Is it right for a millionaire's kids to work in menial jobs that others might need?

One of the staff at work today mentioned that her boyfriend is looking for work.

“What sort of job does he want?”

“Nothing flash; he just wants to earn his own money and not have to get it from his parents. Maybe retail or a supermarket or something.”

“What do his parents do?”

“They’re accountants, with their own firm. They’re doing really well- big house, nice cars, and they just had a month in Europe skiing or something.”

“I see. Can’t he get a job with them?”

“Oh, he could, but he’d rather earn it himself independently.”

The thought occured that this is very noble of him, but there are rather a lot of people out there who need entry-level jobs at places like McDonalds or wherever to make ends meet, pay the rent, and buy food etc.

On the other hand, it’s great that he as a person wants to earn his own money and not just get it from his parents- even if it’s through working for them.

The edited highlights of this debate: Is it right for a millionaire’s son/daughter to take an “entry-level” job in the interests of “being their own person”, when other people need that job as well, and when said millionaire is prepared to financially support their son/daughter (either by providing a job or simply giving them a credit card)?

I’m honestly completely ambivalent on the whole thing- on one hand, I think people should be encouraged to be independent, responisble adults- but on the other hand, the job being filled by our hypothetical Rich Parents’ Son/Daughter is a job that’s now unavailable to someone who actually needs it to survive.


God bless 'em.

If they took a job at DaddyFirm, people would line up to accuse them of sucking on the teat; of taking a glorified “allowance.”

Now, they try to get a “real” job, and that’s not cool either?

While it’s not the worst situation to be in, if I were a rich kid and had to choose between those two options, I htink it’d be understandable if I felt a little Catch-22.
If a kid wants to make his own way, the right response is to pat him on the back and buy him a beer.

Seems to me that the kid has real needs, no less than the other people you describe.

I wonder if this isn’t a skewed debate based on country of origin. How’s the unemployment rate there in Australia? What’s the normal availability of this type of entry-level job?

Strictly speaking, once the kid is adult he is NOT entitled to any of his parents’ money (although most parents don’t throw the kids out with absolutely nothing). He needs an income just as much as anyone else, and his family origins should not be used against him.

Frankly, I’d rather see a millionaire’s kid bagging groceries or sorting mail at the post office for some real-life experience and work than the kid winding up like that Paris Hilton bimbo, who is a poster child for why people shouldn’t be given too much money before they grow up and learn about things like following the rules and making priorities.

Someone who does a productive job is not “taking” a job from someone else. Jobs aren’t a zero sum matter; doing jobs adds productivity to the economy and makes the economy better and helps to create more jobs.

If Rich Kid does a job for his parents then either 1. That job was purely made up just to pay him and serves no purpose, or 2. It’s a productive job that, logically, someone else could have done too and therefore he’s “taking a job away” from someone there, too. But it doesn’t matter, because real jobs benefit everyone by being done.

Should we encourage individual work ethic or entitlement mentalities?

I see no trouble at all deciding which is more appropriate, and which results in a larger net benenfit to society. Individual work ethic creates jobs. The notion that there is a finite amount of jobs for which we are all competing is wrong.

Take a rich kid, teach her a work ethic, and she’ll build more wealth and jobs. Start her out at McDonald’s and when she is of age she’ll create a whole new franchise employing hundreds. Give her a sense of entitlement and when she is of age her major accomplishment will be getting her photo of ‘going commando’ embedded in the gossip columns on the Internet.

And sometimes it’s not a choice. From my own history:

My mother, when she wasn’t retired, had a series of high-power, high-money gigs in Washington, DC including one of the top positions on Capitol Hill that didn’t require election and one of the Managing Directors for one of the big four consulting firms. Woot for her.

When I and my pals graduated college 20 or so years ago mom found places for five or six of them (those she’d gotten to know). She made a few calls and mentioned them for entry-level jobs and such. Good on her, right?

Not me. To me she said ‘I’m charging you $50/week rent to stay in the house. You’re my son…go take care of yourself.’

I did, over time, but there was a solid year or more of waiting tables and bike courier and such before I landed my first real job.

So it’s not always a voluntary thing. I couldn’t have worked for either of my parents if I’d wanted to. They may not be millionaires (in truth I’ve no idea) but that door was closed before I could think to open it.

I don’t know what Australia is like, but in the United States there’s no shortage of entry-level jobs. There’s one of the “interstate malls” not too far from where I live, basically sort of like a strip mall that exploded about ten times over and squats by an interstate exit, with nothing else around it.

Anytime I go over there to visit Best Buy/Home Depot/et cetera just about every fast food place there has a notice up on their big advertising sign that says “Now Hiring”, usually Best Buy, Home Depot, Radio Shack etc over there have 'Now Hiring" signs on the front door.

Unemployment doesn’t exist because there’s no jobs, it primarily exists because if you’re at a point in your life where you can meaningfully command a salary in the large range of $40,000-100,000 (ie roughly the middle class range, dependent on area), you aren’t going to burger flip while trying to find a new position. You’re either going to live off your savings, or possibly a severance package from your previous job, or you’re going to collect unemployment.

It opens up a well paid position in his father’s business - since the son is not taking it.

If the guy is looking for a pretty low level retail position then he would be of little use in his parents accountancy practise.

Personally I’m all in favour of people getting a taste of ‘real life’.

A long time ago a friend of mine pointed out :-

’ since it seems to be necessary to have a certain proportion of the work force unemployed, it is rather odd that people who don’t enjoy working should work, while people who want to work have to be unemployed - and looked down on. Wouldn’t it be better all round if the unemployed were people who did not want to work ?’

exactly what I came here to say. Whatever job he was going to get with daddy, is now open to John Doe. It might not be the same John Doe who lost the job at McD’s to rich kid, but that just shifts around until the all have their jobs.

In much of the country, there’s no shortage of low paying retail jobs. In my city, you can find a minimum wage job in an afternoon.

But I agree it’s not a zero sum game. I suspect that people who work and do their jobs well create more jobs for other people.

Exactly what I came here to say. I don’t know where people get the idea that one person’s employment = another person’s unemployment. Anyone who does productive work creates jobs, either directly or indirectly.

Hell, yes. If a person looks hard enough, they can pretty much land an entry level job anywhere. I’m all for children of rich parents (especially if their parents worked their way to the top) starting at the same place their parents did.

If the OP doesn’t mind a closely related hijack, since everyone seems to be in agreement: What about merit based scholarships? My school PTA offers a number of $500/scholarships each year. We have kids from all over the economic spectrum at my school–from “can write 40K/year checks to Vandy without even flinching” rich to student-job-pays-family-bills poor. Most of the scholarships each year go to rich kids, even though great pains are taken to keep the selection process as unbiased as possible–all outside judges, names erased off applications, all that. But the simple fact is that a child of privledge typically has a much more impressive resume, having had more oportunities, and a much better sense of how to spin things on an application so that they look erudite, well-rounded, all that.

Now then, these are merit based scholarships. There are many other need-based programs out there. My question is if people think it’s morally wrong for a kid to compete for one of these things? It seems like they shouldn’t have to deny themselves recognition (and these kids have generally worked and worked hard in HS–they are privledged, but that doesn’t mean spoiled), but on the other hand, they are stopping some other kid for whom that $500 could make a real difference. Does it matter if they take the money? I’ve known more than a few who donated the cash back . . . which means they didn’t take it, but it just goes into the pool for another year, for maybe another rich kid to win. I am really torn on this.

In terms of jobs, I doubt anyone can put the counter-argument better than this -

I’d say no, because the scholarship is supposed to be merit-based.

You have a good point about the enriched background of rich kids vs. poor ones, but that is (IMO) largely negated by the fact that most children from intact families with involved parents who value education and hard work have the same ‘advantage’.

Scholarships which present as a reward for achievement should be based on achievement; otherwise it is a bait-and-switch. You can set up scholarships based on both achievement and need, but then it is a balancing act between the two. Merit scholarships going to rich kids is one side of the dilemma - those who qualify on merit often don’t have the need. The other side happens when you have a bunch of kids who need it, but don’t merit it based on their achievements.

Another factor is that merit-based scholarships are supposed to be at least partially for the benefit of society - we have people being educated in useful skill sets, and thus adding their productivity to the economy. The economy doesn’t make any distinction between an engineer whose parents are poor vs. one whose parents are multi-millionaires - both (all other things being equal) are adding to the economy by providing engineering skills. And if, in theory, academic achievement correlates to higher productivity, then those who need it more but deserve it less (based on achievement) should not receive the scholarships.

Maybe the C student is the child of a single mother who works as a waitress, whereas the A student has parents who are both doctors. Assuming that, on average, A students produce more benefit to the rest of us, given the same scholarship opportunities, then the A student is the one to encourage and reward more than Mr. Average.


The case mentioned in the OP needs the job. He needs it for freedom rather than to eat, if you want, but he still needs it.

When I was in high school, about half of my classmates would get paid for menial jobs; about half would do the same job without pay because “we didn’t need it” according to the people roping us into those jobs.

Q: Which ones had more money available? A: the ones who weren’t from “good families.”

I had a need-based scholarship in college. It’s from my local government, anybody from my province who studies more than 90km away from home gets it. The Secretary/Admissions Officer of the school happened to be the Calc I and II teacher. After finding out in my Thesis defense that I was my maternal gramps’ granddaughter (that Gramps had been asking him about for years and he just couldn’t “place”) he was so stunned that he admitted that those times he’d flunked me less than a 5% from pass had been because my fancy lastname made him thing my scholarship came from Dad lying on his taxes - those exams I had to retake several times were actually good enough for Bs :smack: That notinthePit’s prejudices cost me two years!

Given that Dad was a government worker, lying on his taxes would have required more creativity than a Greco painting.

I’ve told my bosses at my slightly above menial job that they should NEVER hire someone who is there just for shits and giggles, to have a “hobby” while the kids are at school, anyone slumming, anything other than someone needing a job to survive. No cite, and this has nothing to do with preventing others from getting a job they need- I am of the opinion that someone that really needs the job is more likely to last more than six months, more likely to be there on time every day, etc.