1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Featured ‘It Is Utterly Impossible to Be Rich without Committing Injustice'

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Vouthon, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,678
    Ratings:
    +2,510
    Religion:
    Catholic Christianity
    In his Homily on 1 Timothy 12:3–4,71 the early church father St. John Chrysostom (died 407 CE) made the bold statement that "it is utterly impossible to be rich without committing injustice" (οὐκ ἔστιν οὐκ ἔστι μὴ ἀδικοῦντα πλουτεῖν) and moreover said that wealth is tantamount to theft, for ‘its origin must have come from an injustice against someone’, an ἀδικία (Timothy 1, 3, v.3, v. 8; 6, v.10; John Chrysostom in Schaff, 1886, Vol. 13, p.447). He then posed a rhetorical question: ‘Is this not an evil, that you alone should have the Lord’s property, that you alone should enjoy what is common?’, finally concluding: "Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs" (Hom. in Lazaro 2,5).

    Arguably, if you earned $5,000 a day every day, beginning in 1492 when Columbus discovered America, you would probably still have less money than Jeff Bezos. The richest 26 people in the world have as much wealth as the 50% most economically disadvantaged of the global population - all 3.5 billion of the planet's poorest. Jeff Bezos has personal income equivalent to the GDP of a number of sovereign countries, such as New Zealand.

    Surely an economic system that enables such gross income disparities to not only exist but widen with every passing year, often to the detriment of the environment to boot, is an inherently 'unjust' one?

    The counter-argument, from libertarian free-marketeers, is that the financially well-endowed are specially-talented wealth creators. Jeff Bezos created a service that billions of human beings wanted and so he reaps the dividends.

    But the question of acquiring wealth and the question of keeping it are distinct. 'To be rich' is not just about acquisition but retention. Whereas Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $130 billion, George Soros has "only" $8 billion because he has donated more than $32 billion to philanthropic causes.

    It’s one thing to claim you ascended the ranks of the 0.01% through talent, thrift and graft. It’s quite another to justify using that wealth for one's own private luxury, with plush houses and greco-roman sculptures of oneself rather than giving aid to people living hand-to-mouth in an effort to pay their exorbitant rents or dying without medical coverage from untreated malaria.

    Is there a “maximum moral income” beyond which it’s inexcusable not to give away your superfluous money?
     
    #1 Vouthon, Feb 21, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
    • Like Like x 9
    • Winner Winner x 4
    • Useful Useful x 1
  2. Landon Caeli

    Landon Caeli ~◇~

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    Messages:
    7,851
    Ratings:
    +2,443
    Religion:
    Catholic
    I don't believe I could hold that much money, and keep it to myself in all honesty, like some people do.
     
  3. lostwanderingsoul

    lostwanderingsoul Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2015
    Messages:
    2,943
    Ratings:
    +939
    Religion:
    seeking
    I hear the Catholic Church has a vast amount of money that they hold pretty tight. And most of it comes from poor people who could use it to buy food or medicine. I think those poor people are being more generous than the wealthy church they are supporting.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. 1213

    1213 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2017
    Messages:
    1,806
    Ratings:
    +326
    Religion:
    Disciple of Jesus
    If someone becomes rich, because some buy freely his products, I think there is nothing wrong in that. It is not stealing. But if someone who is able to help person who he sees needs help, but doesn’t help, that can be seen as a problem, in Biblical point of view. But giving money freely is not necessary always a good idea and not really helpful.
     
  5. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    Messages:
    9,345
    Ratings:
    +4,925
    Religion:
    spiritual anti-theist : )
    I would recast this a bit: If all of Bezo's employees were flourishing, AND he was paying his fair share to maintain "the commons" (roads, fire departments, police, good schools, a healthy environment, and so on), AND no one in Amazon's supply chain was being abused, THEN I wouldn't worry about his wealth. But he is failing on all three counts.
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2017
    Messages:
    3,203
    Ratings:
    +1,150
    Religion:
    None
    In a fair world, high intelligence would be considered a gift to be used in the service of others rather than an achievement to be rewarded.

    The combination of high intelligence and greed has plagued our species for as long as we can recall in our history. It surely is immoral to take so much more that you need.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,678
    Ratings:
    +2,510
    Religion:
    Catholic Christianity
    True but isn't he a product of the broader culture and economic system? He gets away with shoddy disregard for labour rights, unseemly working conditions and shirking his company's social obligations to the public good, because the system facilitates the kind of rapacious casino/crony capitalism that Amazon represents.

    In other words, the system that facilitated his colossal net worth is the same system that enables him to treat his own workers like dirt, avoid tax and refrain from properly giving back to society.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  8. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2014
    Messages:
    11,608
    Ratings:
    +3,326
    Religion:
    Pelagianism
    Being rich is not a guilt.
    I do think that the existence of the rich does not prevent us from creating social justice by giving everyone the opportunity to work a job they like, to earn and to save.
    We need a rich state apparatus that can put it into action.
     
  9. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

    Joined:
    May 1, 2017
    Messages:
    2,954
    Ratings:
    +1,208
    Religion:
    None religion here! Fading religiousity!
    I tend to think wealth is owed to the society that helped you create it. But giving wealth back to society shouldn't be done needlessly, or recklessly.

    Having wealth is a great opportunity to create institutions for the betterment of all mankind.

    I tend to think wealthy people are trying to grow their own paradise and Utopia. They weed out what they consider undesireable, and favor only those they deem untapped potential. Creating their own versions of meritocracy. They are social engineers, and not very good ones at that, but very effective.

    You can either rule by government, or rule by way of wealth or both. Which is more equitable and just? There must be weights and balances to justice and freedom without sacrificing freedom to defend those that are disadvantaged or disabled.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Mindmaster

    Mindmaster Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Messages:
    5,397
    Ratings:
    +2,778
    Religion:
    Theistic Satanist
    I think nothing is immoral about it if you earned it fairly. Bezos in particular mostly has got what he has just by providing exactly what his customers want. He didn't take it from anyone that wasn't giving it, etc.

    Soros makes his money by using NGO's to create problems in countries and then betting against them, lol. Who cares if he gives $32 billion away when he is a complete ***-hat. He's probably just giving it away because otherwise he'd just look like the thief he is.

    Most people who got rich did what Bezos did though... they got rich by giving people what they want... So, they are rich because they're more helpful than the average human being to society as a whole. If that's the root of evil I really don't wanna know what your concept of "good" is, lol.

    As far as "how much is too much" your standard of living really doesn't improve at all past a couple of billion dollars... With that sort of income you can buy anything you want, so most people who are hanging on to the excess aren't really hanging on to it but reinvesting it in other projects. (Bezos does this, in particular, as does Bill Gates/Warren Buffet/and others.) They usually have a low amount of liquid cash in comparison to their net worth.
     
  11. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,678
    Ratings:
    +2,510
    Religion:
    Catholic Christianity
    Well, yes, since it could have been used to improve the lives of uncounted multitudes of impoverished and gravely ill people.

    When Jesus enjoined the Rich Man in the synoptic gospels to give up all his wealth, he made a very clear stipulation: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

    It wouldn't be much credit to him for the money to be relinquished but without actually benefiting anyone.

    He has a duty to distribute those amassed resources to those most in need of it, as their dispenser, and to just 'burn it all away' with no social good would be heinous.
     
    #11 Vouthon, Feb 21, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. Landon Caeli

    Landon Caeli ~◇~

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    Messages:
    7,851
    Ratings:
    +2,443
    Religion:
    Catholic
    Thanks. I erased the question after remembering that it is illegal to burn money... So he could even be jailed for it, for up to 10 years.
     
  13. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,678
    Ratings:
    +2,510
    Religion:
    Catholic Christianity
    A sobering consideration.

    [​IMG]

    In 1820, the ratio between the income of the top percentile and the bottom 20% of the global populace was three to one. By 1991, it was eighty-six to one. In that intervening century and a half, economic growth powered ahead - faltering for a period most recently after the 2008 crash, then picking up - but the greater the wealth going around, the more it's being concentrated in the hands of an ever fewer pool of economic power-brokers.

    According to a study by Oxfam in 2019, the wealth of more than 2,200 global billionaires increased by $900bn in 2018 - that's $2.5bn per day. This 12% spike in the income of the very wealthiest cadre of people was matched by an almost equal (no pun intended!) and precipitous drop of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.

    To this end, I think St. John Chrysostom was right 2,000 years ago - superfluous wealth really does seem like theft, 'an injustice against someone’ else, when looked at from that perspective. And while technology and social values, in a number of countries, have progressed and may legitimately be thought of as continuing to progress (i.e. Ireland, to take one example, has gone from being a very reactionary country with conservative social values and a two-party system of right-wing parties in 1990 to having a gay Taoiseach and now a major left-wing party winning the most votes), its arguable that the income disparity between our planet's richest and poorest is regressing as is our meekness in the face of environmental destruction and anthropogenic global warming.

    On this latter point, just today, a leaked report from JP Morgan "the world’s largest financier of fossil fuels, has warned clients that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity and that the planet is on an unsustainable trajectory":

    JP Morgan economists warn climate crisis is threat to human race

    We often discuss moral progress and conscience together. As you know, I'm a believer in the reality of both - but whilst I see it in a number of fields, I'm not feeling it so much on the battle front of these two existential crises: arguably the most important facing our generation.
     
    #13 Vouthon, Feb 21, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Winner Winner x 1
  14. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    6,815
    Ratings:
    +8,089
    Religion:
    Irreligious Agnostic Atheistic Apatheist
    Don't mind me, I'm just here to flash my signature.
     
    • Winner Winner x 3
    • Funny Funny x 1
  15. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    Messages:
    9,345
    Ratings:
    +4,925
    Religion:
    spiritual anti-theist : )
    Agreed, but he also has to suspend his own personal morals and ethics. In other words, he didn't do anything illegal (probably), but he sure hasn't acted ethically.

    With all of that said, I also think that invention and innovation needs to be rewarded. So I'm not advocating for equal compensation across the board.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  16. halbhh

    halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things".

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2019
    Messages:
    606
    Ratings:
    +302
    Religion:
    Rescued of Jesus the Christ
    To the question, not so much a certain income, but rather simply when you encounter or are nearby in some sense to people in serious need.

    While Lazarus was literally at the gate of the rich man, I think this general proximity includes when you transverse often nearby to people in profound need also, not only then such as someone at the side of the road (as did the good Samaritan), but more off the road too. If we are able, then generally the desperate poor residing in the same city (if one is in a small town, then a broader area like a surrounding area). Being less rich but still doing ok, we still have the same obligation -- the good Samaritan was not necessarily wealthy but did have some ability to give some money to the inn keeper, as the situation in the moment needed. So, it seems to me the situation is often in part one-on-one, more close to us, more personal, quite often. Still, it does seem that having more wealth allows a broader area, people at more distance, but one could perhaps see faces still.
     
  17. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    2,786
    Ratings:
    +2,021
    Religion:
    Baha'i inspired liberal
    I personally think that a person can have great wealth so long as he uses it for the benefit of humanity.

    When Bill gates set out to eradicate the world of certain diseases he faced opposition from fanatics writing fatwas against immunisation.

    This shows that in some cases the genetically gifted amongst us can know better how to improve the lives of the poor than what the under-educated poor folk know in some cases.

    Therefore I vote to let the rich enter heaven whom God judges as having served the best interests of humanity.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  18. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I am the one who naps.
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    160,682
    Ratings:
    +48,282
    Religion:
    Bokononism
    I suppose one could argue that everyone commits some kind of injustice
    just because living means interacting, making mistakes, lapses in ethical
    judgment, & paying taxes to a government which occasionally does wrong.
    Setting aside that broad failing....
    Being rich need not mean having been unjust. Many of us make our money
    from entirely voluntary exchanges, thereby bettering lives of those around us.

    There...now that's settled.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  19. Landon Caeli

    Landon Caeli ~◇~

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    Messages:
    7,851
    Ratings:
    +2,443
    Religion:
    Catholic
    If I had the money, I would definitely use planes to spray DDT in Ethiopia. Those files are worth killing off for those poor people, regardless of the environmental costs.

    young-african-boy-with-flies-on-his-face-in-ethiopia-AT1TRH.jpg
     
  20. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,678
    Ratings:
    +2,510
    Religion:
    Catholic Christianity
    With respect, I consider your wording to be a tad troubling. There is perhaps an unintentional eugenical or socially darwinian-flavour to it.

    There are many genetic traits and the human person is more than the sum of his or her genetic makeup, as the burgeoning field of epigenetics is evidencing. Moreover, who gets to set a "value" on which traits are 'genetically gifted' as opposed to those which are allegedly 'leas gifted' or inferior? Once you assign value to whole classes of humans - 'gifted' 1$ and 'under-educated poor' (notwithstanding the fact that some highly educated people fall into the 'precariat' due to chronic illness or sudden financial loss) - I think we're entering dangerous ethical territory.

    I would be mindful of the great liberal theorist John Rawls' warning in this respect:


    "It is incorrect that individuals with greater natural endowments and the superior character that has made their development possible have a right to a cooperative scheme that enables them to obtain even further benefits in ways that do not contribute to the advantages of others. We do not deserve our place in the distribution of native endowments, any more than we deserve our initial starting place in society...

    This form of social order … uses equality of opportunity as a way of releasing men’s energies in the pursuit of economic prosperity and political dominion. … The culture of the poorer strata is impoverished while that of the governing and technocratic elite is securely based on the service of the national ends of power and wealth
    ."

    - John Rawls (b. 1921, d. 2002) was an American political philosopher in the liberal tradition


    Certain genetic capabilities might have been highly beneficial in a hunter-gather society but are not in the context of an advanced post-industrial, service-driven consumerist economy. Culture and environment are everything here.

    Does our culture and economic system really reward the "best" people?

    There is evidence to suggest that, whereas persons of a sociopathic way of thinking largely 'failed' to succeed in a hunter-gatherer society, courtesy of the reverse dominance hierarchy (the practice of expelling members from the group who tried to take more than others, thus endangering the tribe's survival), they are likely flourishing in the upper-echelons of our CEO, Big Tech dominated world.
     
Loading...