The Poor Rich

Strange lessons from the Netflix show ‘How To Get Rich’
6 min readMay 19, 2023
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I’ve been watching the reality TV show How To Get Rich which I want to hate, but I don’t. The unfortunate title is not what I think the host Ramit Sethi intended. He keeps referring to how to live your rich life, which is a very different concept. As he told one man earning $150,000 while his mother worked two cleaning jobs, you’re rich, but you don’t live richly.

Indeed, watching from Sri Lanka, all of these people are already obscenely rich. I earn maybe $25,000 a year but live much better than most of these people. The big reason is that I don’t function as an individual and I do not have to pay for (and worry about) everything myself. Down South, the economic unit is the extended family. ‘My’ house and my car are in other family members names, at least 15 people are actively involved in raising my children, and we share food and resources constantly.

In ‘developed’ countries capitalism has done its level best to destroy the extended family and replace it with ‘market’ forces. I struggle to see how this is more efficient.

Instead of sharing a home with family, people waste space or live badly alone and spend gas to see them. This generates profit, but is it prosperity? No. When you live as an individual or a nuked family you have to pay for every…



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at