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SATIRE If greed is so good, why can't I afford to be greedy too?


I was studying the Business Review Weekly this week to see if I got a mention: Ramray, Rathbone, Reid, Richter, Roberts, Roche, Roth, Rydge -- but no Riley in the journal's list of Australia's 200 richest. None of my relatives nor kin by default -- the Reillys, Rilleys or O'Rielleys -- got in either. In fact, I don't think I am related to any of the million or so  people in this country who earn more than $100,000 per year (and if I perchance were, I am sure to be the black sheep of their family). Mum never mentioned anything about an extraordinarily rich uncle.

I guess that we Rileys (Reillys, Rilleys or O'Rielleys) don't have a head for business. Take my mater for instance. She's 84, widowed and living alone -- and I'm still sending her cash so that she can keep afloat financially. I keep telling her that you can do a lot with dog's mince, but does she listen?

My guess is that it's in the genes. I never got ahead either. (With such a spendthrift for a mother, is it any wonder?) In fact, if I want to entertain the notion of joining the richest 200 list, I had better get cracking. The total wealth of Australia's top 200 business gods ballooned to $35 billion this year , up from $20.3 billion in 2009.The super rich are doing well -- so well that to qualify for their club I'd have to earn more than $500,000 per year and do it for the next 100 years to get together the $50 million deposit I'd need to apply to join  their ranks.

Do you have any suggestions as to how I could do it? I simply have no idea. My guess is that I'll have to resign myself to being a shitkicker for the rest of my life.

When you look at the figures, it is hard to believe that they'd miss a few hundred thousand if perchance such largesse were to suddenly come my way. Tallied up, private sector wealth in this country comes to around  $7464 billion -- give or take a few billion. Of this Rupert Murdock owns $6 billion and  James Packer who now has $3.4 billion, more than doubled the dough he had on hand a year ago.

And so we go (way) down the list until we get to me and you.

How long this list is and how far it goes down is suggested by the nation's capacity for poorestness.  The number of Australians living  in poverty increased from 3.761 million to 3.857 million  between 2003 and 2006 so that the proportion of Australians living in or near poverty runs at approximately 20%.

And I, dear reader, have spent my life among them. I'm not proud. I admit my penury. But I can't help feeling a touch resentful.  Many on the Top 200 list earn in one minute what I take a week to pull in. And as for my young friends working their butts off for 50% of a middling adult rate : it all seems a bit unfair, don't you think?

In such circumstances, I begrudge these people their  billions. I do. How is it that they're in the money and I'm not? What did they all do to earn it?  And tell me: why doesn't they stop now that they are all so far ahead?

If greed is so good, why can't I afford to be greedy too? Unfortunately, I think I've missed my chance. Maybe it was the wrong sperm -- my Dad was all right for a father, but he wasn't a Packer or a Murdoch. Maybe I should have studied harder, saved more, worked more overtime, stayed off the grog and given up fags earlier. Maybe it just simply wasn't meant to be. Maybe for the likes of me, life wasn't meant to be greedy.

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