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The CEO of a very successful hip hop record label just finished building himself the biggest house in South Florida. His name is Ronald Slim Williams and he’s worth an estimated 300 million. I read an article where he talks about his success and at the end of that article he says hard work does pay off and if people are willing to work hard they can have the same kind of wealth and success he has. I understand the need to inspire people, especially young African-Americans, but I take issue with the idea that his wealth (and anyone else at his level) is a result of hard work. The super wealthy are always dangling this proverbial carrot in front of the less fortunate even though they know it’s a lie. That kind of wealth has absolutely nothing to do with hard work. More than anything it’s a result of pure luck, being in the right place at the right time, or being born into a family with wealth. I’m sure he works hard and he seems to have a very good mind for business and I know he’s very well versed in the workings of the music industry. All of that is a talent and I recognize that, so I’m not saying this to take anything away from him. All I’m saying is there are a million other people with those same talents who has worked just as hard but all of that didn’t produce hundreds of millions of dollars for them.
The chances of someone becoming that wealthy is 1 in a billion. Less than 1% of this country holds this kind of wealth and over the last two decades the super wealthy have actively pushed legislation that makes sure no one else has opportunities to build wealth, and are currently blocking avenues for the poor to lift themselves out of poverty. I’m not saying that Slim is doing this but I look at it like this, if someone with his power, influence, and political access stays silent while benefiting from the system that creates wealth inequality, they are just as responsible as the people who are marshaling their resources to rig the system in their favor (Koch Brothers, Art Pope, Sheldon Adelson etc are money hoarding pros).
Here’s something that a lot of people don’t understand. For every person who’s worth 9 figures and up (100,000,000+), they aren’t doing anything with their money. 99% of what they spend is money from tax breaks, capital investments, and bank interest. They don’t have to touch a dime of their money because that’s the way the system they created works. Essentially they are hoarders of wealth. It sits in a bank making them richer with interest. Our financial system creates a finite amount of money. In order for mega millionaires and billionaires to exist, there has to be extreme poverty. Children have to starve. Families have to be homeless. To put it in simpler terms lets say I created my own world and named it “Socurb”. In Socurb I print out 100 dollars and that’s all the money in my fictitious world. Socurb has a population of 11 people (including myself). I can distribute that 100 dollars anyway I’d like. So let’s say I decide to keep 99 dollars for myself and let the other 10 inhabitants divide the rest among themselves.
As long I sit on my 99 dollars no one else has an opportunity to get anywhere close to my kind of wealth, and in order for me to keep my wealth I know some of the inhabitants will starve, some will decide to use force or violence to steal money from other inhabitants, and every other negative outcome that poverty produces will occur. My wealth will protect me because I can afford security and my house will be very far away from the poor people. So any crimes committed will most likely be poor people stealing from other poor people. If I see all of this going on as a result of my wealth hording and continue to hoard my wealth, what kind of person does that make me?
I believe we should look at wealth inequality as a moral issue because that’s exactly what it is. It’s completely amoral for anyone to aspire to be a billionaire. Every single person who obtains great wealth and parks it in a bank or somewhere offshore is without question amoral and is personally responsible for every child who goes to bed hungry every night, for every homeless person they pass on the street, for every death that occurs as a result of a treatable disease, every inner-city neighborhood where crime flourishes and hopelessness abounds, for every dehumanizing hoop we make the poor jump through to receive any kind of assistance. That is the cost of their wealth. So this blog is not about envy. I do not envy billionaires and I have no interest in obtaining that kind of wealth. I could not enjoy the perks of that lifestyle knowing that my money is drenched in blood. I couldn’t live with that on my conscience. Of course I’d love to be rich and I’m not knocking rich people at all. There’s a huge difference between rich and wealthy. 7 or 8 figures is rich and is a sign of a healthy meritorious financial system. Those who are creating new technology, or finding cures for disease deserve a bigger piece of the financial pie. But when a system creates consolidated wealth and distributes it to a few, that is the sign of a very unhealthy system. The larger that gap grows, the more instability and restlessness you’ll see among the 99%.
Proud supporter of Kay Hagan for North Carolina Senate. She represents the constituents of North Carolina with integrity and I believe she has earned another term in office.