Author Topic: "Its basically just immoral to be rich"  (Read 3218 times)

Eucalyptus

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 279
  • Location: South Australia
"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

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 614
  • Location: Canada
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

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 279
  • Location: South Australia
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

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 428
  • Location: Colorado
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?
Able was I, ere I saw Elba.

ender

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3985
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

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 86
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

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 970
  • Age: 51
  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
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.
“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

barbaz

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 140
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

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 49
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

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 140
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

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5000
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

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 21
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

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 319
  • Location: Minnesota
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

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 49
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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1831
  • Location: Cleveland
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.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/digging-out-of-a-hole/

Racer X

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 49
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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1831
  • Location: Cleveland
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.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/digging-out-of-a-hole/

trollwithamustache

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 374
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

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 49
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

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 119
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

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9994
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 319
  • Location: Minnesota
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

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 166
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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1069
  • Location: PNW
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 abundantly—only 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.
“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. What’s important is leading an examined life.”

Yvon Chouinard

obstinate

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 722
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

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 140
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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1558
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
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.
SWAMI (Satisfied Working Advanced Mustachian Individual) 1 stash, 1 DW, 7 Mini MM's...
God, Family, Country. Everything else is details.

kayvent

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 614
  • Location: Canada
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

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5000
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

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5000
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

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9994
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 83
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 you’re 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

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
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

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1831
  • Location: Cleveland
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.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/digging-out-of-a-hole/

omachi

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 319
  • Location: Minnesota
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

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 614
  • Location: Canada
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?