I saw you – you were hard to miss. The words that come to mind are … strong. Casual. Decisive. Direct. Healthy. Vigorous. These are all excellent qualities, to be admired. And although I don’t know you, I can guess that you are admired. Many people aspire to be like you. Many people look up to you, and respect you.
But as you are no doubt aware, many other people resent you. Some probably even despise you … dare I say, hate you. Maybe that authoritative veneer, which I can’t help but be attracted to, comes partly from wanting to make your skin so hard that the resentment will just glance off of you, without sinking in. Because if you paid attention to every person who has a problem with you and the wealth that you hold, you would never get anything done. I get that.
I just read a wonderful speech by Kofi Annan. He used to run the United Nations and no doubt ran up against the most massive wall on the planet – the wall that is firmly in place to protect the status quo. He is a very, very good man, who keeps on trying despite all that he is up against.
By the way, Wealthy Man – I can tell that you are a good man, too. I just wanted to point that out at this juncture, in case you had started to decide to shut yourself down here. I mean it – I can tell that you want to do something good. That’s why I’m talking to you. I’m not just saying that. I see it.
Anyway, in Kofi Annan’s speech, he alludes to “economic inequality”. But he doesn’t talk about it. Instead, he talks about “political inequality”. He’s referring to the fact that all of your wealth basically buys you extra votes. It’s supposed to be “one person, one vote”, however, it isn’t. We all know that. If you are rich, you pretty much have access to more influence, more pull, more media, and therefore, more potential say over who gets elected. Given that, it’s basically the fact that you have more votes. Annan is an expert in democracy, and he’s making an observation in that area.
But maybe he knew better than to weigh in on economics, since he’s no expert in that particular topic. He is not an economist. He is not a banker. He is not an industrialist.
This is where YOU come in, Wealthy Man.
You are the expert in economics. The more holdings you have, the more of an economic expert you are. That is just common sense. I’m going to say a few things about economics here, out of necessity – but be aware that I am the exact opposite of an expert.
Now here’s what I want to say to you about money, Wealthy Man.
In my humble opinion, the world desperately needs your help, when it comes to wealth and resources. Things aren’t good right now, as we all know. Things might be breaking down. Resentment, hatred, division, and conflict are trying to rise. That’s difficult, since people are evolving and global inter-connection makes us all aware of one another, on a scale never before seen. So, sowing hatred is harder than ever before. But it’s still being done.
Who is the person most excellently placed, Wealthy Man, to help figure out a better way? YOU are.
I had an interesting discussion with my son the other week. He told me that it’s “obvious” that new laws which will re-distribute wealth among the population is the “only way” to fix the discord and instability that inevitably stems from economic inequality. But, as I told him, he is thinking “binary”. He is thinking in “either/or” terms. Either you keep all your money, or else, somebody has to come along and order you to divest yourself, and then, they will decide how best to spend it.
But you are understandably leery of such a plan. How can the government know better than you how to spend your money? After all, as we have said here, it’s plainly obvious that you are the expert when it comes to money. Look at what you have. You were probably given resources, and look what you’ve turned it into! Look at what you have accomplished. You didn’t squander it. You didn’t lose it. You won. You are a winner. Nobody could ever quibble with that.
So, being a winner, you would be the best placed person to help figure out a new blueprint, for a new world. You, and people like you, are the best people to help us with how to fix this mess. I don’t know anything about economics. I find it bewildering. I have no suggestions. But I bet that YOU do.
In my ignorance, I do have a little bit of wisdom. So here’s what I would say. Maybe “redistribution” is the wrong way of thinking about it. Think “opportunity”. Think “jobs”. Think “usefulness”. Think “contribution”. I know that you already do that, otherwise you would not have the business success that you do.
But could you please take your attention off of yourself, and apply what you know about these things to the whole planet? Everybody wants to be useful. Everybody wants to contribute (unless they are broken). Everybody wants something to do. Everybody wants to earn what they get. This is human nature. Whoever said that this isn’t true, was wrong. That much I do know.
How can all of you wealthy people get busy with helping the world get back onto its feet after 2008? Could you maybe work together on it?
I guess the biggest barrier to all of this, is a lack of trust. People have been suffering for a very long time, and maybe they don’t trust you. Their ongoing resentment at their own lack of opportunity, at the lack of justice, means that you are going to face up to a different kind of wall, than the one that Mr. Annan had to keep looking at while he headed up the UN. Your wall, the one that you face, is made up of all the people who comprise the powder keg that keeps simmering, threatening to blow.
How will you build up some trust? How will you defuse this powder keg? How will you convince people that you are a good man, and you mean well? That’s up to you.
Because you’re the expert in being a good man. I see it in you. Personally, I trust you. I am placing my hopes in you, Wealthy Man. I don’t want our institutions to be destroyed. I don’t want widespread destruction. But we can’t have the status quo, either.
That is my challenge to you. And I am confident that you are up to the task. Don’t think “binary”. Think “wholistic”. Be creative. And please do not let us down.