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What kind of responsibility comes with financial wealth?

July 25, 2011

I want to say it seems like lately the wealthy in this country are being vilified, but isn’t that the way it’s been for a while?  Certain people want you to believe there are two classes of people, the haves and the have-nots.  And the haves the reason the have-nots are in the situation they’re in.

There’s this assumption that with wealth comes this responsibility to share it, to do good with it.  Take the site FairEconomy.org for example.  It’s all about using your wealth responsibly and the disconnect between the “rich” and the “poor.”  It doesn’t take you long to realize their position is that the rich are to blame.  If they’d just share what they have, all our problems would be solved.

They have a section called “11 Things the Wealthiest Americans Could Buy for the U.S.”  According to their sources, the wealthiest 400 Americans could easily buy every family in the country a new car.  Or give every worker in the country $10,000.  Or even pay off every single outstanding student loan.

But should they?  Just because they’re wealthy, do they have a responsibility to take care of those who aren’t?  I don’t think so.  What have I or any other citizen done to deserve that kind of payoff?  Could I use that kind of charity?  Yeah, I’ve got a mortgage, student loans and a host of other financial responsibilities to take care of.  But they’re my responsibility.  And I have to be the one to take care of them.

Do I wonder sometimes what rich people do with all their money?  Sure, who doesn’t?  But they earned it.  And that’s why it’s their right to do what they want with it.  If they want to hoard it away in a bank, so be it.  If they want to live extravagantly with it, ok.  If they want to give it away, that great.  But it’s not a requirement.

Wealthy people have the same responsibilities as I do when it comes to money – which is to use however want.  Whether our choices are foolish or not, well that’s up to us to decide.  And no one should get to tell you if that’s wrong or not, because it’s part of living in a free society.

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