When is enough money, for one individual, enough? And should those who have acquired extreme wealth, such as contemporary billionaires, be obligated to share their excessive wealth, whether via exceptional taxation legislation, or other civilised means?
These thoughts came to my consciousness in light of a recent article published (Feb 6th 2019) in the New York Times, written by Farhad Manjoo, and republished locally. He in turn cites a blogging colleague called Tom Socca, who in late 2018 raised the relatively radical concept of abolishing billionaires. In essence, Tom believes billionaires are bad for our communities, and humanity. Perhaps even, this blue planet too.
Essentially, many of us can observe, among our own, among transnational celebrities and business people, that all too often, making more money (or saving it), becomes an end in itself. For some, success is measured in dollars (or each countries’ currency equivalent), and entrenched greed causes people to strive endlessly for more. Like a hoarder, such behaviour may become pathological.
Locally I observe greed as affluent investors protest about taxation changes
proposed by an opposition party striving for imminent electoral success. For these people, most taxes are bad and need to be minimised. They seek to retain and grow their wealth, to avoid eroding their capital, and some say, to leave a legacy for their children. Entitled children, others might say, so that they too can perpetuate this greed and entitlement.
Taxation is vital in a civilised and democratic society. It is a wealth distribution system, as well as the critical hub allowing a society to build and maintain essential services and infrastructure, and to provide social security to those with extreme disadvantage or disability. Taxation is good, and helpful, if we desire a safe, successful, harmonious and supportive society. It is always the case that every individual with means should pay their fair share. In turn, there is a strong moral case that billionaires should pay much more, else they are simply hoarders.
Interestingly, at a psychological level, greedy people are essentially anxious and insecure, worried that they might lose their millions (or billions), and so behave accordingly, blind to the consequences of so many others in their humanistic domain. Too bad more of them cannot learn from the Buddhist tradition of being able to let go. Nothing is permanent, including they, even if their wealth builds monuments to self, to satisfy their earth-bound egos.