The rich suck. They take their money from the poor and hoard it. They are greedy, selfish megalomaniacs who prey on the weak.
How we’ve come to believe the above statements is a sad tale of ignorance combined with the ill-conceived efforts of those who amass power to themselves as they feel they are better arbiters of equity than the market system. It’s natural to hate the rich, just as it’s natural to hate the smart kid in class, or the pretty girl in school. We know, and commonly preach, that jealousy is a character flaw stemming from the desire to be in someone else’s shoes. “Thou shalt not covet”. Yet somehow our jealousy toward the rich has become condoned, accepted, and even encouraged in our culture. The very leaders of the nation now preach the doctrine of soaking the rich. “Unfair!” they all cry. “Give it back!” they plead. Thus the rich are condemned, and the champions of the poor are held up as heroes.
“Give it back”? The very concept of “giving back to the community” is a mess of economic and philosophic misunderstanding. It implies that it was the community which gave to you what you have, thus you are obliged to return to it a portion of what you have taken. Permit me to destroy this dangerous and destructive falsehood.
A transaction in trade consists of 2 willing parties. Each party has something that the other party wants. They are each willing to part with their item of value in exchange for the item which the other person possesses. Why? Because the thing that the other person offers is of greater value to you than the thing which you now possess. In the case of a purchase, money represents a value, and the same principle applies. If you buy a car, the car is worth more to you than the $15K that it cost you. Thus you were willing to part with the money in exchange for the car. The person who sold it to you valued the money more than the car. If both parties did not benefit, no transaction would be made.
Every trade we make makes us richer. Our wealth grows and our lives are enriched. But the amazing thing is that every trade we make makes our trading partner richer too. The value he received in the trade was greater than what he gave up. Each trade makes both parties richer. The community hasn’t given you anything, except that you gave it something of greater value to it in return. “Give back to the community“? You owe the community nothing.
With the exception of fraud, the richest among us are the ones who have successfully made the most and greatest trades, each trade of something of value that they created. Translating this to the trading partner’s viewpoint, the richest among us are those who have made the most people more wealthy. In fair trade, you don’t become rich unless you make your customers equally rich (or close to it). Thus the contribution of the rich to society approximates their entire net worth. Utlimately, the rich do far more for our communities than all the sweet spoken politicians, vocal champions of the poor, and even charities, combined.
We’ve been hating our heroes. Perhaps it’s time we learned to honored them instead.