"Petty name calling and inflammatory language are not a substitute for supporting evidence and do not prove an argument. The volume of words in last week’s “Against Philanthropy” serves only to mask the weakness of the position that is hidden nearly half-way into the editorial. It is appalling to refer to philanthropy as “evil”. It is equally appalling to vilify a person for being generous. Bloomberg and Romney (and other “rich” people) have their wealth taxed twice – once at the corporate level and a second time at the personal level. They also choose to give generously to charity: Romney at least 10% of his earnings; Bloomberg is well-known for his donations. The average American gives far less a percentage his or her income to charity. Taxation is our society’s chosen means by which we provide of the common good and address social concerns; wealth redistribution is “evil” and serves only to punish success and stifle individual and societal growth.
Everyone deserves to be rich. Nothing in nature or human law, neither any universal moral code, prescribes a level of wealth beyond which a person must give away his excess wealth, property, or time. In reality, not everyone works to the best of his ability; not everyone gives 100% to society. And our society has chosen capitalism as the economic model to A) choose which contributions have value, B) determine when one contribution has more value than another, and C) determine the perceived value of that contribution to society. (Jesus was no Commie. Reference the parable of the talents. He also taught that greed, not wealth, is the thing that is evil, and that generosity – read philanthropy – is a noble and desirable character trait. He taught that everyone, even the “poor” should live within their means such that they can prepare against calamity and share generously with others.)
In Turkey several years ago, I watched people walk long distances to draw and carry water from wells to their open-pit cookfires to boil it for cooking and drinking. The poorest in America has wealth beyond the imagining of most people in the rest of the world. No one is forced to purchase a Microsoft product. People are free to purchase alternatives and direct their money to a poorer company. Through personal choice, each person adds to the wealth of the “rich”, or not.
As humans, each of us has differing skills and abilities. There is no evidence to support the notion that any two people, working to the best their abilities and skills, produce an equal result. A wheat farmer in the Mojave Desert, working at his best, simply will not grow as much wheat as a farmer in the Midwest. A person, singularly skilled with an abacus, does not provide a value to our society equal to the person creating (or using) a computer.
Nothing in nature supports the idea that all efforts produce equal outcomes. Nature and human societies reward those that produce the greater results. There exists no natural or moral standard stating that it is “obscene and morally reprehensible to allow a disproportional share resources to fall under the control of the arbitrary whims of a few quirky rich dudes.” No moral code tells us when one’s wealth has become obscene, nor states the authority that says where the wealth should go.
Our Declaration of Independence proclaims that we are equal in our right to pursue happiness, not that we will achieve equal results. Equal distribution of wealth is the enemy of equal rights because it arbitrarily destroys the rights of one person in favor of another; it equates individual wealth with individual worth; it fosters mediocrity and minimum effort. Who among us wants someone else to say when we have enough? Who among us wants someone else to say who is more deserving of the fruits of our own labors?
Our world isn’t perfect. Hating the rich and confiscating and redistributing what we gave them through our own choices will not create the perfect world.
- Michael Russ
- Middle Class Tulsan"