It means "WHOSE hard work made him rich, his own or that of others?" Despite popular belief, most "rich" people get rich through their OWN hard work and then they hire people who would otherwise not have jobs. Those eeeeeevil rich people!
There is a pretentious boast among the wealthy that they and only they work hard. And anyone who is not rich doesn't work hard. There are others who maintain that most of the rich, got rich by standing on the necks of the downtrodden. So by whose hard work they are asking was it your own hard work? Or did you get rich by exploiting others. I once read that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. I personally think that when asked how they got rich, they will give that non answer as a means of deflecting the question.
10 months ago
Last edited at 9:19AM on 2/15/2013
It means that he didn't actually work that hard to get where he was, or at least no harder than anyone else. He just got lucky and took advantage of other people to get rich. Like Tony said, plenty of wealthy people DO work hard to make their money, however them being rich doesn't automatically mean they worked much harder than anyone else who's earning a fraction of what they are. Some teachers, for example, work very hard, teach the same thing over and over again in one day and then again the following year (how boring is that!) and even teach night classes to earn some extra money because they are extremely underpaid. And then there's factory workers in Asia who obviously work much harder than any rich person, but then they barely earn a thing. I guess that's why our parents tell us life isn't fair.
Most wealth has been contrived on the backs of others/poor middle class, or from illegal activity. the Kennedy's became rich by smuggle wiskey during prohabition. Most energy co's owe thier wealth to child labor and conscripted workers. Monsanto owes it's wealth to migrant/illegal farm help. banks from ripping off middle class kings and queens from terrorizing peasants.