Privilege may be defined as a special advantage or prerogative enjoyed by some individuals. The word is used these days as a pejorative. To call someone, "privileged," is tantamount to calling them evil, dangerous, or dishonest.
Privilege is a kind of power, the power to do or enjoy something only those with that power can do or enjoy. There are two kinds of power: political power and economic power. The distinction is usually glossed over as a means of asserting political power over economic power.
Economic power is the power to produce value, to create goods or provide services that others desire and are willing to trade what they have produced for them. The farmer's food, the mechanic's work, the programmer's software, or the secretary's services are the products of those individual's effort and their value is to those who buy the farmer's food, have their automobiles repaired, pay to have the software developed, and employ the services of the secretary.
Political power is the power of threat and destruction. Political power creates nothing of value that anyone would willing trade for. Political power can only confiscate the products and services of those who produce them by the threat of force.
Power And Privilege
Both kinds of power provide those who have that power some level of privilege. Economic power provides those who have it with the privilege of buying whatever they can exchange their products for. Political power provides those who have it with the privilege of having whatever they can take by force from those who have produced what is of value, either directly (as tax collectors for example) or indirectly (as government employees or government subsidized individuals or agencies).
The Privilege Of Economic Power
The word, "privileged," today is used to denigrate anyone who has actually made something of themselves, especially if they are what is called, "rich." There are some who have become rich by means of political power, but most of the rich, especially the very rich, have earned their wealth by means of economic power. In other words, they are wealthy in direct proportion to the value they have produced and made available to the world that without them would not exist.
Unlike those wielding political power, no one is obliged to deal with, or buy the products of, those who earn their wealth by providing products or services they have created. One has no choice about who will teach their children or what they will be required to read in a government school, for example, but one is free to buy and read or not anything available in a public book store.
Freedom And The Economically Privileged
True freedom is being able to live your life without getting anyone else's permission or approval and without anyone else getting in your way or preventing you from living as you choose. It is not the only way to establish one's own freedom, but wealth is perhaps the most common and successful way to achieve one's personal freedom.
Not everyone who is rich is free. One must still choose to be free, but for those who choose to be free, wealth is one of the most powerful means to freedom. When I mention that there are millions of individuals living in this world in total individual freedom, the claim is rejected as impossible. Nevertheless, there are millions of individuals in almost every part of the world who are living their lives just as they choose. They are mostly rich; the economically privileged.
Who Are The Economically Privileged?
There are 46.8 million millionaires in the world. Of those millionaires, 18.6 million live in the United States. I have no idea how many of those millionaires are living their lives as free individuals, (the few I've known personally do), but most of them could if they chose to. What most people do not understand is that the rich are not only free, but the most important and virtuous individuals in the world.
Most millionaires are self-made. "The overwhelming majority (79%) of millionaires in the U.S. did not receive any inheritance at all from their parents or other family members. While one in five millionaires (21%) received some inheritance, only 3% received an inheritance of $1 million or more."
"The majority of millionaires didn't even grow up around a lot of money. Eight out of 10 millionaires come from families at or below middle-income level."
What Kind Of People Are The Free And Privileged?
They are conscientious, hard working, productive, and innovative.
On average, it takes a millionaire 32 years to hit the $1,000,000 mark, dispelling the notion that most get rich quick from a windfall. Eighty percent of current millionaires did not reach $1,000,000 until at least 50 years old. To get there, 86 percent of wealthy people who work full time put in 50 hours or more each week at their career. Since only 20 percent of millionaires actually retire, 80 percent are still working.
[NOTE: See the article, "Are There Really People Who Only Work 40 Hours A Week Or Less And Complain Why They Can't Get Ahead."]
Sixty six percent of millionaires own their own business which they created.
Millionaires Are Your Decent Married Neighbors
You probably wouldn't know most millionaires, which is just the way they want it. They don't flaunt their wealth, they just enjoy it and the freedom it gives them.
Most are well educated. Eighty four percent of them have college degrees but most of their education came after any formal education. Most are life-long learners and autodidacts. Most watch less than one hour of television a day and read at least 30 minutes every day, focused on self education.
Millionaires are frugal with regular savings programs and no mortgages or debt. One in three funded their own college education without debt.
Most millionaires are married with families. Eighty six percent are married, including 65 percent in their first marriage. Only fifty percent of most Americans are married. Less than half of those are first marriages and less than half of all American children are born into a two-parent family.
Are The Rich Privileged?
Yes, the rich are privileged, but it is not a privilege they were born to, or inherited, or because of any ethnic or other collective association, or granted to them by any political or other social authority. The privilege of the rich is the privilege to live life as they choose to live it, because they have earned it, usually at a huge price of time, effort, and overcoming difficulty others were not willing to expend. Far from any social or political advantage, those who make the effort to excel and create almost always have to do it in the face of both political and social resistance.
Every so-called privilege enjoyed by the rich is earned and deserved, every exercise of their privilege can only benefit any others it brings them into association with, because the rich become rich by being the most successful benefactors to others—which is what economic power is.
—27 Millionaire Statistics
—The National Study of Millionaires
—42 Best Millionaire Statistics, Facts & Resources for 2020]