Author Topic: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"  (Read 10467 times)

Eucalyptus

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"Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« on: January 21, 2018, 05:09:38 PM »
https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/06/its-basically-just-immoral-to-be-rich


This article is excellent, and many on MMM already subscribe to its principals, which is fantastic.


Its a great summative read though with some excellent case examples. I think it would be perfect if some of the case examples were broken down into actual figures of cost/number of people helped/etc.

kayvent

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2018, 06:12:29 PM »
I disagree with the article's thesis that the retention of wealth is immoral. I'll give an anecdote. The broader point will be self-evident.

Bill Gates became a billionaire in 1986. Heck, in 1978 he became a millionaire. Let's start there. Following that article, Mr Gates probably should have liquidated Microsoft and given the money away. But instead, that greedy bourgeoisie swine spent two decades trying to get a computer into every home, internet access around the world, lead a company with a diverse range of innovative products, and revolutionized the world. Generating hundreds of billions in new wealth along the way. Then he spent another two decades giving away tens of billions of dollars. What a greedy, self aggrandizing son of a bitch.

But really, he should have not done any of that and instead given one million dollars away in 1978? Him using his and Microsoft's two million in accumulated worth to grow to the stratosphere was immoral?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 06:24:47 PM by kayvent »

Eucalyptus

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2018, 06:39:35 PM »
I agree, and this came to my mind immediately when I started reading the article.


I think the difference with Bill Gates though is that he does have an end point in mind, ie, he and his wife plan to give pretty much all their wealth away. Whereas most Rich people don't give much thought into giving it away at all and just keep accumulating, then, passing it onto their children, etc. I don't see anything wrong with the Gates approach of using his early wealth to accumulate more, and by doing so he intelligently acquired so much that he can do massive amounts with it in a positive way.


And totally agree that some people acquire their wealth through means that benefit society as a whole.


The Author, in their defence, neither includes, nor excludes this possibility in their article, that someone is intelligently, morally, acquiring using their wealth in early stages to acquire larger amounts to do greater good with later.

aperture

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2018, 07:25:29 PM »
I'll give an anecdote.

The immorality of wealth in the face of extreme poverty is not disproven by your anecdote.  Are you suggesting that when wealthy people use their wealth to aid less advantaged persons there is a predictable loss of overall value?

ender

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2018, 08:17:47 PM »
I'm curious how much money the writer of that article spends every year, gives every year, and what their net worth is.

They are very likely richer than the overwhelming majority of people who have and do live on this planet.


Kl285528

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2018, 09:03:41 PM »
Good lord, if I'm worth millions, every dollar of consumption creates product demand, and thus creates jobs and opportunities. And every dollar I invest supports financing either private or public businesses. And I trust the invisible hand of Adam Smith a lot more than any other system I've seen. That said, we also have taxes to redistribute wealth, and government to help fill in for market failures. And if giving things away is so great, let's start with all the taxpayer paid public school education free to every child, and think about how much of that is squandered. I'm tired and coming off the flu, so I'll cut this short, but this kind of article is written by someone who hasn't thought all the way through to the part about who will decide what is moral spending, who gets it, what is worthy, etc.

kendallf

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2018, 09:10:15 PM »
What a smug jackass that author is.  There are two huge failures in such tripe.

The first is the view that wealth is static, and you can just magically redistribute it.  This is not so, and the more extreme government experiments in "leveling" wealth end up destroying much of it due to incompetence and demotivation.  See Venezuela currently.

The second, of course, is the idea that morality requires equality of outcomes regardless of inequality of effort, talent, and yes, luck and starting privilege.  If you follow down this rabbit hole, where do you stop?  Certainly not at some Baltimore writer's arbitrary limit of "take all of those rich assholes' money away, but not mine, because I'm not wealthy". 

Having said that, I'm not a libertarian.  I don't believe any of us operate in a vacuum.  I'll agree with arguments that our collective good requires sharing in funding many things from the common defense, to education, transportation, and the like.  The goal of these contributions should not be zero sum equality but rather improvements for all.

barbaz

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2018, 12:59:41 AM »
Bill Gates became a billionaire in 1986. Heck, in 1978 he became a millionaire. Let's start there. Following that article, Mr Gates probably should have liquidated Microsoft and given the money away. But instead, that greedy bourgeoisie swine spent two decades trying to get a computer into every home, internet access around the world, lead a company with a diverse range of innovative products, and revolutionized the world
The author didn’t say Gates should quit his job. He could have done all that without his personal wealth. But in Gates‘ case there’s a different interesting problem: he did not have billions of dollars (at first), he only owned shares of his company that were worth billions, if sold. This is different from a ceo who just earns a lot. Gates isn’t just giving away money, he’s also giving away his control over his company.

Racer X

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2018, 06:47:03 AM »
That article is one of the dumbest things I've read in a long time.

Even Jesus only asked for 10%.


barbaz

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2018, 12:27:41 AM »
That article is one of the dumbest things I've read in a long time.

Even Jesus only asked for 10%.
“Socialism: worse than Jesus!” XD

mm1970

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2018, 02:30:58 PM »
Meh, I've worked hard for my money and continue to do so.

I retain my wealth because I have two kids to put through college, and am in my 40s and might likely live another 40 years.  I like safety and am not really interested wondering where the next meal is going to come from.

Some day, my wealth might go all towards keeping my husband and I alive and cared for in a retirement home.  Where people cook for us and clean our apartments and help us through our physical therapy (thus making a salary).  Where my kids aren't bankrupted paying for all this, and where the taxpayers aren't forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to keep me alive.

If it all works out, maybe we'll get to where all our money is almost gone and then we die.  Perfect!

mre

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2018, 02:46:08 PM »
I was too disgusted to finish reading the article.  IMHO it is one of the stupidest things I have ever read.

Full disclosure: My views tend to be of the Libertarian type.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 02:47:48 PM by mre »

omachi

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2018, 03:08:28 PM »
Yawn. I don't think earning, retaining, or even the concept of money is moral or immoral. It's a measure of exchange.

I don't think the author has any morals, just a sense that they're superior to others and know how others should use their money. Look, global median income is what, less than $1500 or so? Global median wealth under $10k or so? And the author still somehow manages to say $100k income is morally defensible. If you want to attach morality to money, it'd make sense to start well below a fraction of the upper 1% globally, wouldn't it? Not just set a really high bar that you undoubtedly already fall under so you can be smug about it?

Wake me when the author voluntarily matches the global median income and wealth levels, giving away the surplus to the bottom and living up to a reasonable conclusion from his moralizing.

Racer X

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2018, 06:32:18 PM »
Yawn. I don't think earning, retaining, or even the concept of money is moral or immoral. It's a measure of exchange.

I don't think the author has any morals, just a sense that they're superior to others and know how others should use their money. Look, global median income is what, less than $1500 or so? Global median wealth under $10k or so? And the author still somehow manages to say $100k income is morally defensible. If you want to attach morality to money, it'd make sense to start well below a fraction of the upper 1% globally, wouldn't it? Not just set a really high bar that you undoubtedly already fall under so you can be smug about it?

Wake me when the author voluntarily matches the global median income and wealth levels, giving away the surplus to the bottom and living up to a reasonable conclusion from his moralizing.

The author of this "article" selecting $100K as a defensible salary reminded me of the ol' George Carlin bit about driving.  "Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?"

Anyone making more than you is immoral, and anyone making less than you just needs to work harder.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2018, 07:00:53 AM »
I think a big point the author missed is that successful individuals have an implicit responsibility to take care of themselves. It's not radically different from MMM talking about having "enough." Among the truly wealthy, there's been this attitude toward using money to keep score of how awesome you are. At that point, yeah, you're kind of a jackass. But on the way up, you need to retain enough so that you can reasonably expect to be self-sufficient and not a drain on society. Around here, we've kind of set that bar around the $1m mark, plus or minus $500k.

Racer X

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2018, 08:27:00 AM »
I think a big point the author missed is that successful individuals have an implicit responsibility to take care of themselves. It's not radically different from MMM talking about having "enough." Among the truly wealthy, there's been this attitude toward using money to keep score of how awesome you are. At that point, yeah, you're kind of a jackass. But on the way up, you need to retain enough so that you can reasonably expect to be self-sufficient and not a drain on society. Around here, we've kind of set that bar around the $1m mark, plus or minus $500k.

And if I think the bar should be at $10M, does that make me immoral? 

NoStacheOhio

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2018, 08:47:32 AM »
I think a big point the author missed is that successful individuals have an implicit responsibility to take care of themselves. It's not radically different from MMM talking about having "enough." Among the truly wealthy, there's been this attitude toward using money to keep score of how awesome you are. At that point, yeah, you're kind of a jackass. But on the way up, you need to retain enough so that you can reasonably expect to be self-sufficient and not a drain on society. Around here, we've kind of set that bar around the $1m mark, plus or minus $500k.

And if I think the bar should be at $10M, does that make me immoral?

My feeling is a lot of it would depend on how you spend your time and money, and how you treat other people.

trollwithamustache

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2018, 12:48:16 PM »
its a bit of a contradiction to first want to redistribute wealth (via our government) and the complain when people do charity (re-distributing wealth) they did in inefficiently.   Maybe if the author could eliminate all government inefficiency I'd agree with him?...

Racer X

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2018, 04:39:50 PM »
I think a big point the author missed is that successful individuals have an implicit responsibility to take care of themselves. It's not radically different from MMM talking about having "enough." Among the truly wealthy, there's been this attitude toward using money to keep score of how awesome you are. At that point, yeah, you're kind of a jackass. But on the way up, you need to retain enough so that you can reasonably expect to be self-sufficient and not a drain on society. Around here, we've kind of set that bar around the $1m mark, plus or minus $500k.

And if I think the bar should be at $10M, does that make me immoral?

My feeling is a lot of it would depend on how you spend your time and money, and how you treat other people.

So the lifestyle is the determination, and the money is irrelevant?  Excellent.  We agree.

Mac_MacGyver

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2018, 05:16:51 PM »
I disagree with the entire premise of the article.

GuitarStv

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2018, 05:32:43 PM »
That article is one of the dumbest things I've read in a long time.

Even Jesus only asked for 10%.

In what passage did Jesus ask for 10%?  I'm unfamiliar with it.

omachi

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2018, 05:44:19 PM »
That article is one of the dumbest things I've read in a long time.

Even Jesus only asked for 10%.

In what passage did Jesus ask for 10%?  I'm unfamiliar with it.

It's the church that wants 10%, not Jesus. Maybe more if you want to buy an indulgence. Pretty sure Jesus is claimed to have said it's easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.

The_Dude

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2018, 06:05:40 PM »
This isn't a new concept...

"To each according to his need and from each according to his ability"

Agree with other posters who point out even at $50K people should be giving away the majority of their wealth.  After all, according to the 2013 Gallup research the worldwide median household income adjusted for PPP was $9.7K and in the US it was $43.6k.  The 10 poorest countries has median household incomes below $2.5K with with the lowest being around $700.

As soon as the author cast such a strong moral stone international borders cease, in my opinion.

zoltani

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2018, 06:54:29 PM »
This isn't a new concept...

"To each according to his need and from each according to his ability"

Agree with other posters who point out even at $50K people should be giving away the majority of their wealth.  After all, according to the 2013 Gallup research the worldwide median household income adjusted for PPP was $9.7K and in the US it was $43.6k.  The 10 poorest countries has median household incomes below $2.5K with with the lowest being around $700.

As soon as the author cast such a strong moral stone international borders cease, in my opinion.

You cut off most of the quote though.

"In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantlyóonly then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!"

While not a new concept, it isn't really a good one.

This article is shite.

obstinate

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2018, 08:04:08 AM »
https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/06/its-basically-just-immoral-to-be-rich


This article is excellent, and many on MMM already subscribe to its principals, which is fantastic.


Its a great summative read though with some excellent case examples. I think it would be perfect if some of the case examples were broken down into actual figures of cost/number of people helped/etc.
I wouldn't say so . . . this person would probably consider having enough to live off your investments as being immoral. So, that seems diametrically opposed to mmm.

barbaz

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2018, 07:46:31 AM »
I wouldn't say so . . . this person would probably consider having enough to live off your investments as being immoral. So, that seems diametrically opposed to mmm.
The article quite specifically talks about possessing "millions of dollars" and earning more than 100k per person (plus 50k per child). I'd say that most people on this forum are below that and these numbers don't conflict at all with Mustachianism.

The idea that wealth carries a responsibility to give back to society is not new at all, this article is just an emotional explanation of certain aspects of utilitarianism. The complainypants attitude revealed by some in this thread is fairly surprising.

acroy

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2018, 08:01:00 AM »
Good lord, if I'm worth millions, every dollar of consumption creates product demand, and thus creates jobs and opportunities. And every dollar I invest supports financing either private or public businesses. And I trust the invisible hand of Adam Smith a lot more than any other system I've seen.

And if giving things away is so great, let's start with all the taxpayer paid public school education free to every child, and think about how much of that is squandered.

 this kind of article is written by someone who hasn't thought all the way through to the part about who will decide what is moral spending, who gets it, what is worthy, etc.
Amen to above.
Author jumps straight to fascism to enforce his version of morality.

kayvent

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2018, 11:54:11 AM »
I wouldn't say so . . . this person would probably consider having enough to live off your investments as being immoral. So, that seems diametrically opposed to mmm.
The article quite specifically talks about possessing "millions of dollars" and earning more than 100k per person (plus 50k per child). I'd say that most people on this forum are below that and these numbers don't conflict at all with Mustachianism.

The idea that wealth carries a responsibility to give back to society is not new at all, this article is just an emotional explanation of certain aspects of utilitarianism. The complainypants attitude revealed by some in this thread is fairly surprising.

The forum and MMM have an over representation of engineers, with few children, that are eager savers. I don't think there is a large majority of people not falling into the latter category and they'd be more people falling into the former if we won't an RE forum.

I'm in the top 3% of income earners for my demographic yet I'm a pauper next to some of these people. If you believe what people say on these forums, many of us would be deca-millionaires if we worked until age 65 and some of us are multi-millionaires already.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2018, 11:56:13 AM by kayvent »

mm1970

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2018, 01:34:35 PM »
I think a big point the author missed is that successful individuals have an implicit responsibility to take care of themselves. It's not radically different from MMM talking about having "enough." Among the truly wealthy, there's been this attitude toward using money to keep score of how awesome you are. At that point, yeah, you're kind of a jackass. But on the way up, you need to retain enough so that you can reasonably expect to be self-sufficient and not a drain on society. Around here, we've kind of set that bar around the $1m mark, plus or minus $500k.

And if I think the bar should be at $10M, does that make me immoral?
I would go with no.

My own personal bar is around $5M.  Might get there, might not.   Hope to.
Fact is, if I pay to put two kids thru college I won't get there, that's for sure.
After that, 20 years of life from age 64 to 84 ain't cheap either.

mm1970

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #29 on: February 01, 2018, 01:38:34 PM »
I wouldn't say so . . . this person would probably consider having enough to live off your investments as being immoral. So, that seems diametrically opposed to mmm.
The article quite specifically talks about possessing "millions of dollars" and earning more than 100k per person (plus 50k per child). I'd say that most people on this forum are below that and these numbers don't conflict at all with Mustachianism.

The idea that wealth carries a responsibility to give back to society is not new at all, this article is just an emotional explanation of certain aspects of utilitarianism. The complainypants attitude revealed by some in this thread is fairly surprising.
I'm not so sure there are so many people below that as you expect.

At 100k per person + 50k per child, we are a *hair* under that as far as salary goes, and I'm pretty sure my husband's bonus puts us over that. 

And our net worth is over a million, thus "millions".

We're just a couple of middle aged engineers.

GuitarStv

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #30 on: February 01, 2018, 02:08:09 PM »
Being rich is an ethically agnostic state.

If you're rich, you got that way by fucking over the poors and the environment . . . well yeah.  You're an unethical asshole.

If you're rich, and you only maintain the funds in order to direct large scale projects to maximize value and benefit to people around the world . . . well, no.  You're a pretty awesome person.

Most are going to fall somewhere between these extremes.


It's important to remind people who are fortunate that their fortunes aren't created in a vacuum.  They typically owe availability of opportunities to circumstances of birth - but they were the ones who seized these opportunities and worked hard to turn them into success.  So, while it's great to profit from your hard work, it's also good to think of all the little things that helped you get there and give back in kind.

Heywood57

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #31 on: February 02, 2018, 08:33:10 AM »
I could not get past the third paragraph

"Because every dollar you have is a dollar youíre not giving to somebody else, "
"the decision to retain wealth is a decision to deprive others.                "

Sounds like A.Q. Smith should cash out his retirement savings and buy
homes for the impoverished .. then he can be poor as well.

GuloGulo

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #32 on: February 03, 2018, 11:31:46 AM »
I agree with the author more than most people here, but they made a fatal mistake in conflating wealth and spending. Having money does not directly deprive anyone else of resources. Trading your money for resources that you then consume does. Wealth (and income) inequality are only problems because they lead to misallocation of resources as wealthy people spend more on themselves.

Here's my alternative view:
  • It's unethical to consume more than your fair share of the world's resources. "Fair share" is hard to pin down but I'd bet it's somewhere between $15,800 (world GDP per capita) and $57,500 (US GDP per capita) of spending per year. Probably not counting medical or education expenses. Spending isn't a perfect proxy for consumption, but it's pretty good.
  • It's unethical to retain more wealth than is necessary to allow you to keep consuming your fair share of resources indefinitely.  This is somewhere between  $400k (world GDP, 4% rule) and ~$2MM (US GDP, 3% rule) net worth.

What do you think? My views tend more toward the lower numbers, personally.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #33 on: February 03, 2018, 12:51:07 PM »
What do you think? My views tend more toward the lower numbers, personally.

I think that's a reasonable point of view, and people can quibble over the details until they're blue in the face. But yeah, basically, don't be a dick, and put on your own oxygen mask first.

omachi

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #34 on: February 03, 2018, 04:36:29 PM »
I agree with the author more than most people here, but they made a fatal mistake in conflating wealth and spending. Having money does not directly deprive anyone else of resources. Trading your money for resources that you then consume does. Wealth (and income) inequality are only problems because they lead to misallocation of resources as wealthy people spend more on themselves.

Here's my alternative view:
  • It's unethical to consume more than your fair share of the world's resources. "Fair share" is hard to pin down but I'd bet it's somewhere between $15,800 (world GDP per capita) and $57,500 (US GDP per capita) of spending per year. Probably not counting medical or education expenses. Spending isn't a perfect proxy for consumption, but it's pretty good.
  • It's unethical to retain more wealth than is necessary to allow you to keep consuming your fair share of resources indefinitely.  This is somewhere between  $400k (world GDP, 4% rule) and ~$2MM (US GDP, 3% rule) net worth.

What do you think? My views tend more toward the lower numbers, personally.

I think I don't understand your math or your basis for your claim that a given consumption level is unethical. You might be able to convince me that total world consumption is unethical because it isn't sustainable. You might be able to convince me that how somebody attained their wealth was unethical, and thus using it to their advantage is likewise unethical. But variations of ethically obtained wealth around a sustainable total is a harder sell, even the extreme ends.

Nor do I see why spending should be a reasonable proxy for consumption. One can spend a fortune on a useless luxury good like a large gemstone, and the impact on consuming world resources is fairly low. One could easily spend 100x as much for a high end vehicle as a cheap one, with resource consumption far less divergent. One could even pay more for locally produced, sustainable food than for factory farmed food that's destroying topsoil and crop diversity, creating an inverse between spending and resource consumption. So I don't buy your claim that you can determine somebody's ethics by the amount they spend or retain to spend.

kayvent

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #35 on: February 03, 2018, 06:06:02 PM »
I agree with the author more than most people here, but they made a fatal mistake in conflating wealth and spending. Having money does not directly deprive anyone else of resources. Trading your money for resources that you then consume does. Wealth (and income) inequality are only problems because they lead to misallocation of resources as wealthy people spend more on themselves.

Here's my alternative view:
  • It's unethical to consume more than your fair share of the world's resources. "Fair share" is hard to pin down but I'd bet it's somewhere between $15,800 (world GDP per capita) and $57,500 (US GDP per capita) of spending per year. Probably not counting medical or education expenses. Spending isn't a perfect proxy for consumption, but it's pretty good.
  • It's unethical to retain more wealth than is necessary to allow you to keep consuming your fair share of resources indefinitely.  This is somewhere between  $400k (world GDP, 4% rule) and ~$2MM (US GDP, 3% rule) net worth.

What do you think? My views tend more toward the lower numbers, personally.

I disagree readily but can see your rationale and respect it. The simplest disagreement I have is that a good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children. The second disagreement is a longer journey to explain.

Wealth is an abstraction of debt. When you and I engage in commerce together, I give you money and you give me services or goods. That hardly seems fair on the surface. One of us got a tangible benefit and the other got a tangible piece of purple polymer. What that money represents is a debt. You gave something away and have not been duly compensated yet. (This model works in both the Coincidence Of Wants or the Credit First construction for the theory of money.)

The reason why we have such large wealth and incomes disparities is because some areas of the economy have revolutionized the world. The ICT and energy sectors, who make up a large section of the disproportionately wealthy, come to mind. A toy example of this is Jeff Bezos. He's worth a tenth of a billion dollars last time I checked. He founded Amazon. Changed how books are sold. Then changed retail's face. And shipping. And created AWS. And catapulted AI, machine learning, and automation by decades. And the list goes on.

What has Jeff Bezos gotten in return for revolutionizing large segments of the global economy and improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people? A few houses. Some nice cars. A newspaper. A plane or two? Lots of nice suits and food.

Seeing an issue with wealth inequality or income inequality is in a way begrudging people for improving society better than other people can. Perhaps we could implement an Examination Day and anyone who is found to be particularly adept as an entrepreneur can be done away with?

Just Joe

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #36 on: February 28, 2018, 09:02:50 AM »
Wealth is immoral if the wealth was made at the expense of other people's health and well-being, and if the wealth was made at the gross expense of the environment.

I would hope the wealthy would (and some certainly do) use their wealth in ethical ways - not derailing our government, not for creating laws or monopolies that eliminate opportunity for other people, or to start political or religious crusades against other people who live in different ways.

I'm definitely a believer that when a person has "enough" to live well then they ought to share the wealth - either retire, mentor others, fund projects for the greater good of society around them, etc.

What all these wealth yardsticks amount to I'll leave to the rest of the group. I prefer to suggest that people manage themselves beyond gov't taxes. Do the right thing. 

MrUpwardlyMobile

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #37 on: April 02, 2018, 01:51:34 PM »
What a terrible article.  itís immoral to have millions?  No, itís really not.  Itís immoral to harm people.  Itís not immoral to give and use what you have in a way that does not harm others.

mm1970

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #38 on: April 02, 2018, 06:43:02 PM »
Somebody bumped this and I'm glad.

In the last two weeks I've read a couple of books that have gotten me thinking more.

$2 A Day, Living on Almost Nothing in America (I've mentioned it multiple times!)
Tears of the Giraffe (a novel set in Botswana)

The plight of the truly poor in this country is distressing.  And it's not as simple as "work harder", "they are lazy", etc.  It's just not.  I know people like simple.

In the novel, the point is made multiple times by the main character that people "of means" (middle / upper classes) in Botswana are EXPECTED to have servants.  In fact, it is selfish to not employ the poor if you have the means to do so.  If anything, it makes me feel not so bad about the cleaning lady and the produce delivery box.

TheWifeHalf

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #39 on: April 02, 2018, 08:43:58 PM »
First, we don't concern ourselves with other people and their definition of 'immoral.'

We have personal definitions, and one, for US only, we think it immoral to bring 3 children into this world (which we knew how to prevent), have the ability, but do not teach them how to support themselves, (and pay taxes.)

We also think it is immoral, for US, if we have the ability, to not provide them with an inheritance that they can use, (all 3 of them), to take care of their congenital problems, which will probably demand more attention as they get older. Thus not leaving the rest of the country to take care of them.

ericbonabike

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #40 on: June 28, 2018, 10:34:47 AM »
Just to be a bit of a contrarian....

Tell me that I'm the only one who has looked at disgusting displays of fabulous wealth and say
"Dang that money would have been used soooo much better by somebody else".

But I understand that this is very much a "Plato's Cave Allegory" problem.  I can't force THOSE people to adopt a more spartan lifestyle...but yeah, it kinda rankles me a bit when I see a pompous 16 year old driving a F250 in the middle of city, and then 5 minutes later see a man standing on corner asking for handouts.

The 16 year old did nothing to deserve that vehicle other than the good fortune of being born to wealthy parents.   But FORCING those parents to spend their money more wisely would be profoundly immoral...I think more immoral than the alternative. 

So, we're left with the system we have.   

grandep

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #41 on: June 28, 2018, 11:01:12 AM »
I seriously thought this was supposed to be satire and kept waiting for the punchline to come... and then I got to the end of the article.

I can't believe this is even being seriously debated. Has no one on this forum ever taken Economics 101?

Deprive people of the ability to reap the fruits of their labor and they will have no incentive to labor. Fabulous wealth is the reward for taking higher risk or for having some kind of scarce, valuable resource. Why would anyone take more risk (starting a new business or "disrupting" an industry) if their reward is capped? Why would anyone go through the hard work of acquiring a scarce resource or in investing in the training to learn a valuable skill if they will never see the dividends of that time and effort? The Great Escape out of poverty experienced by the West is perfectly correlated with the concept of free markets, extension of credit, private property, and other capitalistic ideals espoused in the Enlightenment. Before that, the global extreme poverty rate was something like 99%, compared to ~10% today. The fact that modern people think the solution to eliminating that remaining 10% is to abandon the engine that has brought us this far is the product of a lack of education of our own history.

I understand that some wealth is inherited and is held in the hands of entitled assholes who use it poorly. But the fact that they use it poorly is just my opinion, and I don't run the world. Why should A.Q. Smith or any centralized system of distribution that he can imagine be better able to use my money than I am?

The important thing is to teach the virtues of compassion, generosity, charity, patience, kindness, etc. Any society that lacks those virtues will result in unfairness, inequality, and suffering, regardless of whether or not (or how) wealth is distributed.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 11:06:22 AM by grandep »

NoStacheOhio

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #42 on: June 28, 2018, 11:32:35 AM »

I can't believe this is even being seriously debated. Has no one on this forum ever taken Economics 101?


Economics 101 is simplified to the point of being actively bad for sophisticated understanding of a complex and nuanced phenomenon (global human commerce). Just to scratch the surface, Econ101 generally ignores the entire concept of behavioral economics. There's a good reason for it, but when most people doesn't move past the very beginner level, it creates more problems than it solves.

Also, tax rates were much higher in the post-WWII boom era.

grandep

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #43 on: June 28, 2018, 11:37:10 AM »

I can't believe this is even being seriously debated. Has no one on this forum ever taken Economics 101?


Economics 101 is simplified to the point of being actively bad for sophisticated understanding of a complex and nuanced phenomenon (global human commerce). Just to scratch the surface, Econ101 generally ignores the entire concept of behavioral economics. There's a good reason for it, but when most people doesn't move past the very beginner level, it creates more problems than it solves.

Even a rudimentary understanding of basic economic principles, i.e. incentives, would lead one to immediately disregard the suggestions of the article as absurd. No behavioral economics needed in this case.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #44 on: June 28, 2018, 11:49:15 AM »
Even a rudimentary understanding of basic economic principles, i.e. incentives, would lead one to immediately disregard the suggestions of the article as absurd. No behavioral economics needed in this case.

Behavioral economics applies to all economics that happen in reality. Basic economic principles are a completely theoretical construct.

Did you actually read the posts from January, when this thread started? Nobody in this thread took anything in the article at face value. Literally zero people advocated forcible redistribution. At worst, there was some mild ethical critiques of the ultra-rich.

grandep

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #45 on: June 28, 2018, 12:02:20 PM »
Even a rudimentary understanding of basic economic principles, i.e. incentives, would lead one to immediately disregard the suggestions of the article as absurd. No behavioral economics needed in this case.

Behavioral economics applies to all economics that happen in reality. Basic economic principles are a completely theoretical construct.

Aligning people's incentives to achieve desired outcomes is not theoretical, but rather the entire aim of good public policy.

Quote
Did you actually read the posts from January, when this thread started? Nobody in this thread took anything in the article at face value. Literally zero people advocated forcible redistribution. At worst, there was some mild ethical critiques of the ultra-rich.

The first four words of this thread are "This article is excellent".

NoStacheOhio

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #46 on: June 28, 2018, 12:17:04 PM »
Even a rudimentary understanding of basic economic principles, i.e. incentives, would lead one to immediately disregard the suggestions of the article as absurd. No behavioral economics needed in this case.

Behavioral economics applies to all economics that happen in reality. Basic economic principles are a completely theoretical construct.

Aligning people's incentives to achieve desired outcomes is not theoretical, but rather the entire aim of good public policy.

Quote
Did you actually read the posts from January, when this thread started? Nobody in this thread took anything in the article at face value. Literally zero people advocated forcible redistribution. At worst, there was some mild ethical critiques of the ultra-rich.

The first four words of this thread are "This article is excellent".

OK? One person sort of agreed with the article, and still didn't advocate redistribution. Did you read any of the posts in the middle? You just came into this thread arguing against things that nobody is saying, and acting like you're the only one who understands economics.

Re: incentives - you're dreaming if you think you can achieve a desired outcome using incentives without considering behavioral economics. We've proven time and again that people don't act "rationally" defined the way economists use the word.

grandep

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #47 on: June 28, 2018, 12:44:13 PM »
Even a rudimentary understanding of basic economic principles, i.e. incentives, would lead one to immediately disregard the suggestions of the article as absurd. No behavioral economics needed in this case.

Behavioral economics applies to all economics that happen in reality. Basic economic principles are a completely theoretical construct.

Aligning people's incentives to achieve desired outcomes is not theoretical, but rather the entire aim of good public policy.

Quote
Did you actually read the posts from January, when this thread started? Nobody in this thread took anything in the article at face value. Literally zero people advocated forcible redistribution. At worst, there was some mild ethical critiques of the ultra-rich.

The first four words of this thread are "This article is excellent".

OK? One person sort of agreed with the article, and still didn't advocate redistribution. Did you read any of the posts in the middle? You just came into this thread arguing against things that nobody is saying, and acting like you're the only one who understands economics.
The article did advocate redistribution, and the poster advocated the article, not only by calling it excellent but by the mere fact that he shared it on this forum. I "came into this thread" and expressed my opinion, as have you, and my opinion was that the ideas expressed in the article (a "moral income limit") were so fundamentally flawed and patently absurd that I was surprised to see that they received any kind of serious debate whatsoever.

I agree with you that behavioral economics are critical in evaluating complex human behavior and I never said (at least, never intended to) that it should not be considered. I disagree, however, that one can discredit any application of elementary economics, even to an obviously flawed idea, simply by saying that "Oh but humans sometimes act irrationally". Of course we do, but often we do act rationally, and if basic economic theory couldn't tell us anything then the dismal science would truly be useless. Surely you would agree that one does not need to introduce calculus to see that the statement "2+2=5" is wrong?

GuitarStv

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #48 on: June 29, 2018, 03:56:04 PM »
If humans acted rationally, the problem of climate change wouldn't exist.

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Re: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"
« Reply #49 on: September 07, 2018, 10:29:52 PM »
In my opinion, if we took away all the wealth in America and redistributed it equally to all the 380 Million people, in 30 years the money would all end up with the same distribution as it was before the redistribution. The smart people who work hard would accumulate the wealth back and the idiots would be left with nothing. Again.