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In defense of wealth

In defense of wealth
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There has been a lot of conversation these days among America’s wealthy class about whether capitalism can — or even should — survive in an age of increasing wealth disparity. Some, such as billionaire hedge fund owner Ray Dalio, seem downright ambivalent about their wealth. Dalio, whose net worth stands at about $18.4 billion, believes that wealth disparities between rich and poor in this country eventually will foment a populist uprising that might bring about radical socialism. Dalio believes “that all good things taken to an extreme become self-destructive and that everything must evolve or die. This is now true for capitalism.”

The interesting thing, though, is that none of these individuals talking about disparity are giving up their wealth. They earned it, they enjoy it and they are using it to help others. The fact of the matter is, wealth is a great thing — and those who are blessed with it have an awesome opportunity to help others and shape the world in which they want to live.

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In defense of wealth, then, here are some of its notable benefits:

  • Wealth can provide independence of mind. It is great when one can make decisions about what things one spends time doing, free of concern over whether the bills will be paid or not. The freedom to make principled decisions enhances one’s moral character. At the end of the day, you aren’t truly free if you have to depend on others to support you financially.  

  • Wealth enables one to contribute to and help others. It secures a place among those in society who are extending a hand to others, even if they are not asking for a handout. It affords one a position of natural leadership and trust.

  • Wealth enables one to live more healthfully, with fewer of the debilitating stresses and anxieties that come with not knowing from where the next meal is coming.

In American society, some noteworthy celebrities — such as the Kardashians — are not always celebrated because of their social media antics. But they have been able to build a world-class brand and gain substantial wealth for themselves and their families. Even President TrumpDonald TrumpVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected Biden meets with DACA recipients on immigration reform Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers MORE, reviled as he is in some circles, has been widely admired for most of his career as someone who was able to create incredible wealth for himself and others.  

In my career, I’ve worked hard, saved for the future, and planted good seeds on fertile soil. Although I technically do not do any farming anymore, I grew up on a farm, the descendent of six generations of farmers, and I still consider myself to be a farmer. My business interests center primarily around media, public affairs and real estate, but at the core of what I am dong is farming — planting seeds, in the form of relationships, helping others, communicating a message of moral uplift, and trying to live my life accordingly.  One must tend those relationships and resources, and coax them to grow into opportunities — and those opportunities, in turn, can bear fruit in the form of profits and assets.

We can all “garden” this way, tending to our own lives but also supplying others with sustenance and the opportunity to gain wealth themselves. Our gardens are our responsibility but we do not truly own them; this is God’s creation and part of being successful is channeling some of the benefits that God has bestowed upon us to others.

It is our God-given right to be rich. In fact, failing to develop wealth in all of its forms — wealth of character, of money, of family, of talent and skills — is a sin against our creator. We are to be good stewards of God’s creation, and to thrive while doing so. We are meant to tend our gardens, to grow and make improvements, and to harvest the fruit of our labors.  

It has become somewhat fashionable to disparage wealthy people as being greedy, people who only look out for themselves. But the truth is, most wealthy people have created their wealth by making other people wealthy, or by solving a problem that makes life easier for many others. Apple founder Steve Jobs, for example, created products that have transformed the world in less than a generation. Google’s founders created a platform that enables hundreds of thousands of small business owners around the world to create, distribute and monetize their products and services with the click of a button.

In most cases, having wealth is a sign that you have helped others so much that they gladly reward you for the benefit they have received. We should be celebrating the fact that we live in a society where this is protected and even promoted.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”