Values in this Life – Money, Wealth, Riches

Some thoughts on treasures…

September 16, 2019


Finances are often a big part of our lives. We work for a living. The cost of everything seems to increase more than our income. We worry about having enough for now and the future. We deal with finances daily.

I came across an article that was not quick, light reading for me. It discusses the roles of a number of extremely wealthy "influencers" and how they might affect human life and conditions in our country and world on a magnitude that is frightening.
(1) Overall, it is a very sad article to me, and it raises some concerns. The subtitle of this article could facetiously be “The worth/value of manipulating people and society with obscene amounts of money.”

One takeaway for me was the little quote-meme shown above. How sad! Is that really what the whole world is, "nothing more than a flow chart for capital?" This is not what I would want to model in my own life or focus my dreams.

Another article I saw related how Jeff Bezos has leveraged his wealth and business ventures into the largest fortune ever controlled or belonging to one person in history. (2) “He (Jeff Bezos) has gotten $50 billion richer in less than a year. He needs to spend roughly $28 million a day just to keep from accumulating more wealth.” His net worth is now somewhere around $140-150 Billion, making him the wealthiest person on earth in all of history. Whoop-de-doo! Good for him.

The article is worth reading, sort of, evaluating from one perspective how he has come to be so wealthy. Think about it the next time you order some item you want, pay for it with a few clicks on a keyboard or phone, and have it delivered the next day to your door.

So what? I don’t follow him or his life. But I did see a clip about him wanting to be involved in helping set up a colony in space that would be home to many humans when or if earth became uninhabitable. That sounds "incredibly reasonable" to me, seeing as how he cannot even manage to live in peace and harmony with a wife. As Kermit
the Frog says in a commonly seen meme, “That’s none of my business.”

My thoughts here are not really focused on the wealth to be found in this world. My mom used to say – “I don’t want to be rich, I just want to have enough to make being poor fun.” I think she could see that often, really rich people are not always the
happiest, nor the most fun to be around. What is wealth? What are riches?

There is a common political catch-phrase now - “income inequality” - especially for those known as SJWs
on social media (“social justice warriors”). Equality itself seems like it is a good thing – who would be against wanting equality for all? After all, it certainly must be found in our Constitution, and the Pledge of Allegiance (“…liberty and justice for all”). Well, it’s not, really, but is sort of assumed. The 14th Amendment is about as close as it comes –

“…All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

We are all equal in the eyes of God, but we are certainly not equal in our abilities, nor our efforts, nor in our "lot" in life. Some are born into poor families and conditions - some are born wealthy. Those "lots" can change over the course of a lifetime, depending on choices, and effort, and sometimes what often appears to be "luck." What the Constitution talks about is "equal protection" so that each one can work out his own life. Note that the distinction is made for "Citizens" of this country and of a respective State (not illegal aliens).

There are many now in this political climate who want to "spread the wealth" around. They want to "tax the rich" so that they will be paying "their fair share." They seem to want "equal outcomes" and not just equal rights. So how do you achieve that? Do you take the wealth that someone has acquired through their skill and hard work and give it to someone else 
just willy-nilly because they "deserve" it?

Just for the record, the top 1% of taxpayers pay roughly 37% of all the taxes collected in the U.S., and the top 50% of taxpayers pay 97% of the taxes.
 (3) How much would the "fair share" be? (Perhaps we should focus more on how the government spends the money it receives... Another topic!)

What is the government for? Can – or should – the government try to control how people like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, or Buffet, or Oprah make and spend their fortunes? That is not the business of the government, especially under our U.S. Constitution, which in itself is perhaps the
most fair and just and reasonable set of laws for a government ever devised by man in all of history.

“In the 33rd annual Forbes list of the world's billionaires, the list included 2,153 billionaires with a total net wealth of $8.7 trillion, down 55 members and $400 billion from 2018. The U.S. continued to have the most billionaires in the world, with a record of 609, while China dropped to 324 (when not including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan). Kylie Jenner, at 21 years old, was included in the 2019 list for her first time and is currently the youngest billionaire in the world.” (4)

For perspective:

The total debt of the United States is roughly $22 Trillion.
The total net worth of all of the world’s billionaires is roughly $9 Trillion.

Just using those two figures alone, and if the U.S. had access to the fortunes of all the billionaires around the world, all of the wealth of these 2,000-plus wealthiest people would not even cover half of our country’s debts. And that is if all of their resources were taken, not just taxed excessively.

What’s my point? Do I even have a point? Just some thoughts of mine, looking at the big picture, looking for perspective.

My point might be this. There is no monetary value that you can place on peace, or faith, or love, or health.

My favorite financial advisor would still be Jesus. From the New Testament, in the Bible, the words of Jesus:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and wealth.
  Matthew 6:19-24


NOTES:
1: https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/26/stanley-druckenmiller-and-paul-tudor-jones-the-billionaire-networks-behind-harlems-human-capital-lab/

2: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/jeff-bezos-s-150-billion-fortune-is-a-policy-failure (This article was originally published on August 1, 2018, by The Atlantic, and was republished here with permission.)

3: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-14/top-3-of-u-s-taxpayers-paid-majority-of-income-taxes-in-2016

4: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World%27s_Billionaires


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Paul Hayden is a Christian believer, and an American patriot, necessarily in that order. He is a student of the Bible, and is avidly interested in our role in the context of history, as understood through the heart and eyes of faith. Paul has lived and traveled somewhat widely, and now lives in the heartland of the U.S. (central Illinois), with his wife Donna - they have five grown children. Since December of 2016, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief of www.ConservativeTruth.org.