Soak the rich.
Rich people are so greedy!
They should pay their fair share.
You’ve heard the tirades.
Corporations and the people who run them have more money than they deserve because capitalism is a corrupt system serving only the needs of the filthy rich.
I’m not a millionaire, and I’ve never played one on TV. But I do respect the accomplishments of those who have become millionaires—or even billionaires.
A Wealth of Misunderstanding
Appreciating the value high net worth individuals bring to our lives is especially important these days when we are likely entering a period in which the attitudes of political leaders is shifting toward a soak the rich and “make them pay their fair share” mentality.
It’s also crucial because “becoming wealthy” can be a fitting goal for people who aspire to live differently than the norm. That goal can bless not only those who achieve a higher level of personal income than usual but also those who help them get there.
Becoming wealthy can be
a fitting goal for people who aspire
to live differently than the norm.
Paying a "fair share" in taxes may be a legitimate intent (I'll talk more about that in the next section). But before anyone decides it’s legitimate to take away $X million of a rich person's wealth in taxes, we should look at what these folks contributed along the way to amassing their treasure
It's crucial to distinguish between contributing to society through taxes and contributing through other means. On the second point, virtually every multi-millionaire has, on the way to becoming wealthy, contributed far more than their share to our collective well-being.
Who among us economically-normal people have done more to benefit our ways of getting work done, carrying on business, communicating with each other, or facilitating healthy commerce than people like Bill Gates (Microsoft) or Jeff Bezos (Amazon)? I know I haven’t.
They’re among the world’s richest people specifically because their investment of time, money, and creative thinking in business has generated ways of living that we all benefit from. They've changed the world in massive ways that a miniscule number of people in history ever have.
But, even so, don’t they “have too much”?
In a word, NO.
Why should any of us have the right to tell someone else how much is too much reward for their effort and innovation?
If we try, we undermine some of the very motivation that encourages people to undertake work to better our lives. The promise of gaining personal wealth is a major motivator for the sacrifice and risk of starting and running a business. We also face the totalitarian nightmare of drawing the rich/poor line in the right place.
Who’s Money Is It, Anyway?
Whether Bezos, Gates, or a guy running the local fast food franchise, people in business create jobs, pay suppliers (which allows them to pay their employees), provide wanted services for their customers, and create a market for luxuries that, in turn, provides more jobs and opportunities for countless people.
So, if the measure of fair share is related to contribution to our lives, it is we “simple folk” who come up far short. Rich folks have done way more than their part.
Still, there is a place for “fair share” in the world of taxes.
Since we endure income taxes of various sorts in the U.S., it’s fitting to be equitable in how much each citizen or citizen’s business pays. But fair is fair.
Apart from thinking rich people don’t deserve as much as they have—the envy-based attitude I’ve taken issue with above—there’s not much reason for even a “graduated tax” (except possibly on the low-income side to care for those who have so little as to make paying taxes an undue burden). But for most of us, if a given percentage is fair for one, it’s fair for another.
Those of us who aspire to Different should be especially careful not to demonize or become jealous of those who’ve achieved a financially different life. Their Different is likely the most beneficial to the most people of any Different someone could pursue.
Excellent books I've read and recommend
about understanding wealth:
T. Harv Eker If fighting the financial battle to do Different feels like your biggest issue, Eker's book is a must-read. He delves into the thought-life required for being successful in making and keeping money and shows how to root out deep-seated hang-ups that hold you back. Even better, he walks you through do-able exercises that help you replace dysfunctional ideas with healthy, productive thinking.
Mark T. Whitten
One of the most balanced books I've ever read on the biblical view of wealth, Whitten's book turns on their heads many well-meaning—but nevertheless false—ideas about what the Bible teaches about wealth. If you want to get your head on straight about how righteousness and “mammon” can go together, read Sea Lions in the Desert cover to cover.
Kiyosaki's instructive and engaging personal story has been around long enough to become a business classic. In it, he demonstrates exactly how to understand the differing benefits of simply working a job, becoming self-employed, starting a business, and becoming an investor. To succeed in wealth building, grasping the significance of these four ways to create income is absolutely essential.
In case you're interested in my "appropriate disclosure" statement:
The links for these books are affiliate links through which I receive a commission
if you buy the book. It doesn't affect the price you pay, and I include these books because
I truly recommend what they have to say, not just because I'd like to make money from selling a copy or two.
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©2021 Greg Webster. All rights reserved.