Tag Archives: Rich

Are You Rich?

Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, recently addressed the Harvard University graduating class during which he said:

“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas,”

A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a concept that has gained quite a bit of attention recently.  Finland has recently started experimenting with the idea and Canada and India are giving it consideration.  Finland may be the first country to practice UBI, but it is hardly the first Government to do so.  The city of Livorno, Italy began a UBI program in June of 2016.

Switzerland rejected a UBI referendum by more than 75% of voters.

It is interesting that supporters of UBI view it as the means of addressing income inequality in society today.  It is interesting that this particular reporter terms it as an urgent necessity.  Definitely something we must absolutely have.

In my estimation, UBI is nothing more than a repackaged welfare (see definition 3) program that is completely socialistic in nature.  These ideas are nothing new and have been around for thousands of years.  Consider the account from Mark 14:3-8 in which some self-righteous people where quite upset at what they considered a waste of money.

It is interesting to me that we hear very little about the fact that Jesus was in the home of Simon, a leper, when this story is recounted.  Or the fact that the woman that brought the box of alabaster apparently had the resources to possess it, and yet she also came to the house of the leper (something a person of wealth would not normally do).  But these are thoughts for another time.

The point I’d like to get to in the account is that there were those that pondered the thought that the ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred pence and the proceeds given to the poor.  Basically welfare.  Socialism.  Sell the goods of the rich, and give them to the poor.  A concept put forth by the Jewish culture some 2,000+ years ago.

As long as there has been inequality in the world, which Spiritually occurred about the instant that Adam took a bite of the forbidden fruit, and Physically has been since about 30 seconds after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, mankind has been looking for ways to make things equal again.

Of course in doing so we have been ignoring the words of Jesus when he answered those very same self-righteous distractors with:

And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.  For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.”

I relish the fact that Jesus told them that (basically) they could do good for the poor whenever they wanted to.  I kind of feel the same way about those crying out about inequality today.  No one is stopping you from helping the poor and you don’t need to wait on anyone else to start.

The interesting thing about all of these social experiments to me is that the terms are all relative.  Compared to most (or perhaps even all) of my wife’s family, we are very rich.  However, compared to the people that live just six miles down the road from me, I might be considered poor (the houses in the community six miles down the road average $2,750,000.00 per home.  About 7.37 times the cost of my home).  And those folks could even be considered poor when contrasted to Mr. Zuckerberg.

Another interesting thing to me is that Jesus actually said that those that would inherit the kingdom of heaven, would be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).  And with good reason too.  God cannot help you if you are rich.  The rich people of the world don’t run to God every night asking for their next meal or a place to lay their head.  Only the poor people do that.  Sometimes we lose our dependency upon God because we become too rich for him.  We no longer need his help.  We are self-sufficient without him and are happy to keep him on the shelf in the event that bad times come our way.

And yet we still feel like we need to play social games with society.  We need to wipe out inequality.

Alright, I’ll play along.  I’ve got a proposition for Mr. Zuckerberg:

Hey Mark, if you’re reading (and I know you’re not) let’s try a small scale UBI experiment right here at home.

I currently make a little over $130,000.00 USD/year.  I’ll use that as a round number.  I have (roughly) six years to retirement (I could conceivably retire earlier, but lets go to minimum retirement age).

My idea of a “new idea” is to purchase a yacht (how about this one: Sea Ray Fly 460) and to make the Great Loop while writing about the experience and the people I meet here on this Blog.

But obviously I can’t do that on my present income.  I would, of course, still need to meet my basic family expenses, for six years at my current salary that would be $780,000.00, I’d have the cost of the yacht, about $750,000.00, and I’d have the operating expenses of the yacht itself, lets estimate $200,000.00/year or $1,200,000.00 for six years.  That would be $2,730,000.00.  We could just round that up to $3,000,000.00.

Why doesn’t Facebook hire me for a $3,000,000.00 USD contract for six years (I’d bring some diversity to the company since I’m sure you’d agree my political, social, and religious views are different than your own) and I’ll become an ambassador traveling around interviewing people about their situation in life, compiling statistics on exactly what a correct UBI would amount to, as well as exploring the mechanics of such a plan to see if it could realistically be met.  At the end of the six years I’d sail off into retirement, and you could evaluate just how well your $3,000,000.00 was spent.  A social experiment and you get an employee out of the deal as well!

I’ll be waiting for your call ………………….

Life Isn’t Fair

There is a philosophy of fairness gripping our world today.  Governments speak of inequities that exist between rich and poor, healthy and sick, happy and sad.  The have’s and the have not’s.  It is unnerving to some that so few could have so much and so many could have so little.  They want to right the wrongs, spread the wealth around, and build one great big happy utopia.  It has been tried time and time again through philosophies such as socialism, communism, or collectivist activism.  And each time it has failed.  And yet it is strived for.

The amazing thing to me is that no one ever asks the question as to why the inequities exist in the first place.  If your world view embraces a God you might ask the question as to why God allows some to be rich and some to be poor.  If your world view does not embrace a God you might ask the question as to why we cannot make things equal across the board.  We struggle with the fact that Life just isn’t fair.

Something that might be considered is that if your world view encompasses a God, then he might be the arbitrator of fairness in life.  Perhaps it is God who rewards and who takes away.  And all of our shuffling, and redistribution, and efforts cannot alter the plans of a God.

If your world view does not encompasses a God, then you are fighting the great cosmic entropy and the randomness of the Universe itself is beating down upon your very efforts.  Of course if your world view does not encompass a God, one might ask where your compassion comes from anyway or why you even care.

Either way it is an impossible task and the question then becomes why does it consume us so?

There is one world view that embraces, understands, and works within the great divides in life.  And that world view is the Christian world view.

For me, inequities in life are understandable and are readily worked with.  My world view of a God is not only liberating in this sense, it is also practicable in helping me deal with and change the inequities that touch me on a daily basis.

This is because the very definition of God is infinite in every direction and all encompassing of everything.

Recently I saw the question: why would a perfect God allow bad things to happen to good people?  And the answer was (and is) very plain to me.  Could a God build a perfect world?  Of course he could.  But if he did, where would my choice come in?  Where would my opportunity come from?  Or where would I be tested and proven to be true.

I love the quote of former Congressman J.C. Watts who said his grandmother used to tell him that true character was doing the right thing in the woods when no one else was around to see or to record the events.

The “world” is our woods.  And our “woods” is full of unfairness and challenges.  It is up to each and every one of us to do the right thing even if no one records it.  Why?  Because that is our test of character.

The Marines have a slogan: Do the Right Thing, At the Right Time, For the Right Reason.  If everything were equal across the board, there would be no measure of character, because everyone would always act the same way.

So why would a God allow such a system to exist?  Why would a God test us in such a way?  Well for me it goes back to my God’s infinite nature.  All of the myriad of differences in the world (and indeed the Universe) are all tiny reflections of an infinite God.  They are an expression of who, what, and why he is.  The inequities in life allow God to work.  The system allows God to be God.  Not for himself, God cannot suddenly stop being God, but rather for us.  It allows us to see God for who he truly is.

You see, from my world view, without sickness we would not know healing, without pain we could not know relief, without poverty we could not measure wealth, without suffering we could not measure joy, and without disobedience there could be no Grace.  It is the very antitheses of the system that allows us to see the beauty on the other side.  We make the mistake of believing that we may know beauty without ever having experienced ugliness.  But if all you had ever known in your entire life, from birth, was beauty, and you asked me to describe something other than beauty, how would I do that?  And how would you conceive it?  I contend it would be impossible.  And if the only thing you ever knew in life was beauty, where would your sense of appreciation come from?  And from what standpoint would you experience accomplishment?

No, Life isn’t fair, and I’m afraid you can do everything in your power to change that and you will find that it will always be that way during this age.

Rather than engaging in some vain fight to change something that we cannot, why not take it for what it is?  The opportunity to Do the Right Thing when no one else is around to see you do it.  Literally the opportunity to Do the Right Thing, At the Right Time, For the Right Reason.

If we all did this, we might all just be surprised at the growth of our Character,  and the changes in inequities that it just might effect within our world.