Monday, July 23, 2012

Million Dollar Dreams, Hundred Dollar Nightmares

Could this dude be on to something?  Or is something lost in the translation?

I don't listen to rap music very often.  Well, probably not at all, at least since the 1980's, when rap seemed fun and fresh and not all about people trying to kill each other and pimp their girlfriends.  They lost me at that point.

I guess I also lost interest when it became less about rhythm and the music and more about posturing and screaming obscenities into a microphone and blowing out your sub-woofer.  But I guess that marks me as an old white guy - guilty as charged.

But a reader found this blog by searching on the terms "Million Dollar Dreams, Hundred Dollar Nightmares" which is sort of a lyric by a rap group called "Meek Mill" (if you really want to, you can follow their twit-feed at this link).

It is an interesting phrase, and to me, it probably means something else than it did to the authors:

Billion dollar dreams
And hundred dollar nightmares
Success is in my arm reach
I can see it right there
I just got to grab it
But I'm stuck in traffic
Still on probation but I'm clutchin' on that 'matic
Cops catch me with it, judge gon' give me somethin' tragic
But these haters, they gon' kill me if I don't have it, just pray for me
Money, dreams, comin' now, Homie screamin' wait for me
I'm telling him, hurry up they trying to close this gate on me
Get money or die

We see again, the obsession with the lower classes with money and success, which are illusory for most, and a windfall for a very lucky few.

To me, the phrase is apt, as many folks in this country, even folks making the average or median income in the USA (about $50,000 a year) will earn far more than a million dollars in their lifetimes, and be able to save up that much, in their lifetimes, but choose not to do so.

Why?  Hundred-dollar nightmares.

Perhaps the authors were referring to crack or some other addictive expense in their own culture.  But to me, these "hundred dollar nightmares" are things like Cable TV (about $100 a month) and a smart phone (ditto) or any one of a number of monthly expenses that add up over time and bankrupt most people.

As I noted before, if you put aside $100 a month over 30 years at 7.5% rate of return, it will blossom to $133,385.23 with compound interest.   Set aside a few hundred a month, pay off a mortgage on a reasonable house, over 30 years, and yes, you too can retire a Millionaire.

But of course, that sort of thinking is for "suckas" - right?   The way to get rich is to get rich quick or not get rich at all.

And unfortunately, that is the attitude in many lower-class subcultures.  You have to try for Billionaire, or not try at all.  There is no in-between.  There is no happily ever after unless you become a rap star or a professional athlete.

And even then, those "superstars" spend it all and end up broke.  What ever did happen to M.C. Hammer?

It is sad, but that is what happens to the poor - even after they become wealthy.  They end up poor again.

I hope the Meek Mill are successful and make tons of money - and then go out and not buy bling and Cristal with it.   Instead of blowing it all on an entourage and cheap hookers, may I suggest starting a family with some nice young woman, drinking Cristallino Cava (for $6 a bottle) and then banking the rest and becoming dynastically wealthy instead of just pop-star transient rich.

But alas, I suspect that probably ain't in the cards.