Distributing Wealth

I recently heard a pastor say something along the lines of the following:

If you were to evenly distribute all the wealth across this whole country, so that every person had exactly the same amount of money, down to the penny, in five years the people who were rich would be rich again, and the poor people would be poor again.

If nothing else, it certainly will make you think. So, what do you think about that?

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10 Responses to “Distributing Wealth”

  1. Jennifer Bryant April 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    I think there would definitely be some exceptions, but overall, I think that might be an accurate statement.

  2. Curtis April 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    Not a real earth-shattering insight. Jesus said the same thing around 25 AD: “The poor you will always have with you”. But that does not remove from us the responsibility to take care of the needy, or our own responsibility to make sure we have our priorities straight.

    Successful programs don’t exist to re-distribute wealth, but to take care of real needs — which will always exist.

  3. God at play April 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    I think 5 years is a little ridiculous. At least for me, I have more faith in humanity than to think everyone would be back in the same place that soon. You can’t completely control why you’re poor. Being poor is mostly about lack of opportunity, and there are quite a few people who would gain opportunity by gaining a large sum of money. Not that it would solve all our problems.

    More importantly, a perfectly even income would lead to a LOT more spending, which would boost our economy (so much so it’d be dangerous if done all at once!). So our economy would grow a LOT if all the sudden millions have expendable money and were spending it. If they weren’t they’d be saving it, which is just fine too! Anyway, that growth would help everyone and work against the “back to square one” effect.

    Anyone remember how there used to be a Year of Jubilee? Debts were forgiven every 7 years. That thought experiment isn’t too far from the Year of Jubilee. So let’s not forget GOD COMMANDED that kind of behavior at one point. The Acts church was essentially a continual, informal version of it, like a Life of Jubilee. 🙂 I’m sure it wasn’t simply a hand-out system tho.

    I get the point being made, and to a degree I think it’s technically accurate. But I guess the attitude behind it seems more like a Pharisee/Sadducee kind of attitude. No offense to the pastor, unless it would lead to a change in attitude. Then I guess I intend some offense, haha.

  4. Distilledopinion April 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    I’ve heard this for years. There is no proof this is true. It is just something the wealthy say to justify their position. I say, let’s test this.

  5. Jesse April 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    I TOTALLY agree. Money is an idea. It has nothing to do with the paper currency or what you think you can or cannot buy with it. The rich know how to create money out of nothing- they do this by using their brains and being creative- going public with their companies, creating notes on real estate, inventing and marketing ideas. This is something that the poor are not used to doing. They are used to working (or not working) for their money and then spending everything they have. They haven’t taken the time to learn how money works to get out of their financial position.

    The middle class is an odd intersection- they want to look rich while spending MORE than they earn. Not a good place to be in, and part of the reason we are in our current financial state.

    So, yeah, I agree- in 5 years or less and the rich would be rich again and the poor poor. There would obviously be a few exceptions, but not as many as you’d think.

  6. Brian April 16, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    I wil assume that this is a politically pointed assertion. While I do agree that the educated and skilled people of the world will always rise to the top this statement assumes that those who are rich right now are those people. In many cases the people at the top in this country are the greedy, those without morals and members of the lucky sperm club. The fact of the matter is that the people who made their way to the top had to do it within the framework of the laws on the books. Many of which allow for immoral choices. If we could close the loop holes that allow enslaving people in other countries so that we can produce cheap products or change laws that allow for the butchering of our natural resources to make a buck, then I would be on the side of the rich. But until you can prove that the rich have what is best for the country in mind, I want my tax dollars to stop going to billionaires subsidies to make them wealthier.

    As you say, if everyone was made equal the rich would be rich again very shortly. It is up to society to determine what we value and where we want our resources to be used. I don’t want my resources going to someone who lies, cheats, steals and manipulates their way to the top. So I guess the assertion that the same group would rise to the top is dependent on what the rules of the game were and what the incentives were for following the rules.

  7. Derek Johnson April 16, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    I believe this is an accurate general statement. Brain research has shown that pathways between neurons in the brain are created and repeated over the course of one’s life. It’s been put simply: “What fires together, wires together.” In the case of addictive behaviors, new pathways must be created between impulse and action – essentially new brain behavior.

    In the circumstance presented above, the only change is the temporary possession of more money (for some) and less money (for others) than the present state. For those who have developed the skills for investing excess money, they will naturally repeat that process. For those who have developed the skills for spending all available money (including the middle class), they will naturally repeat that process.

    I agree that there are some who today are poor that have the skills and insight to reinvent the way in which they manage money if given the opportunity. I would argue, however, that the middle-class have an even greater likelihood of returning to their present state than the poor. Their tendency to spend more than they make happens even within a system where they have the opportunity to adapt those habits. Those with opportunities to change but neglect to do so are far worse off than those without such opportunities but the motivation to do so.

    These are, of course, my humble opinions.

  8. Renee April 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    I think things would fundamentally change, because our current government is captured by the wealthy. If all of a sudden the middle class and poor could have the same access, then yes, everything would change, at least for a few generations. Imagine if Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase only had the same access to power that the rest of us do. Things would change very fast…

    What would make more of a difference is to eliminate the legal definition of a person to exclude corporations. Putting those organizations in back of real people would do a lot to make our systems favor needs of real people over the supposed “needs” of “faux people.”

  9. R.H. April 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    From a non-religious perspective, this could be accurate. People who have been rich will find a way to be rich again, even if they don’t lie, cheat, or do unethical things. People who are poor will do the things that made them poor, by spending in order to keep up appearance.

    In a sectarian point of view, it’s interesting because are those who are rich “rich” and those who are poor “poor”?

    • R.H. April 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

      After thinking about it a little more throughout today, and after reading a book I picked up at the library, it’s not about politics or economics.

      It’s about behavior. Those who are rich or have been rich for a long time will either save or find ways to increase their wealth. Those who are poor may not see money as an investment, but as a means to purchase things to make them happy and satisfied. A close analogy to this would be professional athletes. Most of them did not grow up in affluent homes or communities. They see the opportunity to succeed and receiving money as a way to get the things they never had in their lives.

      Nevertheless, the one question that remain open is “if everyone was given the same amount of monetary funds and we witness the end result as the preacher who quoted has said, who would be happy about their lot?

      The rich or the poor?

      Neither. Because the rich will have everything and feel “empty” and the poor will feel “empty” because they have nothing.