Do the rich DESERVE their money?

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posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 02:56 PM
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I originally typed this as a long 2-part reply to another thread, but I feel it is a thorough and important enough explanation of some of my views on philanthropy, wealth, and the gap between rich and poor that I've decided to dedicate it's own thread.

I hope this gives you something valuable to chew on or puts words to something you've felt for awhile. I hope this stimulates an open and productive conversation truly getting to the bottom of these realities/issues.

Without further ado:


I am very wary of those who defend the economic "rights" of the rich and of giant corporations, as if they're a weak and/or oppressed minority. However, the very fact that they are wildly rich/powerful/influential in such an unregulated country/world as ours fundamentally exempts them from being an oppressed minority. Even in a heavily regulated/taxed world or country they're still kings.

When asking ourselves if the rich have truly earned their wealth- First we must set aside the unrelated factors such as how these super-rich achieved their wealth within the market and also the philanthropy they subsequently engage in.

Of course in a direct/physical sense they earned their wealth, it happened, therefore it's true. However, in a more philosophical sense we can't be sure that they legitimately earned that amount of money. I've heard many excuses in my debates with people when they defend the disproportionate wealth of others, for instance- they worked really hard for it, they earned it lawfully, they donate to good causes, they provide desirable jobs/products/services, they created the idea and/or pioneered it effectively, etc. etc. And these sound all good and well if you simply accept them as that. However, the way I think doesn't allow me NOT to question this logic very deeply.

So, let's start with my favorite excuse for the hoarding of great wealth-


1) They worked really hard for it


First of all, this is an assumption, both on its face and in a relative sense. Most of the people who use this line of logic don't actually know whether or not a specific wealthy person or certain groups of wealthy people actually worked very hard for their wealth. This ignorance of the very value of their claim inherently corrupts the strength of it. However, let's just say that the majority of wealthy people worked very hard for their money. Now we have to ask ourselves, relative to whom? Did the wealthy CEO work harder than the janitor or floor workers of his company? Did he/she expend more effort/energy? Does he work harder than [I]ANY[/I] poorer person? And if so, how much harder did he work? If this CEO is making 400 times the salary of an average worker in his employ yet he's not working any harder or even just 10 times harder than his average employee, how is that proportionate and legitimate? The math simply doesn't add up, nor could it ever add up until the top salaries were decreased/redistributed (unless the CEO was actually Superman). It's a fundamental and exponential increase of wealth up the economic ladder that does not coincide with an equally exponential rise in effort/energy or even necessarily the importance of their tasks/responsibilities. What about the impoverished mother/father working multiple jobs for most of their free time to support a family only to remain living in poverty, paycheck to paycheck, never quite able to rise above it? What about the legions of workers underneath a CEO who are the gears that actually make an idea come to life in the real world? Is their position seriously 400 times less important than the head honcho who runs things?

2) They earned it lawfully


Once again, there is an inherent ignorance in this argument that destabilizes it. How do we know for sure that the wealthy have always walked the straight and narrow, following the law at every turn to earn their wealth? Most of us don't or can't, even. If we take the hypothetical wealthy person who earned their money 100% lawfully, then we must ask ourselves- did they still earn it morally/ethically? Anybody with a political/philosophical mind realizes that the laws we enact are not always moral/ethical, nor do proper morals/ethics always follow from laws/authority. Laws are many times based on morals/ethics but not vise versa. We must also realize that our system of laws is quite imperfect, including unnecessary or counter-productive parts, loopholes, bureaucratic messes, corruption, authoritarianism, holes/inconsistencies/weaknesses, etc. This is why a company like Wal-Mart or Exxon can get away with terrible things in a lawful manner, they have a massive amount of legal defense at their side to push the boundaries of lawfulness beyond morals/ethics. We must also use systems-thinking to analyze morals/ethics within the context of our systems from afar. That is to say- a business/venture may be legitimate within our systems of laws, markets, supply/demand, or culture, but that does not necessarily mean that they are legitimate in a scientific, holistic, or ultimate sense. For instance, as a culture/system we accept the role that Wal-Mart or Exxon plays providing their products/services/jobs to society. Many of us shop at Wal-Mart consuming the products within, most of us use petroleum, its byproducts, fuels, plastics, etc. that in large part is provided by Exxon and companies like it. But there is a hidden cost to this consumption- environmental damage comes first, damage to local communities/cultures, corruption of politics/government, mistreatment of customers/workers, ill-effects to health, oppressive policies foisted upon customers/employees/communities/partners/etc., exploitation of non-renewable resources, false advertising/lies, pollutive commercialism/consumerism, unfair/unstable monopolies, and so on and so forth. When assessing the legitimacy of these economic entities, whether they're people or organizations, we MUST take into account a holistic view of what kinds of benefits they provide us stacked against the damage/suffering they cause. There is also the larger issue of overall sustainability (primarily environmental).


Continued...





posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 02:57 PM
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...Continued...



3) They donate to good causes


Philanthropy is a great moral/ethical policy when in possession of great wealth. It is commendable and capable of doing great things. However, regardless of the usefulness of philanthropy, it is still unrelated to HOW that wealth was earned. Even a rich mob-boss who gains money from killing/stealing can still donate to charities, but this does not make the earnings legitimate. To tie this back to a more 'lawful' source of wealth, even a corrupt CEO or an un-corrupt CEO of a destructive company can donate to charity, but this again has nothing to do with where that money came from and how much the CEO actually deserves it. Furthermore, most wealthy people do not donate a very significant percentage of their wealth to charity. When compared to the average civilian's charitable contributions, they are far greater as an amount, but in relation to their own profits the amount can be pretty insignificant. The difference between the wealth of a rich person versus the wealth of an average person is that the average person NEEDS most of their money to survive/thrive, whereas a very wealthy person could donate 90% of their money to charity and STILL be far richer than the average person. Of course every philanthropist is different, every charity is different, and every lone good deed done with wealth is different. This is still something to be encouraged. When pondering the whole nature of philanthropy, though, I once envisioned a fitting analogy to our society- Bill Gates or some other philanthropist is posing for a camera crew, smiling and giving thumbs up, while behind him rages a hellish forest fire, he is throwing buckets of water on some burning grasses showing that he's doing his part to fight the fires, later it is found out that the forest fire had multiple complex causes, one small part of which was actually Bill Gates' fault. In relation to our society, Bill Gates, of course, represents the philanthropist, the forest fire represents the world's problems, the buckets of water represent his money/efforts at solving world problems, the photo-op/posing represents the publicity and praise he receives for his firefighting efforts, and his part in starting the forest fire represents his part in actually CAUSING some problems in the world via the gigantic and at times destructive/oppressive footprint of his company and the effects/demands it has upon the world. So, what follows such an analogy are a couple more refined questions- first, how much does such philanthropy really help to solve world problems? Secondly, how much do their charitable contributions actually OFFSET their part in causing/furthering some of the world's problems? From what I've learned/seen, Bill Gates does seem to actually care about the issues he donates to, but I'm still left wondering- in the grand scheme of things, are his charitable contributions just a drop in the bucket and serve more as an a**-saving mechanism than a considerable force for progress/improvement?

4) They provide desirable jobs/products/services


This is a more complex issue that I'm sure is ultimately quite subjective to people, but still I will offer my views on it. First of all, I'm of the opinion that most jobs, products, and services are not as desirable as they're made to be. Whether it means that most jobs are toilsome/uninspiring busywork in the attainment of the almighty dollar which is required to survive (essentially a false choice), or that many products/services are more excessive, shoddy, destructive, oppressive, and/or wasteful than they seem. Though many people are fortunate to have a job and they MUST work to survive, it still seems a kind of tragic slave-mentality for people to thank the wealthy for sh*t jobs at relatively low pay, almost akin to thanking the police who have locked you in jail for providing you meals... there's just something off about it to me. As for products and services... let's not BS ourselves into idealizing our market, there is a lot of crap out there that we just plain dont need, no matter how cool it'd be to have, there's also something to be said about the evils of consumerism and mindless accumulation of material possessions, we all should know by now that life's about much much more than what we can buy. There's also the suppression of more advanced technologies, designs, materials, qualities... planned obsolescence, insane price markups, ripoffs, infomercials, and the endlessly self-perpetuating nature of advertising and supply/demand. Not to mention the wastefulness of so many products we use and the damage, once again, they do to the environment not only during/after we consume/toss them but during their extraction, production, distribution, etc.

5) They created the idea and/or pioneered it effectively


That's all good and well, and many times we can pat visionary/genius/ingenious/clever/productive entrepreneurs/inventors/business-men on the back for accomplishments. However, once again this does not necessarily legitimize the AMOUNT of money gained or how it was gained. Personally, I'd absolutely want to reap the benefits of an invention or successful entrepreneurial effort, everyone wants to reap the fruits of their labors and be able to live happily/abundantly off it. The problem though, lies in a game of luck/chance where many people may make the same honest effort, while only a minority will succeed. The problem with that is that it's probably not ALWAYS a fair/deserving victory. Very few of us filter through to become truly rich, and those of us who do can attribute it to a lot of luck and timing, along with ingenuity/hard work/perseverance/vision. Once again, there is much to be said about somebody who pinoeers an idea and turns it into a successful venture, but they'd all be NOWHERE without the help/labors they receive from others.


To conclude- the system we live in cannot sustain most of the population living richly; an underclass is a necessary byproduct, not a defect, to civilization. So the whole game is essentially rigged with fluctuations over time in the details but overall the same patterns/rules remain.

The utmost question- do the rich deserve that much wealth over/above the rest of us?? I must say No.

[edit on 18-6-2010 by NoHierarchy]



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 03:14 PM
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I say no.
Wealth is a cancer that deprives resources from circulating.
In this time of extreme poverty for many of the worlds people, there is Eleven Trillion, yes 11 trillion deposited in tax free banks.
The wealthy are wealthy because they are psychotic about possessing money.
They need to be relieved of their burden.
And a cap should be put on personal wealth to ensure maximum circulation of the currency stock.
The world needs to recognize an obsession when it has one.



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 03:19 PM
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Meh. The very rich tend to get out of paying taxes anyway.

There has never in the history of human existence been a civilization in which the rulers did not have vastly more wealth than the average person. Even in the various "revolutions from below" of the 19th and 20th centuries, all that ended up happening was the old rulers got killed or deposed, the "inner clique" guiding the revolution took all their wealth, and became the new despotic rulers. The poor rubes who were promised a better life through revolution, but were not part of the clique, ended up still penniless and now also traumatized by the bloodshed.

There has never been a "rule by the poor" and never will be.

As for whether the rich "deserve" their wealth, "deserve" refers to fairness, and fairness is always in the eye of the beholder. You never hear someone hysterically argue in the name of fairness that he should have some extra penalty applied to him. So of course most people with less money than the very rich will judge the riches to be ill-gotten.

I say stop obsessing over other people and worry about your own karma.


[edit on 18-6-2010 by NewlyAwakened]



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 03:23 PM
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Why wouldn't they be?

It's not any different from anyone else that works hard for something.
You created that wealth. There's no reason to be deprived of it.

Just because you don't have as much as someone else does doesn't mean they shouldn't have it.

Now that being said there should be rules in place that don't allow favoritism in government where that money could unfairly influence a decision in their favor.



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 03:24 PM
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WTF is it with people and the rich?

So they're rich? BFD. Get out there, get working, do something that is valuable and you, too, and be rich.

"The Rich didn't earn that money!" If I had a nickel for every time I heard that comment here.
And you honestly think that taking it from them and GIVING it do some deadbeat waste of skin is "earning it"?

Seems that most people would rather sit on their ever-expanding fat ass and whine to the government, "Those people shouldn't be rich. Give ME their money!!"



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 03:25 PM
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do any of us truly 'deserve' anything?
there are problems with this 'deserve' mindset. firstly, who determines who deserves what? do we take half of Bill Gates' $ cuz he has so much? do we take Thurston J Howell III's money even if it's only 2 million cuz it's still too much? does J. Throgmorton Trustfund II forfeit $ cuz it was inherited? somebody defined 'a rich person is anyone who has a dollar more than you'. do we cap wealth at a billion? a hundred million? one million?
if we're going to take $ from anyone let's start with George Soros, a foriegner who made zillions betting on US economic downturns. (guess you heard he invested big bucks in Petrobras, supported Obama, and 'advised' Obama to lend u.s. tax money to...Petrobras.)
another problem is, how do encourage industry and risk-taking if folks don't think they'll be able to cash in? I about blew a gasket when I heard Obama unctiously ask 'how much money is enough?'. Yo, Bama, you're a millionaire yourself. let's see you start giving it away. No? double standard baby! if Joe Investor is sitting on a mil and can't add to it he won't bother investing, either in new business or expansion. where do the jobs come from then?
to paraphrase Robert A. Heinlein, free market capitalism isn't much of a system, but it's 10 times better than anything else anyone's come up with.



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 03:27 PM
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It depends on how they got rich.

Politicians & Bankers NO!



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 03:27 PM
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How much wealth you have is not necessarily a reflection on how much wealth you helped create. Honestly I think it's arbitrary to say someone does or does not deserve a certain amount of wealth. Your just trying to find meaning and reason where there is none if you say someone deserves something or not.

[edit on 18-6-2010 by CREAM]



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 03:45 PM
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Remember, wealth is the part of your money you didn't spend. One major problem is that so many people just don't have the emotional intelligence to be rich. Throw money at them and it glances off. They spend it for a pile of shiny toys and are still broke at the end of the month. Statistics show that over 80% of the million dollar lottery winners are poor again after only two years. Hmm...how can that be?



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 03:54 PM
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I really don't know the answer to any of this..however, I sometimes daydream about having more money than I could ever spend..and then realize that this will probably NEVER happen so I snap out of it and move on. I also think about how rich (40K/4person household) I am compared to much of the world and then I really want to kick myself for dreaming of being super rich. I just want to be happy and that comes with and without money.



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 04:28 PM
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Flag & Star although I've only read the intro and first commentary.

Your views seem very similar to mine so far. I've got a saying that's slightly exaggerated but says what I want it too. What could ANYONE do to earn $40,000,000,000 / year? It just doesn't make sense that any one person could produce work that would be valued at such an enormous sum.


And what do they spend it on? Diamond encrusted cell phones?
Yea, that's worth the money.


Your commentary on Corporate CEOs made me think about the BP CEO. I saw him giving a news conference saying that BP would clean up EVERY DROP of oil. EVERY DROP! What an idiot. I understand that it was somewhat of a euphemism BUT I would think a CEO would be a little smarter than that. I wonder how much his yearly salary is?



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 04:42 PM
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I believe that every one who earns money should be allowed to keep it.

If you do not like the power of large Corporations

Do Not Buy their product or services.



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 04:56 PM
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Excellent thread OP!!!!! I have to say I agree with you.

Look at movie stars for instance. They think nothing of spending thousands of dollars on a pair of shoes or one dress or suit. If I had that much money and did that, I would have my head examined! How greedy and selfish and arrogant of them. I would feel so guilty and ashamed. It's one thing to have a nice home but huge mansions and huge pools and etc.etc. Insane!

Sports figures too. They get paid way too much for playing a game. I mean come on!


If I had millions of dollars I would do so much good with it. I would not waste it.



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 05:07 PM
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Originally posted by works4dhs
do any of us truly 'deserve' anything?
there are problems with this 'deserve' mindset. firstly, who determines who deserves what? do we take half of Bill Gates' $ cuz he has so much? do we take Thurston J Howell III's money even if it's only 2 million cuz it's still too much? does J. Throgmorton Trustfund II forfeit $ cuz it was inherited? somebody defined 'a rich person is anyone who has a dollar more than you'. do we cap wealth at a billion? a hundred million? one million?
if we're going to take $ from anyone let's start with George Soros, a foriegner who made zillions betting on US economic downturns. (guess you heard he invested big bucks in Petrobras, supported Obama, and 'advised' Obama to lend u.s. tax money to...Petrobras.)
another problem is, how do encourage industry and risk-taking if folks don't think they'll be able to cash in? I about blew a gasket when I heard Obama unctiously ask 'how much money is enough?'. Yo, Bama, you're a millionaire yourself. let's see you start giving it away. No? double standard baby! if Joe Investor is sitting on a mil and can't add to it he won't bother investing, either in new business or expansion. where do the jobs come from then?
to paraphrase Robert A. Heinlein, free market capitalism isn't much of a system, but it's 10 times better than anything else anyone's come up with.


You're wrong about the Petrobras propaganda. Please seek out facts before you take something Glenn Beck or Michelle Malkin say... in fact, don't listen to ANYTHING they say, they lie more than they tell the truth. Here are the facts:

www.factcheck.org...

As for your contentions, you're setting up straw men and manufacturing false conclusions/solutions. You also never addressed what I actually said, instead you're arguing with what you would have wanted me to say. There are a MYRIAD of possible solutions that have been invented and are yet to be invented. For instance, capping income could work. If you believe that one man can legitimately earn an infinite amount of money OVER AND ABOVE those who work for him then NO solution will suffice in your mind to correct the huge gap between the rich and the poor. If the fact that the richest Americans make over 900 times more than the average worker doesn't strike you as wrong then I seriously don't know what to tell you. However, a very sensible and working solution to the top-down corporate structure/hierarchy are cooperatives. In a company, you can structure things ANY WAY you'd like, it doesn't always have to be top-down, CEO takes the lion's share and then some while everyone else gets paid a relatively measly wage. In many cooperatives, there is an equal sharing of duties and profits as well as decision making. Everyone in the company has an equal and democratic say in what goes on (according to who is most affected by the decision) and a more/less equal share of the profit pie. This makes much more sense in so many ways and is empowering to workers while being Democratic at the same time, it's a no brainer. Cooperatives:

en.wikipedia.org...

The statement that free-market capitalism is better than anything else anyone's come up with is pure opinion/slant. It's not necessarily true. As for the Heinlein quote... I don't think that even exists. There are a number of very similar quotes that seem to be ripped off from the original by Winston Churchill:
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

There's this tendency of too many people to latch onto Capitalism no matter what, championing it without ever really questioning it. You must be willing to abandon Capitalism if it is a failure, and it is, just as Communism is a failure, they're two sides of the same coin. It's time to grow up and adapt to reality. You seem to be trapped within the ideological paradigm of hierarchical Capitalism/economics; of COURSE certain solutions only make sense WITHIN that system. However, you must be open to radically different new systems of economics and making a livelihood that serve PEOPLE and the ENVIRONMENT rather than serving itself. Here's another interesting/intelligent alternative to Capitalism/Communism- Participatory Economics (Parecon):

en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 05:08 PM
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Originally posted by signal2noise
WTF is it with people and the rich?

So they're rich? BFD. Get out there, get working, do something that is valuable and you, too, and be rich.

"The Rich didn't earn that money!" If I had a nickel for every time I heard that comment here.
And you honestly think that taking it from them and GIVING it do some deadbeat waste of skin is "earning it"?

Seems that most people would rather sit on their ever-expanding fat ass and whine to the government, "Those people shouldn't be rich. Give ME their money!!"



So you're saying that the majority of humans are deadbeat wastes of skin? If so, then I'm sure you have no friends here. If not, then you COMPLETELY missed my point.



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 05:10 PM
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Originally posted by ACTS 2:38
I believe that every one who earns money should be allowed to keep it.

If you do not like the power of large Corporations

Do Not Buy their product or services.


So you believe our system is perfectly fine just the way it is? If not, then do you think it's even acceptable in how it rewards the few and leaves the rest of humanity impoverished??



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 05:13 PM
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Of course they deserve their money.
If they worked hard for it, why shouldn't they deserve to be rich?

Granted, there are some that inherit their wealth, these are usually the ones that end up getting controlled by their money, or rather, the money earned by their parents.

Money is not evil, but the LOVE of money is!

Btw, I've got another question, do students that spend all their time doing nothing but study, study study, deserve to have a 4.0 GPA?
...don't tell me they should contribute some of their hard earned GPA points to the "less fortunate" slackers?



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 05:16 PM
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We should keep in mind that there are many rich people out there. It is hard to make blanket statements about all of them. Some of them might be good people, some of them might be rotten people. Some of them 'earned" their money, others may have been born into it or just got lucky.

We should also keep in mind that many would consider YOU to be stinking rich because you have indoor plumbing, electricity, and a computer. All those bad things you are saying about billionaires could easily be said about you. Just as Paris Hilton did not do much to be rich to be wealthy, many of you did not do much to live the lifestyle of somebody in an industrialized nation. Are you going to tell me you work harder than some sweat shop worker in a third world country?



posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 05:18 PM
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If you took all the money away from the rich, and equally distributed it amongst the population of a country, I'd be willing to bet that most of the rich would be rich again in 5-10 years.

The poor would once again be poor.
Many people are poor because of the choices they make.

Some of the rich are rich because of the choices they've made.

Just my thoughts.





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