'Bill Murphy Jr. net worth'

I Googled myself and found something surprising. Also: 7 other things worth a click.

I've been thinking of buying a website or two, if I could find the right ones.

Nothing crazy expensive, just the kinds of things I could experiment with and build out a bit more. A broker brought me a site recently that tries to optimize for search queries on how much various celebrities are worth.

You know the kind of thing: "Jennifer Lopez net worth," or “Billie Eilish net worth,” or "Patrick Mahomes net worth." The idea is to get the search traffic, optimize the page with ads, and make money.

I'm don’t think I’m going to buy the site. But I decided for the heck of it to see what comes up if I search for: "Bill Murphy Jr. net worth."

The result was amusing, as it showed my photo next to an article I'd written about Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp. The headline reads, Facebook and Twitter turned down this man 7 years ago -- now he's worth $7 billion.

Aw man. I never really liked that picture of me. Also, I'm not really worth $4 billion. (Old joke: I'd be happy with half of that.)

But I'm intrigued by why this kind of search query does so well.

Last year, I wrote about a Canadian study on the relationship between effective child care and future earnings.

Researchers found that children who had access to quality day care were more likely to be rated by their kindergarten teachers as "prosocial," which in turn correlated with an additional $12,000 per year in annual income 30 years later.

Interesting result. But I also wondered: Wait, how could they know how much money these people made 30 years later?

They apparently just asked the Canadian government to give them access to the now grown-up, former kindergartners' tax returns.

Can you imagine this happening in the United States, as careful as we are about guarding access to people's tax returns?

(Among my many former jobs, I was an attorney for the IRS for a little while. Let's just say that it's a Very Big Deal to disclose confidential taxpayer information to anybody.)

Anyway, people compare their net worths and incomes to others. Yet, it’s hard even to find the right benchmarks. Keeping up with the Jones and all that, when you don’t know if your neighbors are stretched to their credit limit.

There's a backlash of course: the FIRE movement, and minimalism, for starters.

Some of that is driven by financial necessity, but it's also driven by a desire to peel away consciously, maybe even conspicuously, from materialism.

The New York Times reported this week that the Federal Reserve is actually concerned too many millennials might be trying to save and retire early—because that would reduce demand for goods and services, and make it harder to cut rates when the economy slows down.

And as I've written before, some of the "world figures" history looks kindly on—people like Churchill and Truman and Gorbachev—were frankly, horrible with money.

It's funny though:

  1. People wonder how much money other people make or have.

  2. They search for it online.

  3. They find a result that is almost certainly fictional—at best, a pure guesstimate.

  4. Whoever owns and runs the website they visit makes a few pennies for the visit, no matter what it says.

  5. Profit.

Wait a minute. Maybe I ought to buy that site after all.

7 other things worth a click

  1. Today marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Iwo Jima. The last surviving Medal of Honor winner (out of 27 sailors and Marines so honored) recalled his story. (The Washington Post)

  2. Two years ago, HQ Trivia was all the rage. Last week it shut down, but not before its co-hosts got drunk on air and shared a $5 grand prize among 523 winners. (CBS News)

  3. In China, the central bank is disinfecting and even destroying cash because of the coronavirus. (CNN)

  4. A group of 346 Americans who had been quarantined on U.S. military bases after returning from China has been released after two weeks. (NPR)

  5. Tinder is out, mixers are in. Well, according to this article anyway. (The Guardian)

  6. The Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy. (Axios)

  7. President Trump used his pardon and commutation powers, to the benefit of the disgraced former governor of Illinois, the tax fraud ex-commissioner of the NYPD, and the junk bond king Michael Milken. (Politico)

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