Social Question

thisismyusername's avatar

Can you morally justify the existence of billionaires?

Asked by thisismyusername (2935points) January 21st, 2018

Do you believe that the existence of billionaires is something that can be justified? And if so, how?

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148 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Every one wants more money. Its a tradition and common goal in our culture to want to be rich. It shouldn’t be shocking that someone accomplished becoming a billionaire. Its ok as long as you don’t take advantage of people to become rich.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Sure as long as they became that way through honest hard work, and great business choices,and not exploiting the system or low end workers.

longgone's avatar

Definitely not. Of course, I can’t justify that I can pay for chocolate bars and flights across the world either. But I do, because I’m more selfish than I think.

SergeantQueen's avatar

Well, not all of them are bad. Some of them work truly hard for their money and have truly earned their social status

thisismyusername's avatar

@SQUEEKY2: “Sure as long as they became that way through honest hard work, and great business choices,and not exploiting the system or low end workers.”

@SergeantQueen: “Some of them work truly hard for their money and have truly earned their social status”

We can discuss the myth of the self-made billionaire, but I’m more concerned about the fact that billionaires exist and how we can justify their existence in a world filled with human suffering and poverty.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I would like to know @thisismyusername why you feel the need to copy and paste our answers every time you address one of us?

thisismyusername's avatar

@SQUEEKY2: “I would like to know @thisismyusername why you feel the need to copy and paste our answers every time you address one of us?”

Fluther doesn’t have proper conversation threads, so it’s difficult to understand what people are actually responding to. It’s insufficient to simply say, @SQUEEKY2, I disagree. Anyway, this is how written conversations work. Quote, respond.

stanleybmanly's avatar

That attitude about billionaires arriving where they do through hard work deserves some looking at. Has the CEO at Monsanto worked any harder than the field hand picking the tomatoes in your salad? But more importantly, the lesson we live through now is that billionaires are impossible in a society free from rampant endemic poverty. It’s a phenomenon that was hidden in former times, but here and now, it’s right out in the open.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The thing to understand from the outset is that the system we live under more than justifies the billionaires as well as the several thousand people driven toward impoverishment required in the creation of each of them.

thisismyusername's avatar

@stanleybmanly: “That attitude about billionaires arriving where they do through hard work deserves some looking at.”

It’s just a myth.

But even those that subscribe to the myth should be able to answer the original question of ethical justification.

@stanleybmanly: “It’s a phenomenon that was hidden in former times, but here and now, it’s right out in the open.”

If I am reading you properly, you sound optimistic that this won’t be tolerated much longer. I’m wondering what informs your optimism here.

janbb's avatar

I have no need to justify them.

SergeantQueen's avatar

Yeah, so billionaires- self made or not have money that belongs to them. No one is entitled to anyone elses money. If it’s in someones bank account, it technically belongs to them. If I am a billionaire, I’m not going to just give my money to others randomly. I’d still be smart with it and make sure that those who are getting my money aren’t going to be stupid with it.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@thisismyusername You’re NOT reading me properly (once again), though you’re probably right in thinking it won’t be tolerated much longer. Back in the late 20s (the age most closely resembling our own) lyrics to the popular tune ‘Aint we got fun’ ended the final verse “there’s nothing surer —the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. There is powerful conditioning designed to convince us that the 2 facts have nothing to do with one another. As it grows increasingly obvious that each is dependent on the other, the narrative must shift from denial of the fact that they are interconnected to one about reasons for the outcome. This is critical if the system where money concentrates at the top is to be maintained.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So you think the idea of a self made billionaire is a myth? What about Bill Gates?

stanleybmanly's avatar

@SergeantQueen Suppose all of us agree that we have no right to confiscate the billionaire’s money and focus instead on why the game is rigged such that his bank balance expands while yours declines. In fact what would you say if I claimed that in a roundabout way the billionaire is extracting money from your account to fatten his own balance?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I should add I have no problem as long as they pay their percentage of tax as well.

stanleybmanly's avatar

You can’t fault the billionaire for acting in his own interest. If the system is rigged to my advantage, of course I’m going to do what it takes to sustain it.
And the one indisputable necessity in a society where everyone has the vote (theoretically) is a suitable explanation for why I prosper as you sink into the muck.

thisismyusername's avatar

@Dutchess_III: “So you think the idea of a self made billionaire is a myth? What about Bill Gates?”

It has nothing to do with what I think. This is just a fact.

Let me ask you this: SInce you believe that billionaires are self-made, please elaborate on the formula. In other words, how does one go about doing this? Let’s take a hypothetical person – John. John lives with his mother, a cashier. You knock on their door and provide them with the recipe for becoming a billionaire. Make your pitch….

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@thisismyusername Save enough money to wait for a better offer. Eventually it will build on itself and you would make more.

canidmajor's avatar

@thisismyusername, your choice of language in your question dictates that all of this has everything to do with what you think.

thisismyusername's avatar

@canidmajor: ”@thisismyusername, your choice of language in your question dictates that all of this has everything to do with what you think.”

What would be your pitch, then?

SergeantQueen's avatar

Is there proof the majority of these billionaires are stealing money from the poor? I honestly don’t know

thisismyusername's avatar

@canidmajor: ”@thisismyusername, your choice of language in your question dictates that all of this has everything to do with what you think.”

Just to make sure we stay on topic, try to limit the conversational sabotage. I’ll try to keep things clear for you…

@stanleybmanly: “That attitude about billionaires arriving where they do through hard work deserves some looking at.”

@thisismyusername: “It’s just a myth.

But even those that subscribe to the myth should be able to answer the original question of ethical justification.”

@Dutchess_III: “So you think the idea of a self made billionaire is a myth?”

@thisismyusername: “It has nothing to do with what I think. This is just a fact.”

@canidmajor: ”@thisismyusername, your choice of language in your question dictates that all of this has everything to do with what you think.”

My “choice of language”? “It’s just a myth”? What about “Donald Trump is president”? What about that statement of fact dictates that all of this has everything to do with what I think?

Please to try focus. Thanks!

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Can you expand on why you think Bill Gates is not a self made billioniare?

thisismyusername's avatar

@Dutchess_lll: “Can you expand on why you think Bill Gates is not a self made billioniare?”

Sure. But you can pick a handful of anecdotes and we could disagree with some of the details and it wouldn’t change the fact that there is no path to being a billionaire. Try to answer my question about the pitch to John, and you might see what I’m saying.

That said, even someone like Bill Gates was born into relative wealth and privilege (son a lawyer), and benefited from an environment that he didn’t generate – from his family’s wealth and their ability to send him to private school, to the overall luck and time he was brought up to his natural abilities.

But this is still not even a concern of mine. I’m talking about the existence of billionaires in a world of such poverty and suffering. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about Bill Gates or the Koch brothers. How do you justify such wealth? Bezos made $36,000 per minute in 2017. There are people who are struggling to feed their kids or pay for necessary health treatment that work far harder than him and don’t make that in a year.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

There have always been priviliged among us. It’s the nature of hiarachy that all animals instinctively build their societies around.
It is what it is. A lot of things just aren’t fair.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

If we couldn’t dream, or strive , to become a bllionaire then people would become self aware of the dream and wake up. Gov’t society allows some minor victories , like Bill Gates, to control the masses through hope. Look at this way, ” would you play Monopoly if one side owns all the hotels from the start”? What kind of effort would you give if you know you are going to lose? We are coming to a tipping point where people are getting ready ro call bs on the system and quit playing and take their toys home and look for another game.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I know several people who were born into great privilege and are anything but billionaires. This whole “privilege” thing actually has little to do with it. Just because someone has been immensely successful does not mean they have “exploited” anyone to get there. In the western world we don’t exactly live in a time of “poverty or suffering” either. Even the lowest tiers in society are enjoying a standard of living that is unheard of in other parts of the world. Many of the billionaires are partly responsible for this as well.
CEO, CFO and COO pay however…. we probably should visit that one. Most of these people are not “makers” and don’t deserve the salary they draw. That’s where the good ole boy network resides.

KNOWITALL's avatar

No, I cant justify it. I think ostentatious living is in poor taste. Good thing its not a problem Im likely to have.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Of course there is no ethical justification for obscene wealth traveling hand in hand with abject poverty. But you will get absolutely nowhere protesting the immorality defining that reality. Clearly the present trend is unsustainable. But make no mistake. Those benefitting are striving mightily to assure that whatever follows the current looting of the middle class perpetuates the same results. Today all of us realize that “things ain’t right”. The fight is on in convincing the population as to why. Which explanation for our sorry state is closer to the truth?

stanleybmanly's avatar

@ARE you kidding me You don’t consider the good ole boy network a matter of privilege? And don’t fool yourself. There’s exploitation all up and down the chain. The guy who gets that promotion for cutting his staff to the point that those remaining work themselves to death. The fella who reduces expenses by firing those with health issues generated through working for his firm. All of those people playing the game responsible for the housing collapse who pushed tens of millions toward impoverishment and walked away scott free with billions of the suckers’ dollars. We live in a system of relentless exploitation. Those billboards in front of your house, the endless phone calls, where minimum wage exploited souls seek to extort your money. We’re like animals in a pit with every dog for himself. AND THAT IS THE WAY IT IS DELIBERATELY ARRANGED.

Soubresaut's avatar

Apparently, one of the Koch brothers gave half a million dollars of campaign contributions to Paul Ryan shortly after the tax bill passed. Apparently, too, that isn’t the only hefty donation they’ve doled out in the aftermath, and they’re not the only ones.

I don’t think there’s a way to justify such inequity in this world where some few people have excess on top of excess, and others don’t have enough to make ends meet. The only real justification seems to be, “well, that’s the way it is.” And that’s not a moral justification. That’s just a shrug of the shoulders.

I’d be more okay with that explanation if I got the sense that we were gradually moving, as local, and national, and global societies, towards an era of better equity and better access for all.

I feel like I’m instead watching as many of the wealthiest figure out ways to increase their own share of the wealth while batting others away—and limiting options/opportunities of those others under the guise of increasing everyone’s “freedom.”

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@stanleybmanly It would be a stretch IMO, but you may have a different definition of what it means to be privileged. I mean is it a privilege to be a member of the mafia?

canidmajor's avatar

@thisismyusername, I should have specified that I was responding to your comment to @Dutchess_lll.
As for the conversational nature, this is in Social.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Billionaires are only 0.00002% of the population. They are an anomoly.

thisismyusername's avatar

@canidmajor: ”@thisismyusername, I should have specified that I was responding to your comment to @Dutchess_lll.”

If only there were some way to quote someone so we know what you were responding to….

janbb's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me But they have a disproportionate weight in politics because they throw huge amounts of money at candidates.

Mariah's avatar

Regardless of how someone became a billionaire, if they earned it themselves or what-have-you, that is more money than anyone reasonably needs, and it is unconscionable when we have people living on the streets and dying because they can’t afford medical care.

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Rarebear's avatar

So let’s make the assumption that billionaires are somehow morally wrong as the question implies. What dollar amount is the cut off? Is 1 billion bad? What about 199.9 million? Still bad? What about 10 million? Oh, 10 million is okay? What about 20 million?

Zaku's avatar

I don’t think that billionaires exist is necessarily a problem. Some people are decent and capable of simply enjoying wealth. It’s the billionaires who are after power and ever-increasing wealth and who go after it in ways that hurt everyone and everything else (and the related thinking and behavior of large corporations, banks, government representatives, etc) that are the problem.

thisismyusername's avatar

@Rarebear: “So let’s make the assumption that billionaires are somehow morally wrong as the question implies. What dollar amount is the cut off? Is 1 billion bad? What about 199.9 million? Still bad? What about 10 million? Oh, 10 million is okay? What about 20 million?”

Have we gone there yet? I mean, have we resolved the issue of billionaires? I specifically asked about billionaires because it would seem a rather easy one to tackle. I’m curious if you are able to justify the existence of billionaires.

I suspect you won’t like my answers to your questions regarding the cutoff. But I think taking the billionaire question first makes sense.

@Zaku: “Some people are decent and capable of simply enjoying wealth.”

So, the existence of people like Gates, Bezos, and Buffet who (combined) own more wealth than the poorest half of the US population isn’t a moral issue?

What if we shrunk this to a micro level and asked what we would think if we were on an island of 100 people, and this level of inequality existed. Wouldn’t this seem obscene?

Rarebear's avatar

Okay is 1 billion dollars bad?

Zaku's avatar

@thisismyusername The existence of them isn’t necessarily a moral issue itself, per se, no. It may tend to be a sign that there are severe problems, and I think that is the case, but their net worth itself is not a moral issue.

Notice that you are talking about wealth, not what people have in their life. Wealth is a number in an imaginary game that we have social agreements (and disagreements) about. But what affects people is real things and actions – do people have clothes, food, shelter, water, and access to education, health care, freedom and opportunity to do real things.

With the current set of agreements and laws, people tend to think of wealth as the same as having their needs, wants, and power. But that I think is at least one of the main roots of the problem. The fact that a few people managed to amass obscene amounts of wealth is a symptom and byproduct, but it’s not the problem itself. True, combined with the agreements and laws (q.v. Citizens United) we suffer with, having people (and banks and corporations) with obscene concentrations of wealth is a huge problem and moral issue, but mainly because of those agreements and laws and situations where those people (and more usually, organizations and their agents) can use their wealth to amass power and laws and corrupt government representatives and media companies and more wealth, etc. Those agreements and laws and corrupt politicians are the problem.

For instance, if it were a tightly-enforced crime for a person or corporation to manipulate our government, punishable by removal of wealth and reorganizing or disbanding of corporations, then we wouldn’t have to keep fighting off nasty corporate laws over and over because the first time someone were trying to own public water, or hydrofracking on public land, or messing with Net Neutrality, there would be investigations and the responsible lobbyists, legislators, administrators and corporations would all be removed and banned from positions of power, and the corporate charters would be amended to prevent such misbehavior.

And if our society would provide for the needs of people instead of perpetuating the agreement that everyone must live in fear of being homeless, hungry and abandoned unless we keep out bank balances positive in the free job market, then it wouldn’t impact people in the same way.

Also, the individuals are only part of the wealth disparity situation – one group of interrelated & inter-owned banks owns most of the wealth on the planet and busily charges compound interest to the rest of the planet.

I think what really needs to change are the patterns of thought. The problem isn’t a certain level of individual wealth, but that people and organizations with excessive wealth and power continue to focus on getting ever more and more, that we don’t meet everyone’s needs and blame the poor and weak, that our industry destroys our planet by over-exploitation for wealth, and that our governments are corrupt and in the pockets of big money, and that the people and their governments have no teeth to stop corruption and abuses, and to negate the resulting corporate laws and charters.

tinyfaery's avatar

No. It’s immoral to have so much while others have nothing.

thisismyusername's avatar

@Zaku: “The fact that a few people managed to amass obscene amounts of wealth is a symptom and byproduct, but it’s not the problem itself.”

I think we’re largely in agreement here. Don’t read my specific question as a statement that the problem is the existence of billionaires. Of course, it’s a symptom. But it sounds as though we likely disagree on what the cause is.

And yes – wealth is about having needs met (clothes, food, shelter, water, education, healthcare, etc) for most people in the world – not billionaires. They have transcended this and live with such excess that it’s near impossible to not find a moral issue here.

I am curious, however – what about a theoretical island scenario where there are 100 people living on the island. 1 person has everything he could possibly need, while everyone else toils and suffers from not having many of their needs met. While he has an endless supply of medicine, food, and clean water, 50 of these people live with little of these things.

We can express disgust at this scenario and find that the symptom (the existence of this 1 guy with everything) is unjustified. And this assessment should lead us back to the problem itself – and hopefully a solution.

seawulf575's avatar

If they made their money legally, yes. I cannot accuse someone of being morally defunct just because they made a bunch of money. What I don’t understand and cannot morally justify is the attitude that is prevalent these days that we should punish someone for the offense of making money.

thisismyusername's avatar

@seawulf575: “I cannot accuse someone of being morally defunct just because they made a bunch of money.”

Keep in mind that nobody is asking whether the billionaires are morally defunct. We’re asking about the existence of billionaires. There is a huge difference.

@seawulf575: “What I don’t understand and cannot morally justify is the attitude that is prevalent these days that we should punish someone for the offense of making money.”

I don’t even know what this means.

flutherother's avatar

Eight billionaires have the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population according to a recently released Oxfam report

This situation is immoral to the point of being grotesque and cannot be honestly defended.

flutherother's avatar

@seawulf575 I’m not saying everyone who is a billionaire is immoral but I think the system that permits such vast discrepancies in income is seriously flawed. OK, these billionaires work hard, well some of them do, but do they work hundreds of thousands of times harder than a guy on minimum wage?

What is required is a fairer system of taxation but with Trump having just passed a tax regime that favours the very rich things seem moving in the wrong direction.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
SQUEEKY2's avatar

That is just it, what is immoral is that these billionaires do not pay their percentage of tax, now some will huff and say they pay millions in tax, I am not talking about amounts but more what their percentage of taxation should be for their wealth and income.

Response moderated
Zaku's avatar

@thisismyusername

And yes – wealth is about having needs met (clothes, food, shelter, water, education, healthcare, etc) for most people in the world – not billionaires.
Yes, hopefully for everyone, and without shame or resentment.

They have transcended this and live with such excess that it’s near impossible to not find a moral issue here.
What specific moral issue is there with simply a very large net worth figure by itself? Why focus on that indicator as a problem itself? If I add $1 billion to my checking account but otherwise behave normally, it seems to me it would have no actual impact on anything other than wealth statistics. You might say I should do something to help the world with it. Ok, suppose I buy $900 million worth of land and make it all protected wildlife habitat with a $90 million trust and $10 million left over to keep me and my family secure in our savage economic environment. My net worth is still over $1 billion. What’s the moral issue then?

I am curious, however – what about a theoretical island scenario where there are 100 people living on the island. 1 person has everything he could possibly need, while everyone else toils and suffers from not having many of their needs met. While he has an endless supply of medicine, food, and clean water, 50 of these people live with little of these things.
Sure that’s gross inequality in actual real things people need, not just a balance sheet. I think I tried to make that distinction clear in my first answer. The lack of access to needs for everyone is of course a serious moral problem. But it’s not extra money itself that is the actual issue – it’s the access to needs. If everyone has what they need but one person has infinite ability to buy luxury goods but not to interfere with anyone’s happiness nor to buy power nor land that isn’t for the natural environment, that doesn’t really harm anyone. It’s what abusive things might be done with excessive wealth that is the issue (and the impact on others and the natural world), not that someone has an extreme balance.

We can express disgust at this scenario and find that the symptom (the existence of this 1 guy with everything) is unjustified. And this assessment should lead us back to the problem itself – and hopefully a solution.
Well sure. I think Bezos in particular is a nasty piece of work who creates a large powerful corporate environment that impacts hundreds of millions of people. Many people who work for him tend to suffer in nasty competitive bullshit environments. Amazon makes a lot of stuff available but also drives good bookstores out of business, and his business model (like Microsoft’s) is aggressively trying to take over as many other businesses as will grow its power as fast as possible. Amazon and Microsoft are allowed to play Monopoly with the world, which “leverages” more and more wealth and power, often at the expense of others. Remember circa 1998 when the government tried to break up Microsoft with an antitrust lawsuit, and Microsoft was able to out-spend the government on lawyers? I think it’s about the whole pattern of behavior of people and companies and banks going for infinite expansion of wealth and power, including corrupting and overpowering government and writing laws and being immune from prosecution. Earlier thinkers in US politics had some realization of the dangers of wealth and power concentration. That’s been eroded and lost and abused for a long time now, and needs to change. Perhaps if the elements that own most of the wealth developed an interest for having the world they own be a happy and healthy place…

Because back on that 100-person island, if the person with the immense wealth thinks he wants immense power, or if someone threatens or blackmails him to gain control of his resources, and wants immense power, and is allowed to control the government, and/or write laws, there will eventually be real problems. Not to mention ever-growing corporations with power & growth agendas written into their corporate charters.

thisismyusername's avatar

@Zaku: “What’s the moral issue then?”

Let’s be specific. There are people who die in the US because they lack healthcare. And the person standing right next to them earned $36,000 per minute last year. I’m not sure how else to describe this.

@Zaku: “The lack of access to needs for everyone is of course a serious moral problem. But it’s not extra money itself that is the actual issue – it’s the access to needs.”

The U.S. doesn’t lack the money to provide guaranteed healthcare to every single person. The fact that there are people who have so much while so many have so little needn’t require some fool like me to try to explain the obscenity. It’s self apparent. It does need justification.

You don’t see an issue with this, and maybe we should leave it at that.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

But then if you were given a billion dollars would anyone on Fluther give it back? Or to charity? I would start my own science foundation. I would have real meat every day, and pay my rent for 50 years. I would find a cure for my time travel.

Zaku's avatar

@thisismyusername
Let’s be specific. There are people who die in the US because they lack healthcare. And the person standing right next to them earned $36,000 per minute last year. I’m not sure how else to describe this.
Yes, but the issue is the lack of healthcare and death, right? And the system that leads to that outcome. The huge amount of money in someone’s account per se isn’t the cause of the problems in the system – and unless we’re talking about specific people, all we know is that the balance is probably an effect of it.

The U.S. doesn’t lack the money to provide guaranteed healthcare to every single person. The fact that there are people who have so much while so many have so little needn’t require some fool like me to try to explain the obscenity. It’s self apparent. It does need justification.

You don’t see an issue with this, and maybe we should leave it at that.
I see plenty of problems. I think everyone should have the right to affordable or even no-cost healthcare (or at least, medical expenses should not be at odds with other basic needs). I think there should be few or no for-profit hospitals. I think the medical insurance industry should largely be abolished. I think Citizens United should be abolished. I think money should be removed from politics. I think corporations should in no way write or drive legislation. I think representatives beholden to corporations should be removed from office. I think corporations who act against the public good should have their leadership removed and their culture and charters reinvented so that they focus on doing good, not growing infinite wealth and power. I think monopolies should be broken up. I think media corporations should also be required to do actual fair journalism, and not be all owned by a conglomerate that taints and dictates what’s said. I think billionaire powermonger types and tycoons should be reeducated so they can enjoy their lives and not focus on power/wealth accumulation to the detriment of everyone else. I think fracking and the tar sands and new oil exploitation should be abolished. I think health care and other needs should be provided, at the likely great reduction of the wealth of banks, corporations, and billionaires, and that no one should be taxed who can’t provide for their own needs.

Gates, Bezos and Buffett would not have anywhere near so much wealth if the changes I see are needed were done, but them having a particular net worth is not the cause.

I just think that the real problems are about our systems of thinking, laws, corruption, etc., and not specifically about an amount of money in an account.

However, if there were a short-term measure to tax the heck out of billionaires, I’d say sure, but it’s still not the core problem.

thisismyusername's avatar

@Zaku: “Yes, but the issue is the lack of healthcare and death, right? And the system that leads to that outcome. The huge amount of money in someone’s account per se isn’t the cause of the problems in the system – and unless we’re talking about specific people, all we know is that the balance is probably an effect of it.”

We’re talking past each other here. Of course, it’s the economic system. But I can look at the result of that system as a data point. The existence of Bezos – regardless of how or why he exists – is obscene. Period. We then need to look at why he exists. That’s a different but related question.

@Zaku: “I see plenty of problems. [...snip…]”

Damn straight! I agree.

@Zaku: “I just think that the real problems are about our systems of thinking, laws, corruption, etc., and not specifically about an amount of money in an account.”

Again, just talking past each other a little bit. Of course we have a problem (capitalism).

The fact is, however, that there is pushback about the concept that extreme wealth is even a symptom. My question was at least trying to clear this up.

Response moderated
ucme's avatar

This stinks of hypo & he can quote me on that :D

SergeantQueen's avatar

@Rarebear I know your question isn’t directed towards me, but it’s a good question and I’m going to answer it.
Having a billion dollars in and of itself is not morally unethical. I think the only time it gets to be morally unethical is if it was stolen or whatnot. But, having a billion dollars and having earned it properly is fine, even if you decide not to share/donate it. You earned that money and there is no single law or rule that requires you to share it. Even if that is morally unethical to you doesn’t mean it’s unethical to someone else. (and that goes with stealing money as well. I think it’s bad to steal money, but if these billionaires are stealing money they must not agree)
If I’m walking down the street, and I have $20 bucks in my pocket and I pass a homeless man, I don’t give him money. I don’t have a lot of money to begin with and what I do have I can’t afford to give to others. If I had more money that I could just give away, I would. But for right now, I don’t. I don’t think it’s morally unethical for me to not give them my money because I worked for it and it’s mine to spend. You guys might find it rude that I don’t give them money. But you can never be too careful and if it’s going to go towards drugs or alcohol, I won’t risk.
Same goes for billionaires. If they worked hard for the money they have, I don’t expect them to just donate it like crazy (especially with a lot of donation groups being shady).

Honestly, I think it’s kind of dumb to be arguing about whether or not having a billion dollars is unethical when there are so many homeless/poor people in this world when many of you guys probably aren’t doing anything to stop it or help those in need. Even if you guys were hella rich can you honestly say, with 100% sincerity that you would donate the majority of your money? I think your answer may be yes now, but if you actually had that money it would probably change.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

If you want to be a billionare then you agree to the terms of the game and the risk involved. Other people who don’t want to be rich should get a basic guarantied income. In an ideal world you should be able to choose between the two. There should be no collateral damage to those who pick the guarrantied basic income.

Rarebear's avatar

@sergeantqueen

Perfect answer and spot on. It’s not the amount that is important but the person. I feel that EVERYBODY has an ethical responsibility for charity to take care of people who are less fortunate than you. This is true whether or not you have a billion dollars or a thousand. In Judiasm we call it “tzedaka”.

—On a personal note we do not hand money to homeless people. However we do give significant amounts to our local food bank, and for low income education at the public library. We also volunteer at women’s crisis centers and meals on wheels.—

seawulf575's avatar

@thisismyusername Sorry, maybe it was my misunderstanding. You brought up morals as in “Can you morally justify the existence of billionaires”. So applying my morals, I see nothing morally wrong with billionaires, with the proviso that they got there legally. They aren’t morally defunct just for having money which is the implication of your question. I went on to state that I cannot morally justify those with the idea these days that being rich is somehow wrong…again, an implication of your question. Why even ask the question as you did, involving morals, if you didn’t feel there was something wrong with being a billionaire? And there is ALWAYS someone in the news these days stating that they (the rich) should have to pay “their share” which generally means a much, much, higher percentage of their earnings than anyone else. What I cannot morally justify is that expecting someone to pay a much higher percentage of their earnings is somehow right.

seawulf575's avatar

@flutherother Your statement about a system that allows a vast discrepancy of income is flawed is, in itself, flawed. EVERY system that humans have ever had has ended up with some people holding more than the others. The possible exceptions are small groups like a monastery where they have basically nothing and there really is no defined leader, other than to enforce the rules. But there have always been the haves and the have nots. Even in the precious socialistic or communistic systems, you have those at the top and those at the bottom. You think Josef Stalin or Mao Zedung only had as much as the lowest plebeian in their society? Not a chance. To feel that being wealthy is wrong and that they should somehow give it up to those that don’t have any is foolishness beyond belief. What you are saying is that those that create the wealth shouldn’t be entitled to it and those that aren’t competent or aggressive enough to actually create the wealth should, by the mere fact of their need, be entitled to more. I didn’t create a computer operating system and establish a billion dollar industry, so I don’t see why I should feel that Bill Gates should give me money I didn’t earn. And you assume that all jobs are the same. You equate the labors of someone that actually created the job/industry/whatever are equal across the board as someone flipping burgers at McDonalds. I will tell you that the jobs I worked the hardest at were those that paid the least. So I had incentive to claw my way out of those jobs. But here’s the kicker…those jobs had the least stress associated with them.
People make decisions about their lives all the time. Those decisions lead to where we are today. The best part is that if you take a wrong turn, you can often go back and course correct. But to say that because someone makes more than you do is just whining.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It is pointless arguing about the morality of individual billionaires, or for that matter the ethics of how their fortunes are acquired. You don’t prosecute sharks for gobbling up seals. The issue that matters is the question about what sort of society you wind up with when 5% of the population controls 90% of the nation’s assets? America in particular is a great model for answering that question. When you consider the problems confronting our country, every one of us here knows without a doubt that there is no reasonable excuse for a nation with the combined wealth of the United States to suffer these insults. So why can’t we fix the roads and bridges? What happens when 90% of school kids qualify for free lunches? Let’s answer the quetion that matters. WHERE’S THE MONEY????????

thisismyusername's avatar

@SergeantQueen: “Having a billion dollars in and of itself is not morally unethical. I think…”

Related to, but not the question I asked.

This is not a question about the ethics of the billionaire. I repeat, this is not a question about the ethics of the billionaire. I find it interesting that this is how many are interpreting it.

I never would have guessed that people would have gone there, but I now suspect it has to do with our different views on the economic system which creates both the billionaires and the poor. I don’t see it as a matter of choice or agency. So, when I talk about the results of capitalism (billionaires and the poor) in this context, I’m asking to evaluate the simple fact that these things exist.

Anyway, thanks for all of the input.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It isn’t fuckin rocket science. One class extracts ever more money from the overall society. More and more of that extracted money no longer circulates through the society. And worse, that money is hidden away and very effectvely shielded from taxation. Meanwhile, those left to carry the load, unable to hide their money offshore, have their money snatched from them BEFORE THEY ARE PAID. Worse, yet they are confronted with a puzzling decline in their standard of living as ever more of them are headed toward a life where they don’t earn enough to pay taxes. The deficit grows. The stock market booms, but wages are flat or stagnant. verdict— the economy’s booming!! What’s goin on? WHERE’S THE MONEY?

flutherother's avatar

@seawulf575 My point is that the discrepancy in income is too great and should be reduced. I don’t mean it should be abolished altogether. The very wealthy can pay more tax than they do and still enjoy a very pleasant lifestyle.

I don’t assume all jobs are the same but I assume all people are the same. Everyone doing a fair day’s work is entitled to a fair day’s pay. The US tax code wasn’t delivered by Moses on tablets of stone. It is an invention of man and when it is failing it can be improved.

SergeantQueen's avatar

@thisismyusername I wasn’t directly asking your question so of course it doesn’t answer it.

Morally justifying billionaires without getting into ethics of it is kind of hard. I feel multiple people have answered your question, but because it isn’t the answer you are looking for you are claiming it isn’t answering your question

Zaku's avatar

@thisismyusername

We’re talking past each other here.
Yes.

Of course, it’s the economic system. But I can look at the result of that system as a data point. The existence of Bezos – regardless of how or why he exists – is obscene. Period. We then need to look at why he exists. That’s a different but related question.
Yes… though I can imagine, in a parallel fantasy universe, some really wonderful humanitarian person, in a society which does take care of its people and which stops corporate abuses in their tracks, some billionaires who slowly gained crazy-high levels of wealth, but don’t do anything bad with it, and who don’t cause any problems for the rest of the world, which doesn’t need them to not be billionaires for any particular reason, because money is an invented game token, and the power dynamics have other mechanisms that prevent/stop/intervene if/when someone does starts to do something nasty with their wealth.

The fact is, however, that there is pushback about the concept that extreme wealth is even a symptom. My question was at least trying to clear this up.
Yeah, though I’m not one of those people, except to make the philosophical point that I think you’re logically off-target in trying to get people to concentrate on the symptom of excessive person wealth.

Aside from it being a symptom and not strictly a problem itself (though of course yes it is a problem in our actual case, too), I also think it’s important not to focus on personal wealth imbalance as a strictly moral problem, because I expect that the people you mention above, are liable to use that slip of logic not to learn and change their minds, but to confirm their notions that “the liberals and commies just want to take the money of the people who earned it fair and square” or simply that people who favor a right to health care also see wealth as an evil by itself.

I don’t think there’s much chance of convincing any of the various types of people who oppose the types of suggestions you and I might make, that extreme wealth is by itself a moral problem. I also don’t think it’s actually a valid logical or moral argument unless you also include whatever else it is about wealth that has wealth also translate into power and problems for everyone else. And I think it’s those other things where the actual causes of the actual problems are, and also where some minds might be changed.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

What about the government? The United states has a 3 trillion dollar yearly budget. Should the United Nations tax governments who have more than $1 trillion dollars per year? To look after third world countries?

Rarebear's avatar

Perhaps if you phrased your question with more clarity and with less judgement then people would have answered more to your liking.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. The biggest problem here, is that the OP inserted the word “morally,” into the question. Morality is a human constructed idea. It is extremely subjective, and to a degree, varies from each person. 7 billion people could give 7 billion descriptions of morality, if they had to be detailed. So there is a flaw in the premise of the question. I know it’s hard to phrase things just right in just one sentence, but I think I understand what the OP is asking. Is it “right,” or whatever word you choose? No…

@seawulf575 had an excellent point. It doesn’t seem to matter what type of government, currency, economic system, or political system a group has. Someone will end up holding most of the power/money.

That being said, I will say that billionaires don’t make their money. The poor do. Without the poor, they would never have made their money, and the money would be worthless without the poor. The poor do all the work. They build the roads. They sustain the agriculture. They fight the wars. They literally do it ALL. For this reason, I believe that the wealthy should have to pay higher taxes. They need to support the people who support them. Or they can’t exist. The wealthiest people would have nothing without the poor. The poor don’t need the wealthy. So they shouldn’t cry about paying bigger chunks, to sustain their lifestyle. If that 90% of people just vanished, they’d (the wealthy) be fucked… Money only has value, if it can be traded for goods and services. If there’s nobody to provide the goods or services, then what?

So. History has taught us, that people will inevitably become disproportionately economically uneven. Eventually…

It’s also taught us, that this is unsustainable. As wealth gaps have grown to this point, the civilization eventually crumbles. Usually through revolt of fed up populations, or economic failure. Think of the Mayans, Romans etc. When the people in power use it to oppress the common man, it burns itself out.

Let’s say that the gap gers bigger in America. It clearly will now. Eventually, the wealthy will have to pay to help the poor, or the poor will starve, or die of other health reasons. Then the wealthy have lost everything. They cannot have their cake, and eat it too. One way or the other, they will pay the poor. They could do it, by giving people reasonable wages, and being satisfied with less profit. That’s a everyone wins situation.
Or… They can have to pay higher taxes to support a poorly educated, unhealthy, unhappy population. That was the current model. Now the wealthy are simply taking everything they can.

How long will the poor watch each other suffer, and die, while people like Trump live in golden towers and eat steak every day?

The “morality,” of such people being “allowed” to exist, is irrelevant. We may as well discuss the morality of mortality. How can we stop it? That’s a better question. The answer is that it will stop. It grows like a bubble, then pops. Yes. I’m saying that I believe that the US will eventually fail, as a government. I don’t know the time frame, but the new tax bill just accelerated the US’s collapse. I hope there is an afterlife, with a view of this planet, so the people who did this can watch their grandchildren suffer/endure the world they created…

Getting rich, or trying, is animal behavior. It’s natural. It’s competition, and survival of the fittest. Muscle, camouflage, hunting skills, genetics etc have been replaced with economic ability. As far as traits determining survival…

The wolves of nature, have been replaced by the wolves of Wallstreet. The sheep seem OK with it. So, it won’t change.

Arguing over the dollar amount that determines whether someone has “too much,” isn’t the point. The possibility that such a gap can happen is…

The system is rigged. As time passes, the wealthy have manipulated the government to funnel all the money to them. Eventually, they’ll have all the money. Then nobody will be able to contribute to their fortunes.

The obligation to not take all the money is self serving to the wealthy. Greed is apparently more powerful than sensibility…

thisismyusername's avatar

@Zaku – I agree with much of what you have said, again.

Anyway, complete failure. I’ll own up to it. I misread the audience. This was meant to be a softball before proceeding to other questions about inequality. In other words, I thought the overwhelming majority would likely either have some moral justification or would claim that there is none.

If the next question had been, “Can you morally justify the existence of millionaires”, it would have been interesting to see if we had the same response or if some split off. That split would have been the interesting point.

I’ll try to be more clear with my questions and not assume “the existence of billionaires” means the same thing everywhere.

janbb's avatar

I think one of the problems with many of your questions is when you say “you” instead of “we.” It sounds to me then that you are looking for an argument rather than a discussion, that you have pre-judged what the response will be and plan to correct our answers. If that is not the case, maybe think about rephrasing your questions.

I don’t know if you misread the audience so much as misworded the question. We’re grown-ups who could talk about socialism versus capitalism if that’s what you really want to discuss.

thisismyusername's avatar

@janbb: “We’re grown-ups who could talk about socialism versus capitalism if that’s what you really want to discuss.”

That’s boring. I’m more interested in finding those areas where we go from agreement to disagreement. These areas have possibility.

Zaku's avatar

As for millionaires, it reminds me that when my dad bought his first house, for $30,000, he and I expect most not-rich people thought of one million dollars as a huge amount of money that it would be difficult to spend. Now that same house is valued at well over a million dollars. Whoever ended up still having a middle-class home in that city is now a millionaire on paper. Quite possibly a struggling millionaire… unless they sell their house and move somewhere else.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I assumed that the question meant people with inordinate amounts of wealth. I wasn’t focused on the number, but the value. And the gap.

@thisismyusername . This thread has gone on long enough, I think, that you can reveal your opinions on the matter. I think you have clarified your intentions.

canidmajor's avatar

@thisismyusername: in reference to your snide response to me earlier, I was unable to either copy/paste your quote, or to take the time to type it all out. I had thought you would remember what you had said
Different device, now.

“Anyway, complete failure. I’ll own up to it. I misread the audience. This was meant to be a softball before proceeding to other questions about inequality. In other words, I thought the overwhelming majority would likely either have some moral justification or would claim that there is none.”

We are obviously unworthy to address your questions, but I’m sure there are other fora on the Internet where the users are able to discern your motives and discuss these things adequately. You would undoubtedly have a more satisfactory time on those sites.

Response moderated
MrGrimm888's avatar

I like that @thisismyusername uses the quotes. It makes it much easier to follow, and you know you aren’t being misrepresented. Just saying….

seawulf575's avatar

@flutherother your proposal of the rich paying more taxes is still a scam. Why should they be punished for making money? And if you are going to play that game, then anyone working will eventually get punished and only those not working will benefit. That is the end game of your proposal. The rich take less from the public coffers than the poor. Their percentage of taxes is a much larger actual dollar value than the poor. You are setting yourself up as the person to decide how people should live. If you make X amount of money, we should be able to take Y amount away from you and you could still live a very nice life style…by my reckoning. So let’s play a little game of “what’s next”. So today, it is billionaires that should have to pay more because they make more than you feel they should. Let’s say they suddenly have to give 50% of their earnings to support those less well off. We won’t go into the idea that you are actually giving the money to the government and not to the needy. So then, the poor are still poor. What do you do then? Take 75% of their money? Or change it down to taking 50% of those only making $1M per year? And when the poor are still poor, what then…move it down to those making $100k per year? Where do you stop before you realize what you are doing is punishing success and rewarding failure?
As for everyone making a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work…you are right. So why do you think that the burger flipper should be making what the CEO is making? Many of these low level jobs are those jobs that require no real education, no real skill, and really don’t ask for even loyalty to the company. Why SHOULD we make those sort of jobs high paying jobs? And why should someone that creates a business suddenly have to give up his rewards because one of the guys working for him, that couldn’t even conceive of how to start the business, doesn’t feel he is making enough?

thisismyusername's avatar

@canidmajor: “We are obviously unworthy to address your questions, but I’m sure there are other fora on the Internet where the users are able to discern your motives and discuss these things adequately. You would undoubtedly have a more satisfactory time on those sites.”

Fair enough. We should all keep to our safe ideological bubbles.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@seawulf575 .The rich cannot get rich, without the poor. It may not seem fair, but yes they should pay more. It’s because of the country they live in, and it’s laws that they are rich. If I were wealthy, I’d gladly pay much higher taxes. It isn’t set up fair now. I honestly can’t think of a system that wouldn’t leave someone feeling screwed. No. Flat tax isn’t fair either. Maybe if you remove all the deductions, and other advantages of being wealthy. If you want to be wealthy, you should pay more for the privilege.

I see some of your points about training people not to work. I don’t consider those types of people as a large representative of the impoverished. The wealthy game the system. They aren’t punished.

I’m a big guy. Very strong. If me and nine other people carry a big log, I will probably be contributing more to moving it, because the others are not as strong. Does that mean that I should only give the effort I think the others are putting in? The country is a team. It should be ran as such.

seawulf575's avatar

@MrGrimm888 the idea that the rich don’t make their money, the poor do is laughable. It is right out of Obama’s “You didn’t create that, we did”. Let’s take a classic case….Microsoft. Bill Gates made that company. It was his creativity and drive that made Windows and created the Microsoft company. He took all the financial risks along the way. He did hire people to do some of the work and paid them for it. That is part of the way jobs work. But you go on and on and miss the real issues. The poor pave the highways. But did they design the equipment they are using? No, some other now wealthy guy or gal did that. The sustain the agriculture (which isn’t really true any longer since many agriculture concerns are now incorporated), but did they create the harvesters or the tractors or the combines they use? The milking machines? No…some other wealthy guy/gal created those things. And in every case, they used their brains and their initiative and drive to make them happen.
The not-rich do make up a large bloc of the world. But in many cases, those people aren’t buying the products that are making the rich, rich.
In our modern world, we have set up all sorts of entitlements…food stamps, welfare, Obama phones, Medicare, Medicaid, etc, etc, etc. The wealthy do not take part in those entitlements. And most of those that do, aren’t paying a ton of taxes. So the wealthy are already paying for the poor. To say they need to pay more is to punish them for being successful while rewarding those that don’t put forth the effort or risk to become successful. If you were truly looking at being fair to society, we would adopt a flat tax that charged 10% on gross income for all levels with no deductions and no loopholes. The wealthy would pay their fair share without any great way to avoid it. The less fortunate would also pay their fair share, especially since many of them are taking more out of the public coffers.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@seawulf575 .The idea that the rich all came upon their fortunes through intelligence, hard work, and legal means is laughable, to me…

You are painting with too broad a brush. You depict the poor in a very negative light. I disagree with the indication of laziness. It’s frankly insulting. It speaks volumes of your ignorance of who poor people really are.

The rich go to great lengths to dodge their financial accountability. There is zero chance that they wouldn’t find ways to pay less than they should in any system. The poor don’t have anyone working to help them.

The wealthy could avoid all of this, by not being so greedy. Paying realistic wages would be a great way to decrease the need for government aide, and drive down the cost of doing so. Simultaneously, it would reduce the need for them to shoulder higher tax burdens. Either way, they wouldn’t get to keep every penny.

Who cares who designed farm equipment. The reason is important here. The equipment was designed, so that the farm can employ less people. People run, and maintain the equipment. Again. Without the poor, there are no wealthy. It’s not an argument, or opinion, but fact.

AshlynM's avatar

Sure, if they use their fortune to help others in some way.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@seawulf575 It only appears that the rich are carrying the poor. All of those entitlements and government handouts are required. Ask yourself, “how else can the rich fatten up?” Are the poor getting ahead on their government. handouts? If the rich are overburdened with taxes, how is it that they are the only ones pulling ahead? What those handouts amount to is an ever growing debt. Ignore the fact that the poor APPEAR to receive something for nothing and pay attention to WHERE ALL MONEY WINDS UP. It isn’t in the bank accounts or stock portfolios of the poor. And as ever more money is siphoned from the economy into the vaults of those who can’t possibly spend it, everyone else scratches their head wondering why things are so tough.

stanleybmanly's avatar

What’s the problem with a billionaire class? The first and primary evil is in its ability to corrupt the governmental process. For example, the rich have by now arranged through the tax codes that it is more profitable to invest in paper shuffling scams than sink money in productive enterprises requiring long term investment.

MrGrimm888's avatar

And by the way. Gates, is NOT a “classic case”...

He doesn’t act like most wealthy people either.

He’s the best of the worst of humanity… I applaud him. And his wife…

seawulf575's avatar

@MrGrimm888 I’m not putting anyone in any light. I came from poor. I know poor. I pulled myself out of poor. But there are many, many more that don’t. And our entitlement system is designed to keep them poor which is exactly how both sides like it.
As for broad brush painting…take a look at your own version of rich people. They didn’t work to get what they have. They go to any lengths to keep it and to get more. You show your ignorance of rich people.
But I think the issue is how we see things. You make a statement that the rich should pay a “realistic” wage. That is a very subjective statement. What is realistic? And for what job? For someone flippin’ burgers? They are probably paid what they should be now. Why should we pay someone what their supervisor is making to be a mindless drone? What is realistic about that? I don’t see anything realistic in the idea that we should consider all jobs, no matter how menial an mindless, a job that is worthy of being able to support a family of 4 by itself. Want proof of how that fails? Look at the US Auto industry. The unions demanded high wages for the jobs they were doing…even for floor sweepers. That drove the cost of producing a car through the roof. When a little competition hit the industry, our side failed miserably. Automation replaced workers, companies outsourced work and the US auto industry became a bunch of corporate yahoos. All those workers out. Meanwhile, Honda and Toyota opened plants in the US but didn’t hire union. They paid their folks a good wage, but not what the union demanded, and they treated their workers right. The unions couldn’t get a foothold because the workers didn’t want them screwing things up. When a person is doing a job, it really depends on what that job is and how much the company can handle to determine what is a realistic wage. I will also say that I entirely disagree with giving CEOs multimillion dollar bonuses. But that is something that will eventually work its way out or not. If the company does that enough and screws over the workers to help make it possible, that company goes out of business. I have seen that happen too.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They started tearing down and replacing one of our bridges here in town, yesterday.

I think roads and bridges are funded at the state level. Oklahoma does not charge property taxes and their roads are crap.

Rarebear's avatar

@Dutchess_III In California we get taxed up the ass and our roads are crap too.

stanleybmanly's avatar

wanna move to Oklahoma?

Rarebear's avatar

Pfft no. And Kansas is worse.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@seawulf575 . You said my “realistic” wage was too subjective. That’s true. I was trying not to write a book. I would add, that in your same response though, you said that Honda, and Toyota employees were paid a “good” wage. That doesn’t seem too subjective?..

I know a few dozen multimillionaires. Some are really great people. The ones that have discussed financial issues around me, or with me, are gaming the system. They are pulling WAY more from the government, than the microscopic amount of people gaming welfare, or other financial aid services. Do you really think someone abusing $200/month in food stamps, is affecting the system like a wealthy person hiding millions in offshore accounts? One type of person is far worse than the other. The worst part of the system is that the money most of the wealthy get from the new tax bill will not help the economy in any way. You must know this, but are again being deliberately obtuse. The poor spend money. Give it to them, and it will still end up in the wealthy people’s pockets, but the economy will improve. Not just stock markets, that really only benefit those with plenty of disposable income.

The wealthy are the ones who put the US in the financial crisis. They were given a insane amount of money to bailout the banking industry. It was their greed that led them to ruin. If that money went into the hands of the poor, they would have spent it, and the economy would have recovered that way. In the long run, the money was paid back. But those who cry about handouts didn’t say a word when it was their hand. When a poor person makes such mistakes, there is no bailout.

Trickle down economics is a fictitious idea. Put the money in the hands of those who will spend it, and deserve it just as much as Wallstreet deserved the bailout.

You keep bringing up burger flipping, as if it’s the only minimum wage job out there. You obviously aren’t smart enough to care who is making the food you put in your mouth. Just because a job doesn’t require a PHD, doesn’t make it unimportant. Question. Who is more likely to not care if they drop it on the ground, or put boogers in your burger; a flipper making minimum wage, or one making $15/hr? Who’s more likely to do a good job? Who would produce a higher quality product? It seems obvious, to me, that higher wages would improve almost every aspect of America.

Being greedy, and apathetic to the poor is a road to ruin. It has not helped this country. You’re free to think otherwise.

I’m not even going to delve into the role race plays in wealth accumulation, and in conservatives views on the impoverished…

You’re a vet right? Last time I was in the unemployment office (about 5 years ago) there was a over represented group there. About 40% of them were military. Are they lazy losers too? For someone claiming to be a morally superior Christian, you don’t seem to practice what you preech sir…

SergeantQueen's avatar

@MrGrimm888 I do agree with your point on ”Do you really think someone abusing $200/month in food stamps, is affecting the system like a wealthy person hiding millions in offshore accounts? but I think that honestly, if you are going to target a specific group of people (billionaires) as being the greedy ones, who get all their money by stealing and gaming, you should at least mention the other people.
The people who have no jobs, possibly no homes, but are completely and 100% able to get a job, to make a living. But, because they are too lazy and enjoy things being handed to them, they take advantage of the welfare system or other groups that help those in need. I saw this one video of a man who was standing literally right in front of a job center who said he was able to work, but said he didn’t want to. (why should I when I have the ability to just get free stuff). Another video was of a woman who had 8 kids. She straight up said, “Who’s going to take care of my kids? I have 8 kids whose gonna take care of them?” She had the 100% capability to go out and find a job but didn’t want to. They all have the mentality of “as long as someone is going to give me this stuff for free, why earn it?”
There even was someone who won the lottery for a few 100 thousand, and still was living off welfare.

I’m not trying to strawman you or change the subject, I’m just trying to point out that it isn’t just billionaires that cheat, lie, and steal. There are multiple groups of people from all different financial backgrounds that do it. And I see a lot of attention focusing only on the richer people that do it. If we are going to discuss it with billionaires, we should discuss it with the less fortunate as well. Because it’s unfair either way, and relevant. And even though they may not be as bad as the billionaires, it’s still an issue.

As for minimum wage, I do agree with your point, but I don’t think $15 is the good price. If every company has to pay all employees $15, they might find it hard to balance and pay for other expenses. Bigger companies might not, but smaller ones will and you can’t just only make it a rule for larger companies. Also, certain job are meant to be starter jobs and shouldn’t pay that amount in general.
Obviously, burger flipping isn’t the only job. There are people who are janitors, who have to clean toilets and other gross areas. Minimum wage jobs, in my opinion, are starter jobs not meant as a career or even really meant to be all that great. My state, minimum wage is $7.25. I think it should be higher. But $15 is wayy to high.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

So $15 would be to much hardship on these companies, BUT maybe if these people had that they would buy more products or services from these same companies that are crying it will ruin us.
For people that think people enjoy being on welfare, you should see exactly how much these people get per month.
And if it is close to what these people would make on a minimum wage job, THAT alone should tell you how bad minimum wage is in that area.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Exactly. Poor people spend. It’s a fact. Go to any poor neighborhood, around tax return time. You’ll see boxes in the garbage from new TVs, and electronics.

They don’t have disposable income. Give them more, and they’ll spend it.

@SergeantQueen .
Mom and Pop stores aren’t the issue. They generally take far better care of their employees. I understand your point about them struggling to pay such wages, but it would balance out if it were universally applied.

I never once said people like you mentioned don’t game financial aid. My position, is that those types are vastly over/miss- represented by conservative media, and that this small minority of aid recipients does far less damage to the economy than the wealthy. And the money you get from these services is very small.

There are really only two choices, to me. The government can provide financial aid services, and subsidized housing, at the cost of the tax payers. The poor will face an uphill battle of getting out of poverty. They will likely be less educated, and less healthy. Their contributions to the country will be less. Their offspring will have the disadvantages of being born into poverty. They will have higher incarceration rates etc…

Or…

Pay these people enough to live on. They won’t be on financial aid. They will be paying income tax (where applicable.) They will be buying cars, gas, and contributing to the economy. They will understand how to build wealth. The country will be greatly improved. Poverty isn’t a benefit to any economy.

$7.25 an hour. A common misconception about minimum wage, is that these people are full time. Incorrect. It’s harder to fire full-time employees in large corporations, so they are reluctant to hire full-time employees. Most people at McDonald’s or KFC, or wherever are part-time. So. That’s $7.25/hr but at 18 hrs/week. “Just get two jobs”, is what the ignorant say. There’s a catch there too though. These corporations won’t hire you unless your schedule is open. So that isn’t a realistic strategy either… I can personally attest to this. At the big box sporting goods store I used to work at, there were zero full-time associates. Only leads, and management got 40 hours/week.

Think about living on $7.25/hour, with 15–20 random hours a week. Just how exactly are these people supposed to get ahead?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

“They don’t have disposable income. Give them more, and they’ll spend it.”

Of course they will, many will spend every penny they have. I’m in no way saying that all poor people are like this but a good percentage are poor because of their behavior and not because of any misfortune or lack of privilege.

Rarebear's avatar

Well, as reprehensible as I found the OP, I am going to give it a GQ for breaking 100 responses

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Why is it SO reprehensible? The OP is a cage rattler. It got the jellies riled up enough to make for a good thread. Sometimes, insulting someone can bring out their passion for a subject. I do it all the time. For me, I’m not trying to hurt their feelings, but get them engaged. Here we are 100 responses later…

I didn’t agree with HC much, but I loved going a few rounds with him. I think he eventually understood that I wasn’t just malicious…

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@all Thanks for not attacking me. Thanks for the Lurve. I would like to play too in the future .

SergeantQueen's avatar

Yeah, I understand. I’m a part time worker who gets paid a dollar more than minimum wage, but I sometimes work 1 day a week, for 3 hours a day. I get paid every two weeks so if I work 2 days, that’s hardly anything. No one can live off that. Now, me being a high schooler I can do that it’s fine. Obviously, if I was a mother of 3 kids that would be hell and I would end up working 2 or 3 jobs to make up for that.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I’ve worked 3 jobs before. It sucks.

Rarebear's avatar

@MrGrimm888 I said I (underlined) found it reprehensible. It offended me. It may not have offended you and that’s totally fine.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^May I ask what was so bad?

I’m not trying to be a jerk. Just understand.

Rarebear's avatar

No problem. I just wanted to make sure that the thread understand that I wasn’t saying the question was offensive. It’s just that I, personally, found it offensive. I can’t speak for anybody else.

What I found offensive was the implication in the question that a certain group of people (billionaires) just because they have money, are automatically unethical or immoral.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Thanks for the clarification.

Rarebear's avatar

No problem!

Blackberry's avatar

People don’t become billionaires in a vacuum…..

stanleybmanly's avatar

Once again, I think it’s a distraction to worry over the morality of the billionaire. Better to focus on the game itself in which we are ALL trapped. Billionaires are merely one of the outcomes in the game, and that outcome (billionaires) would be fine, and in fact desirable (as most billionaires are quick to remind us) were it not for the fact that elevation to billionaire status of a single individual invariably is accompanied by a corresponding group of untold thousands headed in the opposite direction. I heard a description in a Ted Talk the other day that I think pretty much describes the way it works. Suppose you were in a monopoly game where the dice are for sale and you were allowed to roll as many as you could afford, only the game has been going on for ages, with players coming and going. Then let us suppose that the amount of money you bring to the table hangs on where you come into the game. Are you born on Boardwalk or Baltic ave? Let’s stipulate that our board is very big

stanleybmanly's avatar

Sorry. the rest of my answer vanished somewhere, which may be just as well. This thread is plenty long enough already.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Gotta love it, when a carefully crafted response vanishes. Usually due to computer error…

Rarebear's avatar

Anyway I understand the point. I’m just telling how I reacted to it and then it compounded by the OP attitude towards me and others.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Understood…

Dutchess_III's avatar

For those who think being a billionaire is unethical or immoral, then you are being a hypocrite because you know you’d jump at it if someone offered you a billion dollars.

thisismyusername's avatar

@Dutchess_III: “For those who think being a billionaire is unethical or immoral, then you are being a hypocrite because you know you’d jump at it if someone offered you a billion dollars.”

I’ve been here the entire thread, and nobody has yet to argue that being a billionaire is unethical or immoral, so I think we’re safe.

But note: It’s possible to argue that being a billionaire is immoral while being a billionaire or being willing to be a billionaire. Hypocrisy doesn’t really factor into the discussion. The morality of something doesn’t hang on whether people would do it or not.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

What’s immoral is being a billionaire,is paying your low end workers below a living wage, not providing safe working conditions,and funnelling huge amounts of capital to off shore accounts to get out of paying tax.
But if ya don’t do any of that and is a billionaire then good for you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am disturbed how the balance of power has shifted since the 60’s and 70’s. Back then CEOs made reasonable salaries, and so did the workers. Since then the CEO’s income has gone WAY up and the worker’s incomes haven’t.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I know and the wealthy cry they are so hard done by.
Like pay my workers a wage they could actually live off, do I look like I am made of money?
With ideas like that I won’t be able to buy that third house in the virgin islands.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

CEO pay is absurd, we all know it and there is no justifying it. It’s past time to do something there. I don’t see how it is not something that they have colluded but that is a different scenario than just being rich though. There is nothing morally wrong with simpy being rich

Petrovisk's avatar

There will always be inequality of some sort. It’s how you behave that matters, and that applies to anyone regardless of personal wealth. You also have to remember that most of people who are rich on paper, don’t have that amount as monetary savings. They may have it as property, or it may be tied up in the company, which is the thing that pays their employees’ wages. It may be the potential value of the company, rather than the actual value. If they’re an early-stage startup, most of their wealth will be owned by investors, and they’ll probably be working for peanuts. Say you win the lottery: Are you automatically suddenly a bad person?

Jaxk's avatar

@Petrovisk – “Say you win the lottery”. That is actually the one way of getting rich that fits the Liberal mantra of evil. Lottery winners did nothing special, worked no harder, and took all their wealth directly from the poor or working class. Everyone else that got rich did so by creating some product or service that people were willing to buy in massive quantities. So while Bill Gates didn’t work much harder than the guy with no job, he did provide a service that the world rushed to buy. Well actually he worked infinitely harder than the guy with no job but let’s not nit pick. The point is that we were obviously better off before gates made those billions by giving us the digital revolution. Take away his money and go back to using an abacus.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Everyone else that got got rich did so creating some product or service that people were willing to buy in massive quantities.”

Would you care to rephrase that? Or are you seriously suggesting that? Trump started with $1million , and his father’s connections. That’s one who earned nothing…

Lottery winners. I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but are they a large percentage of billionaires? I’m guessing no….

Jaxk's avatar

It’s impossible to argue with someone that is willing to leave all rationality home but no I would not rephrase that. Trump created resorts, office buildings, golf courses and TV shows that people wanted. He didn’t inherit those he built them. Try to look at reality and let go of your hatred.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Incorrect. His inherited wealth built ALL of that… Rationale? Try common sense….

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@MrGrimm888 As much as I dislike Trump I disagree with you. Far too many people who inherit wealth or win the lottery squander it away. That’s actually what is expected when people come into money they did not earn themselves. A good number who are conservative with it simply spread it out and invest it in a way that allows them to live comfortably for a long time but only a very few go on to build empires with it. It can be argued that many would have done so even without the initial help. A good component of being poor, middle class or wealthy is in fact behavior.

seawulf575's avatar

Trump’s inherited wealth did not build his empire. Yes, it was a way to start and afforded him opportunities that maybe I didn’t have. But he worked and invested and negotiated and gamed the system (legally for the most part), to build his inheritance significantly. The amount he inherited is unknown, but it was certainly nowhere near what he spent on office buildings and resorts and golf courses and TV shows. Or on a presidential campaign. He made a lot of his money. If he was just the idiot and philanderer that most liberals would portray him, he would have run his inheritance into the ground long, long ago.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Gamed the system and any fool who trusted him, including desperate municipalities, greedy banks and unpaid construction workers. Wait for the Mueller revelations.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

^^ like I said, behavior. It’s not necessarily good or bad behavior that makes you rich or poor.

Mariah's avatar

Trump would have more money if he had just invested his initial inheritance into an index fund. His business work is not what made him rich – it actually made him poorer than he could have been.

seawulf575's avatar

^^I would say behavior and drive. And a good starting point, as I mentioned.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Mariah While that’s probably true he did not squander what we was gifted like many would. It’s one thing to invest and let the momentum of the economy bring wealth and it is altogether another thing to grow wealth yourself, even if just a small amount. The fact that he could have done better in an index fund is irrelevant. While he is a deplorable person we need to give credit where credit is due.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^I’m not giving him credit. Sorry. Just because he didn’t blow all his inheritance, doesn’t mean that it isn’t THE reason he was successful. Without his head start with money, and connections, I find it hard to believe that he would have been more than a used car salesman.

That being said, I could be wrong. We’ll obviously never know what he would be capable of without the advantageous life he was born into.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

His head start was not the money, it was that he had a parent that showed him how to build wealth I do think that alone would have been enough. His older brother was born into the same situation yet died young, unsuccessful and an alcoholic. This “privilege” bullshit is nothing more than a projection of personal insecurity. The simple fact of the matter is that people become as successful as they want and this is a direct result of the amount of work they are willing to put into doing so. Most of the friends I know who were born into wealth are not successful. Many are not dumb either, one has an IQ of over 140 yet he works in a sandwich shop. The few I know that really were come from an average, typical family. They’re not necessarily smarter, they just worked very hard. The day people can’t own their success is when political correctness has gone off the chart into wacko-fruitcake bizzaro land. Give me a fucking break. Success is there for anyone who wants it bad enough.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I disagree.

Mariah's avatar

The concept of privilege doesn’t state that people who have privilege and went on to do well didn’t work hard or have talented. It just means it was easier for them than it would be for someone who didn’t have that privilege. And that others who haven’t done as well, might have done better if they did have a more privileged background. Hardly an absurd or radical concept.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Mariah Yes I know that, don’t need it continually preached. It’s also fundamentally flawed. Who can say what push someone needs to be successful. Having a good draw of cards helps but having a bad draw can help in unexpected ways as well. Based on just anecdotal evidence it would seem that the best hand is an average one and an amazing one often has an opposite effect as does a bad one at times. Simply observing that someone has a better hand isn’t really the best indicator of how they will play that hand.

Where I draw ire is when people attribute everything a person achieves to said privilege. This is seldom the case and pointing out that privilege is basically a childish and back handed way of saying “no fair!” Using this concept as a weapon to undermine someones achievements, classifying social stratification based on hierarchies of privilege is in fact a radical concept that the left should be ashamed they are allowing their more extreme elements to get away with. I cringe every time I hear it.

SergeantQueen's avatar

^^like White Privilege?

stanleybmanly's avatar

So you believe we exist on a level playing field? All of us have an equal shot?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

All rightwingers think we have an equal playing field,just work hard don’t eat or sleep and screw anyone that gets in your way, and you too can be as successful as they are.

Mariah's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Unfortunately it becomes necessary to continuously remind the right of privilege given that they’re constantly trying to remove government benefits for people who are disadvantaged (e.g. Medicaid) under the pretense that folks who are poor deserve to be because they didn’t work hard.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^That’s what I’m hearing. Unless I missed something.
That’s what I hear from conservatives, too. “The poor should just work harder, or find a great paying job.” There’s just a huge disconnect from reality, in that mindframe.And I REALLY despise the rich, that think they have a clue what hard work is…

Yes SQ. Like white privilege. Studies have shown that people with a “black” sounding name, are less likely to get interviews if their names are on an application. Laquan Washington, is less likely to get a call back, than Larry Washington. That’s just one variable. Since blacks are more likely to a more humble beginning, this stacks the odds further against them. For instance….

If you don’t believe in privilege, you may not be being honest with yourself…

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@stanleybmanly No of course not. I know if someone is just born here in the US to a stable, middle class family it is an immense advantage but it’s no guarantee. People throw privilege around as if it is the sole reason that people are successful and others are not. This is simply wrong.

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