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“Many speak the truth when they say they despise riches, but they mean the riches possessed by others.” -Charles Caleb Colton
I say, Reggie, old chap, be a good fellow and pass the caviar,” said Nigel, after a sip of champagne.
“Certainly, old bean,” replied Reggie, between sips of Chateau Le Moutarde ’83 Premier Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux.
As I watched my two ophthalmologist-friends enjoying a spot of lunch during a recent meeting in Maryland, it occurred to me that times seem pretty good for those who serve mankind by attending to the eyes of our brothers and sisters. But then my perspective has been slightly distorted.
According to a recent report, the U.S. economy has perked up sufficiently to more than reverse the financial setbacks generated by the financial crisis that began a decade ago. The recovery has reached the point that today about one out of every 20 Americans is a millionaire.1
Those of us in Maryland are even better off. According to Phoenix Marketing International, Maryland has more millionaires per capita than any other state.2 The research firm found that 7.7% of households in Maryland have more than $1 million in investible assets, making my state No. 1 in the country. Making this so clear that even we refractive surgeons can understand it, the article goes on to say: “That means 1 in every 13 households [in Maryland] is a millionaire household.”
Connecticut and Hawaii came in second and third place, with 7.3% and 7.25% of millionaire households, respectively.
Millionaires like Nigel and Reggie are literally a dime a dozen here in Maryland, I realized whilst absent-mindedly munching on a few petit fours washed down with Pol Roger.
My brow furrowed as I pondered how rich ophthalmologists came to be almost as numerous as politicians accused of sexual harassment. This revelation regarding Marylanders’ wealth comes at a time when so many of my fellow citizens, politicians, and others openly criticize those who have reached the milestone of millionairehood. Many ophthalmologists are probably a bit embarrassed by the size of their bank accounts.
Driving through the Baltimore streets that evening, it occurred to me that, for ophthalmologists, financial milestones are simply a side effect of having a fun career, a comfortable salary, and not enough free time to spend our paychecks. While some of my ophthalmologist-friends are certainly gifted business people and entrepreneurs, the majority are just regular people, who through working and saving over decades have come to achieve financial security.
We are just regular people, I realized, who feel we are probably doing about average because we compare ourselves with other ophthalmologists and physicians in other specialties. While some rich people might be criticized for being greedy capitalists, we rich Marylander ophthalmologists are just accidental millionaires.
I pulled into my driveway.
“Good evening, sir,” greeted my trusted butler.
“Good evening, Bartholomew,” I replied. “I say, Bartholomew, you don’t think ophthalmologists are greedy capitalists, do you?”
“Absolutely not, sir!” he responded.
“We’re just regular folks, wouldn’t you say?”
“Absolutely, sir,” he replied.
I threw him the keys to the Rolls. “Don’t forget to wax it before putting it away.”