It's Not Bad To Be Rich; It's Just Bad For Bad People To Be Rich

In my opinion, a big stumbling block to achieving wealth is the belief that wanting more money, more profits, more assets is a character flaw.

As a society we don't have a problem suppressing or criticizing that attitude in individuals. And yet we turn around and celebrate that same attitude in corporations. We patronize big companies - "trusted brands" - by not only buying from them, but also by preferring to work for them.

But of course, the criticism stems at least partly from the selfishness of wanting more and also because wanting more for yourself is greed. The conventional thinking is that we should share what we have.

And you can't really fault that logic. We should share what we have. But, like everything else, too much kindness is also a bad thing.

For example: charity, outreach programs, conditional cash transfers and general kindness helps a lot. But they're also temporary solutions. Once we run out of money to give, what then?

Of course, we can always make more money right? Well, in a way... No. We can make the same amount of money again. There's a bit of a difference.

We can help the same set of people again, but not more people. And we can't help them anymore then we did before. We can maybe help them a little differently. But overall, we can't do more for them.

It might be more helpful to think of it this way. We can run our lives like a non-profit organization, giving out most if not all of our earnings to charity and other worthwhile causes. And it's a noble thing to do.

Or we can run our lives like a responsible corporate citizen. Yes, we'll make a profit and keep aiming for capital growth. But we'll also give a significant portion to charity. This way we can keep give more instead of giving more of the same.

And if our aim is really to help, this might be a more telling example: When disaster strikes, who is able to send more help? NGOs or giant corporations like GMA and ABS-CBN?

More to the point, when we send help to whom do we send it through?

The reality is, the bigger a company the likelier it is to send help. If nothing else, it's good for business and branding.

It's not bad to be rich, it's just bad for bad people to be rich. But if all the good people just keep giving away money, who then becomes rich?

Get rich. Give more.

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photo credit: webzer via photopin cc

4 comments:

  1. That's a little off the point, but since you brought it up...

    My argument simply states that, for example, instead of providing all your "extra" income to providing stuff for your children, parents,the church, and other relatives, you should keep some (preferably a good portion) and invest. Thereby enriching yourself, and also increasing your capacity to help.

    Your argument seems to imply that we shouldn't bother helping anyone.

    Even if that isn't the case, your argument assumes that there is no one worthy of help. And if there was, no one is capable of discerning who genuinely needs help and who is just leeching off. And it further implies that good fortune only corrupts/de-motivates people ("wala nang kakayod")

    I've heard (rather sad)stories of relatives leaching off hard-working OFWs. So your point is more than valid.

    However, there are at least 3 kinds of people who can receive help. First, as you mentioned, those that don't want to do anything with their lives and simply wish to slack off. Second, those who need help so they can change their situation (think beneficiaries of microloans). Third, those who already don't have the capability to take care of themselves. I assume you would not turn away your own parents, or even the parents of your wife when the time comes that they become too old to take care of themselves.

    As we go through life, it's not a bad idea to help those who've helped us along the way. Or to help friends and relatives, simply because that's that friends and family are for.

    While the potential for abuse is there, one bad "donation" every now and then shouldn't be enough to stop us from "repaying" those who've helped us nor to give up the chance to change someone's fate for the better.

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    1. You and I seem to agree. I think you just choose to focus on your revealingly specific case.

      I'm pretty sure if your relative(?) had an honor student and simply could not afford to send the child to school through no fault of their own, you probably would not mind helping either.

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  2. I concur. If we get rich, one of our plans is to send our poor relatives to school. However, the scholarship is subject to conditions like maintaining a certain grade. They must be willing to help themselves also.

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    1. Nice! Yeah, I don't want to sound heartless, but chances to help are limited, so we can;t afford to "waste" them on someone who doesn't really want it.

      ..Though I'm sure whoever you pick will do great. I've often found that it's the people who've been deprived of a chance that do their best when they finally get it.

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