EDIT: Owing to thoughtful and constructive discussion in the comments (one of my favorite G+ features) my take on this has softened and gained nuance. Thanks to everyone who helped me hash out my feelings on this.

He is the latest celebrity multi-millionaire to cut his kids out of his will — Money documented a long list of the ultra-rich who won’t pass along fortunes to their children, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, George Lucas, and Sting.

Rich people tend to be shitheads, film at 11.

I made the mistake of looking at Facebook yesterday, and this popped up in my feed. The comments were, of course, filled with praise — Ramsay is “teaching his kids a lesson” and making sure they’re not “spoiled” — all from people who I’m pretty sure will be lucky if they have enough money to retire on, much less have much of anything to leave to their kids.

I’m totally mystified by this. I would kill to leave my son a fortune, allowing him to bypass the rigged, bullshit capitalist system that most of us work within. Isn’t the whole point of parenting to make sure your kids start life better off than you did? Is there really any virtue in perpetuating a never-ending cycle of financial struggle?

The idea that the only way to teach your child financial responsibility is to force them to live through some Horatio-Alger-induced gauntlet of misery is complete horseshit. The big names mentioned in this article are privileged asshats buying into the same, shitty, bootstrap-ing mythology that the fascist shitstains running their respective nations use to ensure financial disparity.

My mom basically died a pauper. The only thing of value she left behind was her house — paid for*, but often nearly lost due to her inability to pay property taxes, dilapidated, and severely devalued by the 2008 collapse. If we’ll ever be able to get even $90k out of that house, we’ll be lucky, and all of that money will be going to the medical and survival needs of some of my other family. I.e., no one is profiting here.

Would anyone have been singing my mom’s praises if she’d vaporized that asset and left behind nothing? If she’d denied her descendants even that meager gift, just because hey, she started with nothing back when she first immigrated to the US, so why shouldn’t others face the same, character-building adversity? Give me a break.

This is bald-faced privilege, and it makes me sick. It’s a philosophical luxury available only to those who’ve forgotten (or never knew) what day-to-day life is like for most people. Ramsay proudly talks about his life asa poor kid living on a council estate with an alcoholic father — seriously, does he drink heavily and beat his kids, too? You know, to “build character”? Would we admire him if he did?

It’s likewise nauseating when I see struggling middle-class people consider this laudable behavior. It’s the same bullshit American Billionaire mythology that got Drumpf elected.

(And let’s not even get into the anecdotes about Ramsay making his kids fly coach while he flies first class, teaching nothing more than the idea that there are haves and have-nots, and enjoying a pleasant travel experience is something on certain people “deserve”.)

Fuck you, Gordon Ramsay. I hope your kids eventually have you declared incompetent and then re-write your will.

* Paid too much for, as she got conned; did I mention that? Maybe if she had grown up with money and knew how to manage it…

http://time.com/money/4734331/gordon-ramsay-net-worth-will-family-fortune-kids/

108 thoughts on “EDIT: Owing to thoughtful and constructive discussion in the comments (one of my favorite G+ features) my take on…

  1. This is actually on my mind a lot. I’ve moved into a totally different income bracket than my parents were in. Of course I want to give my future kids the best possible life, but it also makes me realize that will make my kids very different from me in some positive ways but almost assuredly in some negative ways as well. When you reach the level of wealth he’s at I’m sure it’s even more exaggerated. We can think of plenty of examples of “affluenza” without trying too hard.

    I see where he’s coming from, is all.

  2. I think the other problem with this is that it assumes that money is all you inherit from a rich parent, when actually the social and cultural capital is probably more valuable than the economic capital. Bill Gates, supposedly, is limiting the amount of money his kids will get from him, to which I say I would trade all the money I’ll ever make to have been raised Bill Gates’ kid. That seems way more valuable than any money for a variety of reasons.

  3. Bret Gillan I worry about how I raise my son, too, as he already has a lot more than I did as a kid.

    But… so what? Is there really no way to teach him restraint other than forcing him to relive my childhood? That’s nonsensical.

    How about these rich people show how wealth can be a force for good, instead of just path to luxury and decadence? Why the fuck isn’t Ramsay flying with his kids in coach and donating the money he would have spent on his and his wife’s first-class tickets to some charity for, gee, I dunno, poor kids living on council estates?

    That would be a powerful lesson.

  4. my childhood? That’s nonsensical. How about these rich people show how wealth can be a force for good, instead of just path to luxury and decadence? Why the fuck isn’t Ramsay flying with his kids in coach and donating the money he would have spent on his and his wife’s first-class tickets to some charity for, gee, I dunno, poor kids living on council estates? That would be a powerful lesson.]]>

  5. I think it’s part of a wider fetishization people have of being hard on your kids, or on others more broadly. There is something to that: adversity can create interesting things. But it can also traumatize people. There seems to be this understanding that being hard on your kids (or your employees, or your team, or your students, etc.) means that you are doing them a favor. I think it CAN mean that, depending on how, but doesn’t inherently mean that.

    I see this ALL THE TIME in my job. There’s a lot of professors who seem to equate being difficult and punitive with being a good teacher, sometimes in a near 1:1 correlation. But like… that’s not true. I had really hard professors who were great, and really hard professors who I learned nothing from. I had really easy professors who have dramatically shaped me in amazing ways, and really easy professors that I learned nothing from. Adversity is one tool among many, and fetishizing it, whether as a parent or any kind of authority figure, seems like a cognitive short circuit to me.

  6. I take Todd Nicholas’s comment in another direction. Since the father’s wealth and power has already guaranteed the children a stable, enriched start on life, they don’t also need the money.

    I feel the same way about the (modest) wealth my family has in various pockets. I’ve already benefited enough from it over the long years I lived beneath it. When the time comes, if my family decides it should go to others who need it more, I support that. It isn’t trying to be “hard” on me when I already had a significant payout from it.

  7. already guaranteed the children a stable, enriched start on life, they don’t also need the money. I feel the same way about the (modest) wealth my family has in various pockets. I’ve already benefited enough from it over the long years I lived beneath it. When the time comes, if my family decides it should go to others who need it more, I support that. It isn’t trying to be “hard” on me when I already had a significant payout from it.]]>

  8. Jason Corley I get what you’re saying, but I also then question:

    1) Why is Ramsay amassing a fortune in the first place? Why isn’t he donating all the excess right now and living a frugal life with his family? Why stockpile it so his kids can see it exists, and then tell them that they will get none of it? He obviously sees value in having wealth (you can fly first class!), so why not pass on that value?

    2 ) How does he know what his kids will or won’t need once he’s gone? What if they only benefit marginally from his name (e.g., none of them go on to become celebrity chefs), and then, say, get cancer and need expensive treatment? What if they pursue unprofitable careers (e.g., social workers)? Wouldn’t they be better able to do that with a healthy trust fund?

  9. right now and living a frugal life with his family? Why stockpile it so his kids can see it exists, and then tell them that they will get none of it? He obviously sees value in having wealth (you can fly first class!), so why not pass on that value? 2 ) How does he know what his kids will or won’t need once he’s gone? What if they only benefit marginally from his name (e.g., none of them go on to become celebrity chefs), and then, say, get cancer and need expensive treatment? What if they pursue unprofitable careers (e.g., social workers)? Wouldn’t they be better able to do that with a healthy trust fund?]]>

  10. I’m just not into taking shots at a guy who’s trying to do right for his kids, even if he’s a rich asshole. All parents try, all parents fuck up. He’s not throwing them into a wolf pit 300 style, and I am certain they will all live comfortable lives. Getting angry at and dissecting the actions of celebrities is gossip rag fodder, man.

  11. Bret Gillan Sure, I’m flailing on the Interwebs about rich people I don’t know; definitely questionable use of my time.

    But I do think the idea this represents is rant-worthy, as is the mythology that the people I saw lauding him were buying into. I’m serious when I say this is exactly the same ideology Republicans use when they say dumb shit about “How can you demand healthcare when you have one o’ them shiny new iPhones, huh? HUH?!?”

    I mean, fuck: “We didn’t have penicillin when I was a wee lad, and I turned out fine! NO MEDICINE FOR YOU!” No one would buy into that.

  12. idea this represents is rant-worthy, as is the mythology that the people I saw lauding him were buying into. I’m serious when I say this is exactly the same ideology Republicans use when they say dumb shit about “How can you demand healthcare when you have one o’ them shiny new iPhones, huh? HUH?!?” I mean, fuck: “We didn’t have penicillin when I was a wee lad, and I turned out fine! NO MEDICINE FOR YOU!” No one would buy into that.]]>

  13. Jason Corley Then why not completely avoid any possibility of regret and simply pass on your wealth to your kids?

    There is no logic to this course of action that I can see. None. It’s based on the “cognitive short circuit” Todd coined above.

  14. I haven’t read the article, just the commentary here. Maybe I’m weird, but I’m having a hard time tracking what your argument is here. If his actual behavior (not much money going to kids) tracks with what you’d like public policy to be for everyone (not much inheritance), it seems weird that you find him so criticism-worthy.

  15. Mark Delsing Don’t you think that might create some regret as well? My parents have their own priorities in life. My happiness is high up on the list but there’s no reason I’m entitled for it to be higher than everything else.

  16. Dan Maruschak The surface reading is that NO money is going to his kids.

    The ideal “inheritance tax bracket” I;d put him in is upwards of 90%, as even that steep rate still leaves his kids with millions. I would never slap that rate on, say, my mom leaving me her $90k house.

  17. Folks, let me ask: What’s the threshold here? Because there obviously seems to be a threshold — namely, the amount of wealth we need to be talking about where it’s okay to deny kids an inheritance.

    E.g., if we’re talking about $500,000, which could allow someone to live happily for a long time, maybe invest, and be able to focus solely on writing their novel — is that okay? Or should they have to get a job and write in their off hours, maybe an hour a day after the kids are asleep, because it’ll “build character”? Or, fuck the novel, maybe just go to college without being in debt for the rest of their life. Is that okay?

  18. Mark Delsing Well, by that logic, then, it shouldn’t matter to anyone if all wealth was simply destroyed at death. After all, the person who stored it up isn’t alive to feel happiness or unhappiness. Just abolish inheritance entirely if that’s your position!

    What I mean is the in-life happiness of those who consider the post-life disposition of their material goods might be better served by arranging it according to priorities other than strictly and inerrantly for the benefit of their children. I don’t see that as inherently cruel – it might be, but in such cases it’s likely to be a wider pattern of cruelty.

    For example, my wife’s definitely not getting a penny from her parents when they go, but that’s because they’re abusive shits who have always treated her poorly.

    By contrast, if my father says “I’ve decided to leave the $500 in my bank account to the National Parks I’ve explored and enjoyed for all twenty years of my retirement”, I will totally celebrate that decision because that’s an important part of my father’s life and an expression of his priorities that I respect. I was never neglected or mistreated by him, he gave me all the benefit of what little money he had when I was being raised, what wrong would be done to me by my father’s decision? By your logic, if he leaves me $499 and the National Park Service $1, I’ve been harmed; that $1 ought be mine, it would not be indecorous for me to demand it as rightfully mine.

    The nice thing about my position is that it applies to people who die with $5 in their pocket as much as those with $5 million. You just won’t see a camera pointed at anyone in my family when we die.

  19. wrong would be done to me by my father’s decision? By your logic, if he leaves me $499 and the National Park Service $1, I’ve been harmed; that $1 ought be mine, it would not be indecorous for me to demand it as rightfully mine. The nice thing about my position is that it applies to people who die with $5 in their pocket as much as those with $5 million. You just won’t see a camera pointed at anyone in my family when we die.]]>

  20. Nothing shithead about this. Inheritance of concentrated wealth is a massive problem, and I’m glad many newly rich people understand that and don’t want their heirs to become new spoiled aristocracy.

    Of course you want your kids to do well, but we’re not talking about a hundred grand, we’re talking many, many millions. Nobody should automatically be entitled to that kind of wealth merely through virtue of their birth. If I was a billionaire, I wouldn’t let my kids inherit more than a million each, and possibly quite a bit less.

    Ramsay’s kids have nothing to complain about (unless he was a terrible dad; his temper seems pretty awful).

  21. Jason Corley I don’t think you’re accurately representing my logic.

    As a parent, your job is to take care of your kids as best you can. Part of that care can take the form of an inheritance. In an ideal world, you are leaving behind something that will help them live better lives.

    Leaving your kids nothing because you think it will build character is, IMO, fucking stupid. To me, it’s frivolous and illogical, a luxury most people can’t afford.

    Beyond that, we’re in the realm of debatable situations. Your dad leaving his last $500 to the park service because it means something to him is fine if you’re otherwise doing well, but not so nice if you’re homeless and hungry.

    I guess I’m sort of baffled people are fighting me on this. I cannot for the life of me imagine wanting to force my son to face the same obstacles I did.

  22. nothing because you think it will build character is, IMO, fucking stupid. To me, it’s frivolous and illogical, a luxury most people can’t afford. Beyond that, we’re in the realm of debatable situations. Your dad leaving his last $500 to the park service because it means something to him is fine if you’re otherwise doing well, but not so nice if you’re homeless and hungry. I guess I’m sort of baffled people are fighting me on this. I cannot for the life of me imagine wanting to force my son to face the same obstacles I did.]]>

  23. Mark Delsing Certainly it can take the form of an inheritance, but it need not always do so, in my view.

    If I were homeless and sick, he wouldn’t have $500 to leave to the Park Service, my father would already have spent it on me! But the children in this news story don’t look homeless and sick to me. Like me, they seem to have reaped at least a full bounty of their parents’ resources already.

  24. can take the form of an inheritance, but it need not always do so, in my view. If I were homeless and sick, he wouldn’t have $500 to leave to the Park Service, my father would already have spent it on me! But the children in this news story don’t look homeless and sick to me. Like me, they seem to have reaped at least a full bounty of their parents’ resources already.]]>

  25. I don’t think his kids are homeless and hungry, though. My impression is that he wants them to be middle class, not poor or disgustingly rich. Though the bit about travelling separate from his kids is certainly odd.

  26. Mark Delsing but your son won’t face the same obstacles, because he was raised by you.

    Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing an estate cap, because money gets weird at a certain point and concentration of wealth is legit problematic. Just because nobody wants to name that point doesn’t mean it’s untrue.

    Otoh the state telling you “$500k, tops” is a whole other thing than Ramsay saying “you don’t need my money to succeed at life.”

  27. won’t face the same obstacles, because he was raised by you. Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing an estate cap, because money gets weird at a certain point and concentration of wealth is legit problematic. Just because nobody wants to name that point doesn’t mean it’s untrue. Otoh the state telling you “$500k, tops” is a whole other thing than Ramsay saying “you don’t need my money to succeed at life.”]]>

  28. Paul Beakley True, but there’s some things that are out of my control (e.g., the economy), so I can’t necessarily release him from a life of wage-slavery solely with my good parenting. And “I had to work shit jobs and give up my dreams, so you do, too” does not seem like good parenting to me, absent some more context.

  29. “As a parent, your job is to take care of your kids as best you can.”

    Philosophical question: Is this the same thing as giving them as much money as you can?

    If Gordon Ramsay said “As a parent, your job is to raise your kid to the point where they’re able to take care of themselves”, would you disagree with him?

    “not so nice if you’re homeless and hungry.”

    What do you think the odds are that Gordon Ramsay’s children will be homeless and hungry at the time of their father’s death? How would that compare to the average citizen of the UK’s chances of that fate?

  30. “As a parent, your job is to take care of your kids as best you can.” Philosophical question: Is this the same thing as giving them as much money as you can? If Gordon Ramsay said “As a parent, your job is to raise your kid to the point where they’re able to take care of themselves”, would you disagree with him? “not so nice if you’re homeless and hungry.” What do you think the odds are that Gordon Ramsay’s children will be homeless and hungry at the time of their father’s death? How would that compare to the average citizen of the UK’s chances of that fate?]]>

  31. Mark Delsing That’s up to them! Maybe the kids are greedy and the parent is gullible, so the bar is very high. Or maybe the kids are self-effacing and the parent is clueless so the bar is very low. But under neither circumstance is it morally wrong for the decision to be made that it’s good enough.

  32. Maybe not your parenting, no. And not because you’re a bad parent!

    Interesting story, maybe relevant.

    I’ve got some good friends that I sensed came from money. Didn’t work, lots of schooling, kind of homebodies, and occasionally super weird about surprising things.

    Well so they admitted to me, some years into our relationship, that the wife is a DuPont. An actual heiress. There are many of them in the family but billions of dollars divided dozens of ways is still fuck-off rich.

    I’m close to the bottom of the list of folks who might say “oh boo hoo poor rich people,” but they were legit weird. Like, pull back the covers and they were incapable of surviving in the world on their own. And she had been reduced to the role of broodmare. The couple partook of what is apparently a wide ranging subculture of therapists, lawyers and coaches who exist so these people don’t go crazy, suicidal, or otherwise derail.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the case for withholding inheritance is different at the sub-million level and the New Aristocracy level. I’m quite sure Ramsay has seen the little psycho shits who inherit real money and crash their 16th birthday Ferraris because they’re bored.

  33. your parenting, no. And not because you’re a bad parent! Interesting story, maybe relevant. I’ve got some good friends that I sensed came from money. Didn’t work, lots of schooling, kind of homebodies, and occasionally super weird about surprising things. Well so they admitted to me, some years into our relationship, that the wife is a DuPont. An actual heiress. There are many of them in the family but billions of dollars divided dozens of ways is still fuck-off rich. I’m close to the bottom of the list of folks who might say “oh boo hoo poor rich people,” but they were legit weird. Like, pull back the covers and they were incapable of surviving in the world on their own. And she had been reduced to the role of broodmare. The couple partook of what is apparently a wide ranging subculture of therapists, lawyers and coaches who exist so these people don’t go crazy, suicidal, or otherwise derail. I guess what I’m saying is that the case for withholding inheritance is different at the sub-million level and the New Aristocracy level. I’m quite sure Ramsay has seen the little psycho shits who inherit real money and crash their 16th birthday Ferraris because they’re bored.]]>

  34. “As a parent, your job is to take care of your kids as best you can.”

    I’m going to steal the same quote as Dan, but

    It looks to me like that’s what he’s trying to do. You just disagree on what’s more important – material wealth vs. self-sufficiency and other possible moral and personal failings that he believes accompanies having all your wealth given to you.

    He’s not doing this just to be an asshole. He has their best interests as human beings in mind, and thinks there’s more important things than money.

    I’m not sure this is the best way of doing it. You’re convinced it’s not, but I think you have no way of knowing and none of us will until he’s dead and we could evaluate how his children are doing (which is intrusive and weird). In the meantime, he’s doing the best he can.

  35. Bret Gillan As usual, you are being a more thoughtful and considerate person than I am. 😊

    You absolutely have a point. Unfortunately, I’m a class warrior, and so I both have little sympathy for Ramsay and can’t imagine not passing on this kind of money to my boy. I get that Ramsay sees his decision as “good hard slog,” tough-love parenting, but I can’t help but see it as a kind of decadence.

  36. Paul Beakley I’m all for seizing the wealth from New Aristocrats.

    Isn’t there some middle ground between Ferrari-crashing-teen and start-over-again-teen though? Are rich people incapable of teaching their offspring to be responsible people?

    Again, I guess there’s some threshold.

  37. Paul Beakley No, I get that; — the social and cultural capital Todd mentioned early on (plus existing assets the kid would already own).

    Something about the underlying principle here just rubs me the wrong way.

  38. Mark Delsing oh I feel you, I really do.

    Filed under “temporarily embarrassed millionaires,” a semi-buzzed story of my youth: my parents were very much of the bootstrap mentality, which I think is a direct descendent of the American myth itself. And it’s fed to all the classes alike! It makes the lowest classes hate themselves, it makes the middle classes resent the lower classes, and it justifies and flatters the upper classes.

    They told me when high school started “we’re not buying you a car and we’re not paying for your education, because we don’t think you’ll value things that are just given to you.” Which…maybe true. Maybe! Right? So I started at lower-middle-class, slipped into straight-up homelessness for a while (but when you’re temporarily embarrassed, that’s called couch surfing), and learned base cunning. I don’t know that I would have gotten that if I’d been comfortably ensconced in a dorm room somewhere with a car that would let me drive to a better job. Was base cunning the best I could have done for myself? No idea.

    But that exact same lesson, that you won’t value the things that are just given to you, carries such a different meaning when you’re coming from the upper classes, even the upper-middle classes, where in fact you probably don’t value the things you’ve been given because you have no other context. But being raised by hustlers who’d grown tired of their lifelong temporary embarrassment? Getting nothing just drove home the embarrassment.

    tldr Gordon Ramsay’s life has absolutely no bearing on (y)ours, what’s right for you and yours isn’t the same, parenting is hard and we’ll all fuck it up. Maybe, possibly, the Ramsay kids will do poorly under his plan. Fingers crossed, right?

  39. couch surfing), and learned base cunning. I don’t know that I would have gotten that if I’d been comfortably ensconced in a dorm room somewhere with a car that would let me drive to a better job. Was base cunning the best I could have done for myself? No idea. But that exact same lesson, that you won’t value the things that are just given to you, carries such a different meaning when you’re coming from the upper classes, even the upper-middle classes, where in fact you probably don’t value the things you’ve been given because you have no other context. But being raised by hustlers who’d grown tired of their lifelong temporary embarrassment? Getting nothing just drove home the embarrassment. tldr Gordon Ramsay’s life has absolutely no bearing on (y)ours, what’s right for you and yours isn’t the same, parenting is hard and we’ll all fuck it up. Maybe, possibly, the Ramsay kids will do poorly under his plan. Fingers crossed, right?]]>

  40. I guess, fundamentally, this is about envy; whether to distribute my millions to my son is a problem I’d love to have.

    And, yeah, barring misadventure, by the time Ramsay/Lucas/Asshole-X dies, their kids will be grown adults and probably quite wealthy in their own right. So, sure, give all of those millions to some worthy cause.

    I guess I’m a sucker for having exactly the reaction that Time magazine probably wanted me to have with their headline.

  41. They get such advantage from having a rich family that they really don’t need the money.
    Struggle is what makes good humans. Not affluence.

    Have you read Andrew Carnegie?
    “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.”
    “There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else.”

  42. When I was at university in about 1996, the father of a young woman in my class won $9 mill in the lottery. He gave each of his six kids a million bucks. I never found out how that all ended up, though.

  43. What’s funny is Donald Trump started with 25-30 million.

    Also, I am responsible for a 19yo, a 16yo, a 12yo and partially for an 8yo and a 6yo. Almost all kids are retarded – they have to grow it of it.

  44. Ray Case Drumpf’s dad was a racist asshole who took advantage of people. I am not. My boy would be fine. There’s no way I’d pass up that kind of opportunity for him.

    And, seriously, I’ll take the risk he might grow up to be douchey in exchange for that opportunity. I would be insane not to.

  45. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t be worried about “douchey”, I’d be worried about sociopathic. And I mean, I don’t know theres some causal connection, but the people I’ve met worth 10M+ have struck me as barely human and friends who’ve described billionaires they’ve met make them sound really weird. I wouldn’t wish that on my kids for anything. And there’s a big jump between giving them the cash to dodge the same obstacles I had to contend with giving them millions of dollars.

  46. sociopathic. And I mean, I don’t know theres some causal connection, but the people I’ve met worth 10M+ have struck me as barely human and friends who’ve described billionaires they’ve met make them sound really weird. I wouldn’t wish that on my kids for anything. And there’s a big jump between giving them the cash to dodge the same obstacles I had to contend with giving them millions of dollars.]]>

  47. For sure — thus my comment about the causal link. But I wouldn’t take the chance when I could easily enough craft a trust that would prevent them from needing to “live through some Horatio-Alger-induced gauntlet of misery” but also help them retain their humanity.

    I also don’t think Mark’s bad for taking a different stance (though I suppose I would if he actually had $100M).