SP Austen writes on a vast array of subjects, with particular attention on subjects which influence human consciousness.
The title of this article might alarm some among you; many people think that wealth can't possibly be a problem of any description. However, let's look at wealth more closely and the reasons why it presents so many problems in the world.
It is currently estimated (2018) that there are over 2,200 Billionaires in the world; more than 600 of them reside in the USA alone. This is without all the multi-millionaires which are in an even greater number. Yet, what do we see taking place in the world? We see the same things that were taking place half a century ago, in terms of world poverty and exploitation.
I remember, growing up in England, seeing constant news reports about the starving masses in Biafra. (Biafra was then a state in West Africa which existed from 1967 to 1970.) I can still vividly recall the starving children shown with their stomachs bloated from starvation.
Many charities became involved, yet the problem never really appears to have disappeared. Names of countries may change, but the issues remain the same, it seems. If we look at Africa, as well as many other countries, we see continual poverty and starvation, people living in shanty towns amidst deplorable conditions.
Most of these issues are due to callous governments and regimes which 'run' these countries, so I do realise that the issue is not just of a financial order.
However, as soon as there is a tsunami, earthquake, typhoon, hurricane or flood, charities call upon members of the public (from Western countries mostly) to contribute. And we do; we all send millions to help, giving whatever we can.
Yet, just one billionaire could step in and solve the problem by writing a cheque. Several of them together might change the economic situation of the world.
The Eye of the Needle
Yes, we hear about the very wealthy helping charities, and then we hear about the charities not really helping the people who need it directly, save for a few of them. In the end, we all wonder who we can trust, who we should donate to, where will our money actually help the most, without being wasted or abused? Is this even just a tax write-off for the wealthy, who couldn't care less what happens to their 'generous donation' as long as they get the desired tax-break?
It is a crime that homelessness exists anywhere in the world, and an even greater crime that it has happened to ordinary people who, through economic troubles and downturns have fallen on hard times and are now living in their cars or on the streets, or in 'tent cities.' They are not all drug-addicts and drunks, which is the stereotypical view of homelessness; these are people like you and me, hit by economic crisis.
It is even more shameful that such homelessness exists in the United States, one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, and such a situation also exists in many other 'developed' countries.
Would it really be such a stretch of imagination to envisage at least one billionaire stepping forward and creating a charity that helps the homeless to actually get homes, food, clothing and the essentials of life, and to create training programs where they can get back into the workforce? Most homeless people simply need a fixed address in order to get into work and out of their situation, as employers won't give them a job unless they have a fixed address.
Is it because these immensely rich people are so attached to the need for several homes, a fleet of top of the range cars, a yacht or two, and all the power that immense wealth brings with it, that they have lost sight of the fact that an individual needs much less to live on? Truly, it would be easier for the proverbial camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Money Equals Power
The real issue with money in this very material world, is that those who have the lion's share of it just can't face parting with any of it; it gives them too much power. We can all see how the very wealthy quickly rub shoulders with the rich and famous, with politicians and the media, simply because they have the money to do so and to get the attention they crave because of it.
This is madness. When will the world wake up and realise that many immensely rich people have very little substance to them, save for perhaps a small minority whom we usually don't hear much about?
Yet the world fetes these rich individuals as if, by merit of their wealth alone, they have some special quality that makes them superior to the rest of us plebs who only wish we could touch the hem of their expensive designer clothes. The wealth and the clothes maketh not the man.
If ever we needed to wake up and see that this world in which we find ourselves, is a false world with false values, it is now, when all the wealth in the world could be tapped into as a resource for the greater good.
A Billionaire's Club
It's as if the immensely wealthy have their own little club going, where they all just do as they please, buying up everything in sight and consuming far more in one year than the average citizen will ever do in their entire lifetime.
I have often mused that if I were in such a wealthy bracket, that I would create a benevolent billionaire's club where several immensely wealthy people together could pool their vast resources of wealth, and commit such money to projects that actually build homes and get the homeless into work. Other projects could be to write off some of the Third World debt that is crippling small countries and repaying the debt back to the Western countries who loaned it, on the proviso that this same money must go back into the national economy of the lending country.
Money has often been viewed as a 'dirty' word, but in fact, it has stood the test of time as the best form of financial exchange amongst the human race for thousands of years; it certainly beats the ancient, and unfair 'barter' system, which is still extant in some countries among small communities. No, my daughter is worth ten camels you fool, not three, and I will not settle for a camel less. It doesn't work.
The monetary system is basically fair, but the distribution of wealth is decidedly unfair. It is impossible to conceive how anyone who has far more than the necessities of life and personal security can sleep at night knowing that their wealth could literally run a small country.
What Money Really is
Money is not something that actually belongs to any of us. On any banknote you will find that it states that it belongs to the national bank of the country of issue. Jesus recognised this well, when he asked to see a coin that depicted Caesar's face on it. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God, what is God's" He said. A coin or a note with the Queen's head on it, belongs to the Bank of England. A coin or note with the American Eagle on it belongs to the Bank of the United States of America.
We borrow money. We only share it and it moves around from place to place and from person to person. It is a communal system, a commodity that belongs to the national bank, of which each one of us has a right to access and use as a means of exchange. It does not belong to any of us.
None of us came into this world with anything but the naked body that appeared blaring and helpless into the bright light of day. We certainly won't take anything material with us when we leave this world, either. That should remind us all that the only thing we really own is the character that we have built and developed over a lifetime.
It is a curious thing, that when any one group of people wants to humiliate or destroy another group of people or any individual, that they often strip that person (or group of people) naked first. We associate our dignity, our personal prestige, with clothing on our backs, at the very basic level. When we add immense wealth to this basic concept, then you have the illusion of power. But people are not their clothing, their homes, their cars. We are all naked, only propped up by our material possessions.
When all of us realise, (and in particular the very wealthy few) that money is a communal resource, that none of us actually owns anything, we will begin to see the emergence of that utopia and equality of living that has been hoped for all down the centuries.
© 2018 S P Austen
S P Austen (author) from Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada on July 14, 2019:
Thank you Tiffany,
A very good response and some valid points that you make too.
Certainly one of the issues of having more money than necessary for a good life is that people tend to take it for granted and get wrapped up in their own needs or wants.
Tiffany Anne from Port Huron, MI on July 14, 2019:
I really enjoyed this article, and you brought up some great points. I agree that homelessness and poverty are often the result of economic crisis / situation, rather than things like alcohol or drugs (though clearly they can both potentially cause financial trouble too).
I think a large part of the reason billionaires are reluctant to give more is that they become accustomed to being very wealthy. The problem with money is that you can always have more. I think on some instinctual level, people always feel the need for more wealth. For any average human being, a billion dollars seems like a tremendous amount of money , but if you've been a billionaire for a while and are used to that lifestyle, that amount of money would obviously be perceived differently.
S P Austen (author) from Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada on October 06, 2018:
Well, that's the longest response I've had to any of my articles yet; thank you, I think? I do of course recognise that many homeless people do choose that path for various reasons, but my point was mainly aimed at the homelessness issue around those who do not make that choice and want and need help. I support the Invisible People campaign in this regard, as it highlights just how many homeless people are not drug addicts or alcoholics. Yes, Jesus did say that the poor will always be with us; whether he meant that was a consciousness issue that keeps them poor is hard to know for certain. Everyone buys products from all kinds of sources, but those at the top making the massive income are responsible to use that money unselfishly. Those of us who do not make millions or billions can also give where we can but we certainly can't donate what we don't have. It's not that we don't appreciate what billionaires give to the world, is that what are they actually using their wealth for?
RTalloni on October 06, 2018:
Hmmm. Comments here will prove interesting. It is crucial to note that not by a long shot are wealthy people anymore all the same than poor people. Many do really good work with their monies, though it is true that some only use it to destroy themselves. Some say they do good work with it, but are actually using that profession to cover criminal activity.
Regarding the American billionaires you mention the number who made their wealth by offering a product, an entertainment, or a service that people want to buy is notable. Who gets the credit for their success is a question that can be turned into the more thought-provoking consideration of who is actually responsible for their accumulation of wealth.
After all, if everyone who bought Apple products in one year banded together to forgo their purchases and pool their money to help the homeless it would amount to a lot of money. The same is true for major ball games. By your standard, wouldn't the people buying the product or entertainment be as guilty as the wealthy suppliers if they used the money that way instead of giving it to the homeless?
Something more to think about is that some people choose homelessness and would find your criminality statement concerning. Some of these want to live free, preferring meals given out free rather than working for them, not minding living outdoors or using public facilities that others pay for and maintain by earning money to use after paying taxes on it. Some of these are criminals using homelessness to hide themselves as they move from place to place. They may be criminals, but they do not want homelessness to be a crime.
Helping truly needy people is something no one argues against, but anyone, wealthy or not, who works with the needy knows that there will be some who are offered help but who simply will not embrace the opportunity to improve their lot in life. These refuse real help, though again, their reasons are not all the same.
Also, when quoting statements from the BIble it is important to remember that they have context and application within their theme. Looking at the selections you've chosen, a foil to your purpose in using them could be that Jesus the Christ said that the poor would always be with us.
Why is that true? (A lot of reasons, the wealthy not being the primary one.) What is the solution? (Helping them, but if we follow the Bible we know that wisdom is needed so we can avoid enabling the lazy, the addict, or the criminal.) And what was the context of this statement about the poor? (Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12 most specifically.)