It can be difficult to save when you think being wealthy is evil. You will likely start to sabotage your efforts and make your life difficult if you continue to believe being wealthy is evil even subconsciously. There are many movies and stories that portray the rich person as evil. Mr. Burns, the Scrooge, Lex Luthor, etc… So it isn’t surprising that many people think being rich is a bad thing. There are even groups of people that feel like earning more money than you need to survive is evil. They would point to companies that utilize cheap labor in “sweatshops” that have poor working conditions as evil. The owners of these companies become wealthy off the efforts of their workers. It doesn’t sound fair that the owners are taking such a large share of the added value created by the workers.
The argument against being wealthy sounds at least somewhat reasonable. However, we need to look deeper at these arguments before making a decision. The vast majority of wealthy people got that way by providing more value than they used. Money is a holding container for the value you have created for someone so that they can later return the favor.
What about that company that uses the sweatshop labor? Even that company is providing value to society. First, every person that buys clothes from them gets those clothes at a far cheaper price than they would have otherwise. Most people understand this, and that is why most people buy clothes from companies that use cheap labor. In addition to providing value to the customers, the company is also providing value to the workers. As hard as it is to believe for those of us living in America, working at the sweatshop is the best job available to the workers. They are free to work at the best job available to them and they choose to work for the company. Without this job, it is very possible that the workers wouldn’t have enough money to eat.
Is it fair that we were born in America with a minimum wage upwards of $7/ hour and they were born in a place where they are happy to make $0.44 per hour? No, but the company didn’t create those conditions. In fact, by employing people in that area, the company is actively raising the demand for their labor and thus improving those people’s options. In a free market, you go where you get the best deal and by providing additional competition, the businesses must provide a better deal to get enough employees.
What about people that don’t need to work for money? What value do they provide? They may not be doing manual labor at a job, but they are definitely using that money to either loan to or buy businesses that will provide value to their customers. By sacrificing desires now, they are allowing businesses to provide value to people and end up making more money as a result. Under a free-market system, everyone chooses their best option. If your best option is a minimum wage job, then a company isn’t taking advantage of you when they offer you the best option you could find. They are helping you to earn money and develop skills that you can use to provide more value and in return find a higher paying job.
The one problem I see with a free market system is that while the vast majority of successful companies are ethical in that they provide excellent value to their customers so their success grows, there are some companies that create unfair advantages for themselves that actually undermine people’s free choice.
An example would be a power company. It makes sense for the power company to be a monopoly because we wouldn’t want to have to create multiple infrastructures for the power grid by each company. However, since the power company is a monopoly, they could charge almost any price to their competitors because they are missing competitors that would force them to lower their prices. These rare circumstances where the free market breaks are where we need the government to step in. The government should step in and set price or profit limits on the power company so they can’t take advantage of their customers. The problem is when the power company invests heavily in politics to get politicians to pass laws that make energy costs higher for the consumers and regulations that prevent customers from using alternative sources of energy like solar. These are the circumstances where we need to protect ourselves and be active in politics to eliminate the corruption that can create wealth for people and companies that don’t provide proportionate value to their customers.
As long as you pursue money with integrity and try to provide more value than your customers are paying for, then I commend you for adding value to society. This is what I try to do and as a result, I have no moral reservation for trying to be wealthy. In fact, I think of it as a duty to provide as much value as possible and that money is a measure of the value I am providing.
What do you think? Is becoming wealthy evil?