Old Money: In Their Own Words

I’ve read your book, and I have mixed emotions about it.

In some respects I feel like you’ve pulled back the curtain and explained a little too much to people who might use the information to pose and climb. At other moments, I feel like you’ve advocated for us, stating our case without the silliness of most pop culture products.

So this isn’t a full endorsement, only an amendment. You asked me about my life the other day and if I’d share some insights. I had never really thought of it. Now, as I reflect, I can only summarize. I’m too close to it.

Our lives are defined by rituals, by behavior that is appropriate, by duty, and by optimism. That’s what really separates us from other people. We lead structured lives. We attend school from a certain age to a certain age. We take a flyer between graduation and starting a career. We all read many of the same books. We travel. We marry later, and less often. We have annual family gatherings. We’re slow with new friends.

We dress a particular way for a particular event or activity. We adhere to a set of rules. People are polite and punctual. This makes socializing easier for everyone. People know what to expect and what’s expected. Call it boring if you want, but I’ve been at parties where people show up whenever they like, dress however they like, and say whatever they like. It’s not fun.

There are some things we want to do, and we do them. More often, there are things that we know we need to do or should do, and we do them. That’s the responsibility of being born in this position. That’s the line we walk.

We must remain optimistic, even in light of current events. We don’t associate with pessimistic people. Progress will be made, even in the most adverse of circumstances. I would venture to say, probably the best things humans accomplish are done during challenging times. We rise to the occasion. We look for the best. It’s the only way to live.

My father’s side of the family is Hudson River Valley. My mother’s side is French, the faded aristocracy that doesn’t mean anything anymore unless you’re in a particular region there.

We are unique individuals, but as a class we share a common understanding and perspective. If someone aspires to join the ranks, I have no suggestions. Education, hard work, contributions to the public welfare and a good marriage will start things. Having children who learn early what is expected will be essential. But it’s three or four generations before you know if it’s held, and you aren’t usually around to see it.

You can only hope. That’s the rub.

23 thoughts on “Old Money: In Their Own Words

  1. Byron, This really is one of your best posts. Truly. Seems odd that you would need to explain this a second time. Just a thought, but I can’t help but wonder if this is just a bit more of a challenge for some Americans to understand. This isn’t suggested as a snobbery, it is just a thought. In the UK and other constitutional monarchies like Canada, New Zealand and Australia, I cannot help but think these things are just understood a bit more and at an early age. It is a tradition here. Canadians are noted for their frugality. Also, money does not necessarily denote class here. Not sure if that is true in all of America. The American Kardashian family comes to mind. Here in Canada, we do not have your Kardashians, but we did just have the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge back in Canada last week, for a very successful week long tour of British Columbia and the Yukon. And they brought the children! Princess Charlotte wore a recycled sweater of Prince George’s. It seemed perfectly normal for us. They were.great fun.

    1. Thank you, Michael. It was a great post (Merci, RFG). I’m extremely grateful to all the OMGs who’ve come forward to contribute.

      I agree with you that Canadian culture is different from American culture. We don’t have an older, European culture as a reference point. One of my European friends once referred to America, without malice, as “a teenager country”. We are, comparatively, young, and we often equate money with social status.

      My hope is that we can mature and still maintain our optimism and generosity. I really appreciate your perspective on Old Money as it relates to our two close, but sometimes very different, countries. A diplomat and a scholar! – BGT

  2. “…behavior that is appropriate, by duty, and by optimism. …there are things that we know we need to do or should do, and we do them. … We rise to the occasion. We look for the best. … Education, hard work, contributions to the public welfare and a good marriage…”

    Faith, hope, charity, prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. A simple formula for a life everyone wants but few are willing to work towards.

  3. I am from the Hudson River Valley too. I have been educated in the best schools Westchester County has to offer and I am most grateful. Your education is not just credentialising you for gainful employment, it also shapes who you are and how you speak. I have been educated alongside some of the most wonderful Old Money families and learned valuable life lessons that have shaped my character. I am a little perplexed at the marriage later comments. I know it is a practice listed in the OMB, but I believe the value should be for a long marriage not following a stereotype about marrying young. I was married relatively young (27) and my wife was 22. Like any other aspect of intelligent living you must strike while the iron is hot. If I didn’t marry young then we would not have had our child(and one on the way) when we did. I also would also be paying a single payers tax rate for longer (if that means anything) and if I dated around I might be too jaded to have a quality marriage. Not to critize those who marry later, I just need clarification of the supposed benefits.

    1. Thank you, Dario. I encourage people to marry later for a couple of reasons: first, to get an education (which was probably never in question for you with your background); second, to get established in their careers and be more able to financially handle the responsibilities of marriage; and third, to know themselves a little better before committing to a life together with another person.

      Advice in a book or blog is, inevitably, generalized, and can rarely be appropriate for all people at all times. Furthermore, I’m the first to proclaim the limits of my wisdom: what I think is a good idea or “right” may not be the best thing for everybody else. And you’re absolutely right about seizing the opportunity: you obviously found the right partner at the right time, and knew it.

      Congratulations on being a parent, and on the upcoming addition to the family. From the insights and comments you’ve contributed to the blog, I think they’re very fortunate children, indeed. – BGT

      1. Some of you say, ‘social climbing’ as if it were a bad thing. Had I not climbed out of the situation I was in while looking for a mate, I may have been stuck listening to my husband talk about his fantasy football league, his beers around the world tour he took (not actually going around the world but drunk while sitting on the same barstool at his local watering hole). People ‘social climb’ for reasons other than money. I remember once speaking with a potential date over the phone. He stopped the conversation and asked, ‘You read alot don’t you?’. Well, that killed it for me. I also have been chastised for using different words such as troglodyte instead of caveman by men intimidated by a woman ‘who reads alot’.
        My husband was different than any other man I had ever known, and still is. Among his many wonderful qualities is his intellect but also his ability to speak with pauper & prince and have both come away feeling as if they had been treated equally and had a great conversation.
        If a person ‘social climbs’ but fits in well and blends with those around them while adding to their environment, what is the harm?
        I knew what I wanted in a spouse would not be found in my socioeconomic circle. People too busy and too tired at the end of the day to do much beyond ‘veg out’ in front of the t.v.
        Am I a snob. Yes… of sorts. I wanted something different and I found it outside the social class into which I had been born. I have no regrets and I would do it all again if I had too.

      2. Good for you, Melissa. It’s important to make the distinction between ‘social climbing’ and ‘self-improvement’. You had the awareness to know what you wanted and you made the effort to move toward it. The pursuit of happiness, to echo our Founding Fathers. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing. – BGT

  4. Hi Byron – Just a quick comment on your poster’s concerns regarding the OMB being used for social climbing. There are a couple of other books currently out there written by OMGs advertised as guides to social climbing. I never got that vibe from your book at all (I have reread it several times). Your approach has always been to educate the general public regarding a certain lifestyle that has overwhelmingly resulted in happy, well-lived lives. From my perspective, that is the type of “guide” you have published. Keep up the great work!

    1. I agree with SM, I’ve never had the impression that your books encourage social climbing; they offer a worldview perspective that is meant to help others benefit from beliefs and habits that have consistently contributed to being happy and building character.
      Even the “how to spot an OMG” is more of an opportunity to see the values discussed in action, not reconnaissance for bagging an OMG’s bank account!
      As for money, I’m learning to how to save and spend more wisely.
      I get the impression that your regular readers are just trying to improve their lives with time-tested ideas.
      Sure, users, oops, “social climbers and posers”, can glean useful information, but they were doing that before the internet or your books existed. I would think it is as easy to pretend to be an OMG as it is to be a fake Native American; the lack of community connections would be a dead giveaway.

    2. Thank you, Keith.

      I’m sure people can use some of the information in The Old Money Book for social climbing, but not much. A blue blazer and some penny loafers will only get you so far if you don’t embrace the other concepts. The Core Values are where the rubber meets the road. I like the Surprise Millionaires site because you present rock-hard, fact-based examples of people who walk the walk. There’s just no oxygen for posers there.

      Your support means a lot. Thanks again. – BGT

  5. Hi Dario and surprise millionaires

    Education for employment and career? What is this? The primary goal of education is to walk young lads through aristocratization, the natural aristocratization. Teaching skills, virtues, justice, truth, history (economic, monetary, social, political…), literature, arts, instruments (violin, viola, piano, viola da gamba, harpsichord …..), dance, conversation, languages, law, swimming, skiing, tennis, ….. One can get education only at home. That is why there are only few privileged. And since we are natural aristocrats, our ranks are open to those who are willing to live, learn, study, support and naturally encourage our way of living and share our values. Yes, we are slow in making friend. True friendship is very rare.

    Social climbers, however confuse education with schooling. Schooling and school is the place for social climbers. That is their baseball diamond where they can show off and “learn” from better offs. Oh, they need a good school for “better career”. What is a career? Brown nosing? Oh, yeah, it is important to match Standard Occupational Classification and to be boxed in velvet box. Velvet or iron, a box is always a box. What are diplomas and credentials good for? To show off!, of course! What is your Ivy diploma good for, if you did not tech your son/s/daughter/s how to play violin, piano, languages, arts ……… if they have no idea what is the meaning of the sterling hallmarks, or they cannot distinguish baroque form classicism …….?

    We marry late, yes, because we have to find out if our spouse shares our values and ideas about life. First we have to find out if they can cook, if they can get their hands dirty when they peel potato or carrot. If they can breast-feed until needed and necessary and if they do not mind to check if what is in the diaper has the right consistency. We have to make sure that our future wives/husband do not have any problems to wake up at 3 am and run to pharmacy for what is needed, if it is needed or they have no problem to muck manure with a pick fork. And after that we can park Bentley eight and ask her out and say YES.

    At school one can easily walk in line with cast mores. That is where ones the true Old Money are now. Because of the fear and unwillingness to stay open the French, German, Austrian, Hungarian …… aristocracy fell into cast. Closed and stupid snobbery. Something so admired by the middles.

    Education, credentials, career…. If you cannot pick manure with your bare hand and smell it, you are not Old Money, you are not the natural aristocrat!

    So this is Byron’s book about. About the natural aristocracy and natural aristocratization process. It is certainly not for social climbers – aka – cultural Marxist – perfectly politically correct. No! We are as we are, we say it the way we say it and we do not apologize for it. If it needs to be written this way, I write it this way.

    Do not read Byron’s book!

    Read what is between the lines, the true meaning is there!

  6. Omgm, it sounds like you’re talking about being very well-rounded; cultivating the mind and getting down to earth, and that is rare and unappreciated in this world. As you know, learning and studying for its own sake is not encouraged. Social climbers are about the money, ultimately, and would study and learn only as much as will help them get…money and status.
    Career skills are valued more, and that requires specialization with no time to learn about other areas.
    However, I have noticed that home-schooled children are more well-rounded, interesting individuals.

    From what you say, it sounds like some aristocrats died out because they became hot house flowers.
    3 am pharmacy runs and deciphering diaper contents was beneath them. I’m guessing they lived off their names and stopped growing.

    Byron, your blog has become an outlet for different OMG perspectives. Thank you. I look forward to rereading your books with these perspectives in mind.

    1. Yes, Mary, homeschooled children perform better, but do not count on state designed and prescribed curriculum. When you dine with your family and rest your knife on the plate, you sure see there is a certain angle. Why not talk about what kind of angles do we know. You slice meat on your plate and you have fractions. You drink water, usually from glass. Wow, now we can shift to liquids and solids. You use salt? Explain your children chemical reactions in our body. I am sure you already tried an orange or grapefruit. The pulp is made of the largest – free eyes visible cell. So switch to biology, botany……… renaissance and baroque still life paintings are full of fruits. Go arts, explain what is still life, baroque ………. Do I need a state? Their advices? We do not need them, they need us.

      “There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents.”
      Thomas Jefferson

      And please, read the book

      1. omgm, I like reading your comments. You do not sugar coat anything. The more I hear about the emphasis for S.T.E.M. in schools the more I cringe. Parents think their children are being educated but they are merely being trained to be a cog in the machine… a ‘minion’, as-it-were. Taking music, and art out of schools and adding more sports, and math clubs contributes to the lopsidedness of the present education crisis in America. There is nothing wrong about math of sports but those are not, as most of us know, the only subjects that matter in an education. Common core has only made it worse. Non-OMG’s think the arts, music, and reading anything that is not a self-help book, or a book on how to code, is a waste of time. We see the results of that mentality in generations of people who cannot think for themselves and are easily manipulated… mission accomplished!

  7. OMGs, I appreciate the link, thank you. Organic learning is always best and the most easily remembered. What great suggestions! They remind of the Montessori method.
    Byron, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to think in public!

  8. For Melissa

    Hi Melissa,
    I appreciate your comment.
    In Who was Galileo book on a page number 22 is written:

    One day Galileo heard a lecture that set his mind afire. He realized that nature run with perfect order, ruled by unseen laws. These laws were written in a special code: mathematics. “The universe cannot be read until we have learned the language in which it is written,” Galileo wrote later. “It is written in mathematical language. And these letters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures.”

    By the word “universe” in renaissance we understood nature. My favorite questions for S.T.E.M. – ers are these: Can we bend water? If we cannot, why? If we can, what is the curvature coefficient of water surface of the Pacific Ocean? You will not doubt that we live on sphere, would you? What is the math formula of your feeling right at the moment when you smell beautiful rose? Or would that be rather square or other geometrical figure? Why those majestic clouds (my favorite are in baroque paintings) do not fall? There is gravity, isn’t there? What is the mass of myelin in those “sophisticated” robots produced by Boston Dynamics? Do they have a free will? When shopping, can you get minus 5 pounds of potatoes? Why? We can have negative interest rates and we cannot get negative amount of potatoes?

    Have you ever tried to calculate 3.49 percent inters form 23 in roman numbers?

    What’s wrong with human chromosome number 2? Why do use so little of our DNA? Is the rest just a waste of material?

    Should you have problem buying these books: The Babylonian Woe, Financial Vipers of Venice and Babylon’s Banksters, just tell a store keeper you have a crazy brother – a researcher at university in Padua, Italy.

    I warned several times of Aristotle.

    For Byron I would humbly recommend practicing his French by checking this web site http://monikastehlikova.cz/enfrancais/. And I would also call her 😉 maybe you will rediscover something.

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