire by, say, 50%... the bias causes the average net worth to be higher by such... in adding the effect of the losers into the pot...
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (2001) Eight: Too Many Millionaires | Double Survivorship Bias | Visibility Winners
  • Though they suffer no restriction of choice, in reality even multi-millionaires soon reach the outer limits of purely personal gratification—which should be some satisfaction to the rest of us.

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