Friday, August 17, 2012

The Envy of the Rich

I continue to be perplexed by the notion that somehow the "rich" (and I put that in scare quotes because many who have been defined as rich by politicians or nothing of the sort) must "give back" to society in general. The rich, if they got their wealth honestly, have nothing to apologize for, and owe society nothing. In the American Thinker today, an article by Arnon Rosenthal entitled From the Giving Pledge to Totalitarianism makes the point that if the so-called "rich" are not secure in their wealth, then none of us are.

Follow along with me here. You have a right to life, given you by nature and nature's God. A corollary of the right to life is the right to self defense. Because each human has the same rights as every other human, we each have a right to liberty. In order to sustain your life, you have a right to property. Thus you have a right to shelter, clothing, food, and all the things needed to sustain your life. Note here that the fact that every other human being has the same rights as you do, you must defend your life, and acquire property on your own. You may not have the use of another for your own ends.

Now, of course, since you own your life, you also have the right to trade some of your time and skills for money, which can in turn, be traded for property. Money is therefore equal to property. One may also form contracts with others to pool your property, and form corporations. This is an abbreviated statement of how our rights came about, and the limits of them.

Note, that each individual has rights to his own property, and can use it, trade it, buy it or sell it, or give it away as he sees fit. But he does not have a right to the property of others, without justly compensating them for it. Charity is property freely given out of a sense of altruism. In Christian theology, we are admonished to recognize the poor, and to give freely to them, as Christ has freely given of himself. Warren Buffet, if he is giving away have his fortune for the right reasons, is exhibiting a noble tendency in man. But if he is intimidated into believing he must give it away or it will be confiscated, that is a very different thing entirely.  Essentially, if Buffet is being intimidated, or threatened, then his wealth is being stolen from him.

When government taxes you at the point of a gun, and then gives that money to another as welfare, that is theft, and slavery. One person has used the productive capacity of another without just compensation to gain property for himself.

The envy of the rich has been with us since Biblical times, but it must be fought continuously. I had a piece back on November 1, 2008 which you can read here in which Andrew Tallman argued that money in the bank is an IOU from society for excess production of goods and services. Essentially, society owes Warren Buffet, not the other way around. Thought of in this way, rather than envying the rich, we should be thankful that they have made such abundance available to us. In addition, we should all strive to become rich because that makes more available to others. Rather than seeing the existence of the rich as diminishing us, we should see them as building us all up. Their excess productivity makes it possible for each of us to have jobs and earn property for ourselves.

Note too that when politicians incite envy of the rich, they are attempting to manipulate us for their own purposes.  Don't let them do it.  When Obama says that "You didn't build that!" think about this, who does he believe sacrificed, and risked his wealth, to build it.  If that person, or group of persons did not exist, would it have been built?  You have the answer right there.       


  1. Good point at the end. The roads/bridges/whatever that Mr. Obama touted as necessarily preceding an entrepreneur's success had to be built with tax money taken from those working for a living. The businesses along that route paid for the road before it could be paved.

  2. Rev. Paul,

    Good to hear from you. Another point is that everybody had equal access to those roads (which makes them legitimate tax purposes) but only the business owner decided to use the roads for a business that brings in a profit.

    God bless,