Join our Newsletter

News 042 Is Wealth Bad?



The following is an essay I was moved to write. It's relatively long so read it if you're so inclined. If you read it, let me hear from you, OK? If you disagree, I truly welcome your viewpoints, but please remember that we all have a valid human right to express our heartfelt opinions. Just tell me yours. I am interested in that.

This week, with Steve Jobs' death at a relatively early age and Wall Street protests, I feel it's important to create one's own viewpoints and avoid generalities that one may hear. Generalities and proclamations not made entirely rationally are all over the media and it's important these days to wear logic and ethics armor.  To expect to be swayed but not to let one's feet slide with the undertow of mob mentality. Yes, it may be hard to hold one's ground but it is vital. Suddenly lots of people cheer wildly about how horrible someone is for not paying forward (read on) and what do you and I perhaps feel drawn toward? Is there an urge to pipe in with the throng? Sure, an urge. Yet it is not an urge to permit to become action beyond taking note of it.

I have been hearing this week that it is bad to be rich.

Would you fault a child in school who had come up with a great and strikingly original science project, chastise (find fault with) him when people applaud and reach to him to find out more and get involved? And if people gave him some money to go on to further research and study?

If your child had made a killing with a lemonade stand at a school baseball game, would you take him home and require that he share all his earnings with every child in school? Would that encourage him to repeat his enterprise?

If your older son takes the initiative when his siblings refuse to help and does all the dishes himself in anticipation of your smile, hey, HE deserves the hug or prize, right? If you insist that he share it with the undeserving brothers and sisters, the prize loses value, his work is sucked of validity, his morale may well have probably tanked. He has good reason to register a mannerly complaint about that, don't you think? And if a parent were to diffuse the reward by including those who did not earn it, the non-helpers get the idea they can get something for nothing and that sloth pays. Not a good road to head down.

All that pertains as much to a society as to a family.

A free market tends to let people gravitate toward what they want and simply requires that one has enough responsibility to look into the worth of what one buys. A free market will adjust toward rewarding what's actually valuable after some time. Information channels do need to be left open. False advertising ought to be actionable. And the truly good stuff will be learned about. The actual innovators, with just laws and a lack of serious corruption, should receive rewards more than the copycats who also may yet serve a purpose and perhaps forward the line of discovery. 

There is the factor of product quality — that which is touted as good, is it in truth good or is it a con-job? Well, eventually or soon, the market will sift through the scams. Thank goodness for word of mouth and reviews.  Word regarding unworthy or evil products and services spreads (as long as people can communicate) and world of great products spreads as fast.

The point is, those who work, who produce worthwhile things, who contribute and create, deserve rewards. Those who don't help don't merit a reward. Happily, most people seem to feel and know they need to contribute: contribution and help make life bearable, make life better the more one gives and gets, make life delicious. It's interchange, at the heart of life itself. 

Children love to help. It's a natural urge. To the contrary, to disallow people their contribution is to mash them into degradation. 

No one likes to get something for nothing, really. It's upsetting, unbalanced, it violates one's deepest integrity, even if that integrity has lain concealed and inactive for eons. At some level, people know the injustice of taking without exchange.

So when Steve Jobs made (or helped make) work that monumental science project in his garage way back when and brought it to market, didn't he deserve riches when people wanted it in droves?

If we say, money is evil, then we say, reward or good attention for giving people what they need and want is bad. But how could that be bad? It's not evil, by any stretch, to offer something good to others.

And hey, if wealth is bad, we sure run ourselves ragged trying to attain it.  LOL

Some have stolen, or sinned their way to the top, cheated, lied, murdered as our dear Rockefellers, Rothschilds and Morgans, it has been told, did to get to their pinnacles of wealth — and since then, some others we won't mention here, following in that "grand tradition" — pun in there, by the way.  ;o)   All right, when it's known that someone has done that, the rewards of wealth appear to us ethical people as unearned, right? The man who is wealthy by harming, stealing, cheating has robbed others — as in the banking and wall street bailouts now to be paid by taxpayers and taxpayers children. I call that theft!

Hooray for those protesting this! 

The criminal wealthy, let's refer to them as that, have to do a lot of conniving, lying, and paying PR men to cover their crimes and make them look like good philanthropists all out for everyone's benefit. They'll get things named after them and they come to be revered. Creeeepy.

A criminally rich person or one who supports or condones this sort of thing also robs himself. He deprives himself of well-being, spiritually and mentally where it really counts. He forfeits his peace of mind, no matter the practiced smile and white teeth for the public.

But a man (or woman, I am using the generic word, "man," as in "mankind") who creates something that others need and want as proven in the marketplace (as Steve Jobs did) and which has not done more harm than good and so on, that fellow has EARNED his money. It's honest money. And when you (I mean YOU) earn a bunch of money (let's say "when," not "if"), won't you hold to your right to spend it as you want?

It's easy to say that we all should get a piece of the pie. It is better to see that we all should contribute something of value — help pick the fruit, make the butter, fuel the oven, clean up afterwards — bake the pie and earn our pieces of it.

Entitlement appeals perhaps if we let pity for those in trouble cause us to expect they could never help themselves or could not be brought closer to learning or regaining ability. Feeling that some people should be entitled to get without giving can be viewed as right, also, if we truthfully don't assess their potential abilities as of much value. I have spoken to some people about this point and at the end of their thought line was just that: people are too stupid, people are too lazy, people are too incapable. 

In fact, as shown by handicapped people who learn a skill and young kids who master sweeping a floor, etc., just about anyone can learn or get off his rumpus and whip up some way to give to others something they want and thus make a living.
A Socialist society, for all idealism, leaves out these facts...that people have innate willingness and people like to contribute; that people feel degraded if they are deprived of the opportunity to give a good exchange or to earn their own bread; and that people can learn skills unless maimed or aged too much. Then they need to be tended to and a society can certainly pick up that cause.                                                  

Sometimes people need a leg up. Of course! Let's give it! It is at least as beneficial to the donor as to the donated to, in my experience. Religious groups, churches, etc., Leagues of Lady Aardvarks  :o), the Elks, the Fraternal Orders of Alien Animals, such as these have traditionally run these needed organizations to restore people to better ground. Food for the temporarily disenfranchised, homes for the lost and needy, OF COURSE! Charity! Help at Thanksgiving with yummy meals for the hungry, toys at Christmas for tots in poor families, etc. I do stuff like that whenever I can, don't you? There are organizations that help keep kids off drugs and defend parents under siege by a government which appears to wish to dispense with those pesky parents who dare interfere with Big Pharma. Organizations to forward the arts, to save the oceans, etc.. Now, I only like to give to what I believe in, though. You, too?

My feeling is that to enforce this upon individuals through taxes, to make a whole society have to agree with mandates on who needs help and how much should be given, and what kind of help (if help it is, really) and a society that does not permit people to decide for themselves is itself a way of saying, "You're too stupid or selfish to help, so we'll make you give." As I said a moment ago, I don't find that to be observably valid. And what if someone vehemently disagrees that a certain "cause" should be supported? Like Planned Parenthood which will be supported if the government ha its way, with our taxes?
People are good at heart and can be brought up to learn the more ideal behaviors and rein in the bad. I'd say that most care deeply about others. They can be appealed to and informed and wow, the help that flows is sometimes overwhelming, as when there have been catastrophes in the world!  

Enforcing help is pretty much an insult to people and is just not necessary. Someone may have to man the phones to drive in donos but people will give. 




To REQUIRE someone to donate is, well, slapping on the shackles. I have enjoyed the rewards of being a giving person as did my father, most prominently, for he made a ton of money and helped create some of what Providence, RI has artistically happening now (its ballet, and I believe, some other arts activities.).

But no one had to twist his arm. These were HIS originated gifts. He saw the lack and he filled it out of love of humanity and art. And I can warrant you that, wherever he is, he's in better shape for that.

But if I get rich and only buy a mansion in the Apple Core Mountains and become a permanent hermit, if being that hermit means that I have cut my own reach toward the world of others with spiritual scissors, well, hey, I feel I would suffer for it. We ARE alive as/when/to the extent that we connect, right? And that means help. 

Now, I very briefly heard some talk on some news radio (if it's news, I usually will change the station but I was on a longish drive) that some people are putting down Steve Jobs for not adequately "paying forward." One certainly can criticize a very wealthy person for not doing that. He might be selfish. 

There are universal laws in play here. If one doesn't give back, well, isn't it clear that one now robs oneself of the spiritual satisfaction that helping and contributing to good things uniquely gives? Okay, so that's the punishment, ultimately, of someone who is miserly.

But one cannot force generosity and enlightenment any more than one can force a baby or a pet to love you.

So, to be honest, I don't know if Steve Jobs was a philanthropist or a miser, but I heard it said or implied in so many words, he was rich and don't we all know that rich = bad.

My first feeling is that WHETHER or not one Pays Forward is one's OWN CHOICE, though. And WHAT one supports is up to no one but oneself.
But hang on...maybe Steve Jobs did pay forward! Do you really know? Did Elizabeth Warren, the Mass. politician, know positively, when she stirred the crowd against successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs? She put people down who consider, per her mistakenly so, that they have singularly caused their own success.

Ms. Warren pointed out that no one makes it alone, that the roads the goods move on are roads "we built;" that the employees hired were ones "we" got educated, etc. Uhhh, pardonnez-moi, but who is "we"? and why doesn't "we" include the successful guy who also paid road and education taxes?

My jaw was too dropped to enunciate the "Whaaaa?" I was crying out mentally. A successful person is responsible for his success. He has stuck his neck out far. He has had to probe honestly and deeply to learn what works and what doesn't. I'd even say that he's as responsible for his success as the unsuccessful person is responsible for his failure, though his succeeding took a lot more work and smarts.

  As a note, the unsuccessful guy is best to discover just how it is that he screwed up. Finding out the causes of failures is an unavoidable part of moving toward success and those selfish, successful guys must've done a lot of self-correcting in order to end up with a smash hit. 'Course, Ms. Warren didn't mention to the crowd any of these facets of success. Does she not know them?

I'll give you the one fiber of truth in the poisonous apple she fed the crowd and it qualifies as hard fact: that others help. That one, tasty little snippet of truth was used to attract an unthinking crowd. It was the morsel they salivated at, bit into and which drew their approval. Moving on the truth that others assist, she maneuvered home her denigrating point, thus robbing successful entrepreneurs of credit for their successes and shaming them for not paying enough forward. It sickened me to listen.

What, think on this for a moment, what would less innovative, less endowed with genius, less driven people do without the visionaries and the movers and shakers of the world who CAUSE successful ventures and CREATE hitherto unimagined new tools and vistas upon life? 

This was, of course, a generality, a vast put-down of successful business people like Steve Jobs who seem therefore to owe everybody. Everybody? Yes, you know, everybody knows...the great Unnamed Everybody. When she declaimed successful people for not paying forward, to the cheering response of the crowd, did she know and appreciate what ticks in the hearts of successful businessmen? And who is she to define what's valuable? Or how wise is she in discerning what good effects may have rippled from Steve Jobs' actions? 

Maybe he inspired millions. Maybe the tools he put into the world have helped people connect. Maybe his creations have made art projects come to exist faster and better than if he had not done what he did. Maybe he donated to Antelopes International or the Fuzzy Organization for Serendipity of Cloud Meetings or whatever. I honestly don't know about Steve Jobs' philanthropy or lack of it and I am not going to bother, as that was his business but I DO know that what he helped create gave the world a big, fat lot. Whether you prefer Macs or pc's, he did his part to enhance our world.

Rich = bad. I just gotta tear this apart a bit more here, guys. It's such bull-pukky, I can barely type it. Any statement, you could overall say, that goes "ALL (whatever) is always (whatever)" is a generality and when we buy into them, those broad statements made about a whole class of things or persons, those "everybody knows" "facts," we are actually being mentally lazy, and underneath that, unethical. I think people know that claims that all whodjimafoogles swerve badly are untrue or partially true at best...and you see people who use this simplistic "thought," you see them having to defend themselves, hard.




All it takes for a truth-seeker is inspection of the singular piece of humanity in front of his eyes. He has to LOOK and from there, if he wants, he may indulge in opining about (coming to an opinion) or judging what he sees. Pretty simple process that starts with "look" — but it's not lazy.

Observation and contemplation are things that only an individual can do. I can't say to even a smart, caring person, "Please think for me and I'll be back in a hour to pick it up."  I won't have thought it myself; it's borrowed thought and not merely stale, it could be wrong.  I'll do my own contemplation, thanks!  :o)

I love this quote, thanks to a customer of mine whom I connected with on Facebook:


"Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind."    Leonardo da Vinci       

Wise and well put, eh? And this from a man who by observation alone drew in astonishing and accurate detail eddying water patterns of a stream, moving water passing obstacles, drops and so on. Look at what a master of observation can do. (Source of this is which I was unable to access when I clicked link.)

A quick detour: TV is crammed to overflowing with generalities that, if inspected, have little or nothing to do with any one individual or even with most individuals in a type. It also spews outright lies and can boggle and confuse, can distort and at least distract from the real issues. It asks us to accept without thought. It appeals to and tends to bring about the lazy mind.

TV forwards concepts best squelched or eradicated. Stupidity.......and drugs, violence, promiscuity, envy, war, materialism, "peeping-tom-ness" or spectatorism, rapaciousness, purposelessness, nasty competition, natter (complaint born of one's own carefully hidden misdeeds, as Shakespeare knew and others I can tell you about). Whew! Okay, I love some shows, especially old movies, good romantic comedies or sci-fi, time-travel anything but, what a lot of stupefyingly petty, false and degraded stuff oozes out of a TV set, eh?!
Any one rich person, as any one dark-skinned person, or Arab, or Jew, or old person, or salesman, or, or, who he is, fascinating, dull, eager, apathetic, crude, refined, smart, stupid, happy, sad, loving, hateful...I mean, of course! And that can change, too. Prejudices are generalities. Decisions leapt to or chanted in advance of any actual looking.

We may love to peg things but when we do that automatically, we suffer and and the world with us.




I am all for the protest, as the bailouts were no less than criminal, cheating the taxpayers of this country and making these uber-wealthy ("uber," "over everything" in German) people even more hyper-wealthy. Plus these particular wealthy people were rendered immune to natural consequences of mismanagement and theft, were saved from loss, bankruptcy, prison. Okay, fine. Yucky as heck but all right, that's what went down. 

No matter, some bad rich guys don't bleed evil into other people by association, those who also happen to be wealthy or striving for it. Might such conclusions perhaps be tainted with jealousy? with an attitude of entitlement (the world owes me)? One thing I feel is for darned sure: it is not tainted with reason (sane, logical rationality is what I mean by "reason" here).

I have had my say. Sigh, ahhh!



This week, I may have trouble getting right back to you with answers to your letters, but please do let me know what you have to say about this, OK?



Much love and thanks!


Evan Symonds