generosity wealth

Giving it all away

This weekend Tim Cook announced that he would be giving away his fortune. As the head of Apple, that’s a lot to give away, but he’s not the first extremely wealthy individual to make that choice. A few years ago Warren Buffett declared that he planned to give away 99% of his wealth, and he invited others in his position to do likewise on a website called The Giving Pledge.

I wrote about The Giving Pledge when it launched, with Buffett’s letter the only entry at the time. There are now over 100, including some well known names – Ted Turner, George Lucas, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg.

I often hear cynical comments about this. “They can afford to do it” is one, or suggestions that if they’re really so generous they wouldn’t have amassed so much in the first place. Or perhaps it’s the declaring it that people object to – although the reason for doing so, as Buffett said, is to encourage philanthropy and the list of signatories reflects that.

I think rich people giving their fortunes away is to be celebrated. There’s nothing wrong with wealth, if it is honestly gained and used well. It’s wealth at the expense of others and wealth hoarded that’s the problem. If you consider your wealth to be a resource at the disposal of others, you can do an immense amount of good in the world.

There’s another reason why we should encourage philanthropy – if we believe in a more equal world, giving is just about the only form of global redistribution open to us. Projects like Oxfam’s ‘Even it Up‘ campaign do a fine job of highlighting inequality, but solutions tend to cluster around holding back executive pay or closing tax loopholes, and that doesn’t get us very far when it comes to billionaires. Tax is only raised at the national level, and besides the pittance that goes out in foreign aid, it is also spent nationally. Even if billionaires paid a higher level of tax and didn’t wriggle out of it, it wouldn’t magically reach the poorest in the world. The tax from America’s 422 billionaires is spent in America, and the tax from Pakistan’s 1 billionaire is presumably spent in Pakistan.

It is highly unlikely that we are going to devise an international wealth tax, despite the occasional call for it. It seems decades away to me. That means we don’t have any formal mechanism for redistributing wealth from rich individuals, unless it is voluntary. Since a goodly number of people do want to give their money away, shouldn’t we talk more about philanthropy?

It’s not a perfect mechanism, of course. As the development world has discovered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, major philanthropists can wield an unhealthy amount of power. There’s the risk that the agenda gets rewritten around the particular interests of big donors, rather than the evidence base. As we saw with the Gates’ ‘reinvent the toilet’ competition, or One Laptop Per Child, the Silicon Valley philanthropists are drawn to technological solutions. Sometimes targets are too narrow, aimed too exclusively on a specific and glamorous goal. For example, there has been a rush of money towards finding a cure for Ebola, and not enough spent on supporting medical services in the Ebola areas, or investing in long-term health provision for poor communities. Everyone wants to say they funded the miracle cure, rather than paying the wages of nurses. Then there’s the risk of dependency, or the danger that by championing philanthropy, we ignore the injustices of a system that makes the rich richer far faster than the poor get less poor.

These are all legitimate concerns, but sound to me like an argument for intelligent and accountable philanthropy, rather than scepticism. After all, what else do we suggest the Gates, Mr Buffett or Tim Cook do with it all?

60 comments

  1. It is good to give away what we have no further need for (better still, not to accumulate unearthly amounts in the first place (that ultimately come from our earth’s resources which ought to belong equally to everyone)), but being accountable for its use it not something many would concern themselves with. What else then can be done to try to oversee the best use of donations, large or small, than to put it in the hands of charities like Oxfam, for example? Donors need to be advised/helped in this way and we must look at this with them.

    1. Who is Oxfam accountable to? Their leadership seem to be a self perpetuating oligarchy.

      It is at the end of the day the donor’s money and we shouldn’t pretend we know better than they how to spend it.

      The rise of this modern philanthropy is providing new models of aid and providing welcome competition to the existing charities and aid organizations. This is why the free market economy they made their money in is so dynamic and successful at addressing the issues it tackles. Try many things, accept failures but reinforce success. Don’t just try the same old same old again as large parts of the aid community do.

      1. Like most charities, I think you’ll find Oxfam’s licence to operate ultimately comes from its supporters and donors. If they think the charity has lost its way, they’ll stop giving and support someone else.

        That and the Charity Commission, its board of trustees, etc.

        1. So they are responsible to those who given them the money. Just as the projects funded by the philanthropists are.

          1. DevonChap – Surely the issue is that there’s a lot of power in less people in the case of said philantropy. And again – where did you get the idea from that anyone thought Oxfam knows best?

          2. But as Jeremy says, what is the alternative? They don’t give. This way new approaches are tried. Isn’t that a good thing. As I said many have a greater focus on outcomes than regular charities. They are using their power, such as it is, to further benefit the poor, just as they benefited society with their entrepreneurship (98% of gain from entrepreneurs goes to consumers).

          3. DevonChap – I was not discussing whether they should give or not. I was merely referring to your response to Jeremy’s answer to you about Oxfam and such charities. You often seem to have a way of avoiding the issue raised.

          4. What power do these people have given that their money is in addition to existing aid. The only power they have is to make things happen that weren’t happening before. A most positive type of power. Nothing that was being done before is not being done now because of the money these philanthropists are giving.

            Can you out line what the exact problem is and why we should worry about it?

      2. Devon Chap, You have done this several times before (though I’m not counting). You jump in without taking proper account of what I say (& no doubt, what others say). Jeremy says we need to be accountable for the use of our donations and that we should talk more about ‘philanthropy’. I, therefore, ASKED what else can be done to try to oversee the best use of donations (other than charities and the like when many do not want to deal with this responsibility). And from Jeremy’s comments I found it appropriate to add that we all need to discuss this together (so that we do not make errors which cause other issues). So, nothing has been said, (and certainly no pretending we know better), that needs to be corrected by you. It would be much more useful if answers to the problem of irresponsible philanthropy could be discussed, or, if it could be shown that Jeremy is wrong as there is no such thing that he refers to. I, for one, would like to be shown the most reponsible way to use donations. Can you answer that in a format easy for all who do not wish to spend much time overseeing it themselves? That would be helpful, I’m sure.

        1. “Irresponsible philanthropy” Quite what that is I don’t know. That Jeremy thinks certain projects funded by philanthropists are ineffective is no reason not to try them. They might work, they might not. Being additional money no one has lost anything and if Jeremy is wrong we have something to work from. As Jeremy says the alternative is the money stays in the billionaire’s bank account.

          Lots of the new philanthropists are more concerned about measuring the impact of their donations than established charities have been. The idea that Oxfam knows best is nonsense.

          You could look to something like Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus to prioritize what should be done but then the how differs. I doubt any one body could be set up to oversee all charity work. Since it is voluntary giving mostly, people will want to fund what they care about. A dead hand of a panel ‘experts’ would stifle innovation in aid.

          Ultimately there isn’t one best way for charity spending. We can’t know the best of everything. A world where old ladies couldn’t leave their money to donkey sanctuaries because there is a famine in Timbuktu would be a dark one for freedom.

    2. Yes, better still not to make massive amounts in the first place. I do wonder what motivates people to keep going long after any increase ceases to make any difference – something Warren Buffett discusses very thoughtfully himself.

      Not sure that all wealth comes ultimately from the earth. If we’re talking real wealth, that’s true, but the paper wealth of billionaires does operate somewhat differently.

      Take Jeff Skoll, early CEO of Ebay, who’s a signatory to the Giving Pledge. He describes how he was living in a house-share with five people, seriously in debt, but with stock options that suggested he was a millionaire.

      1. Jeremy – Isn’t the paper wealth of billionaires ultimately used by ‘things’ which eat up the earth’s resources?

        1. 95%+ of wealth comes from human ingenuity. That isn’t owned by everyone.

          Billionaires and their things aren’t the cause of climate change or whatever resources scare you subscribe to.

          1. Oh DevonChap you really presume too much! Where did you get the idea that I subscribe to any resources scare? You now owe me at least several apologies, not for my sake, but for your own (but I’m not counting!).
            On the sensible topic of the source of wealth and ingenuity – I thank you very much for your reply but would further ask – isn’t ingenuity turned into ‘things’ which use the earth’s resources? (The earth’s resources which should be available to all, in its basic form, at least.)

          2. If by “eat up the world’s resources” you didn’t mean that some resources are becoming scarcer or more expensive or otherwise unusable then I apologise. Since that is what I mean by resource scares that aren’t true (with possible exception of fish stocks).

            We do use our ingenuity to turn the earth’s resources into things. We also use our ingenuity to turn those things into other things, we aren’t using up resources, we can use them again. Our ingenuity is also used for ordering how we do things. How much of the world’s material resources are used in insurance?

            Our natural state is poverty. Earth’s resources are only resources thanks to the inventiveness of many different people, otherwise they are just dirt. Our main resource is the human mind. An example could be a mobile phone made in 1990 used more material to make an item less useful than the smartphone I’m writing this on. The value comes from the human inventiveness.

            Billionaires do not use vastly more physical resources than you or me. Bill Gates maybe a million times richer than you but he doesn’t have a million more things. His wealth as recorded in dollars is only very tenuously linked to physical assets.

            The moral case for trying to end absolute poverty does not require that the very wealthy be disposed of most of their wealth. It is the wealth created by them and others in using the physical resources in New ways as well as how they run their organizations creates the wealth we can use to raise people from poverty. As I pointed out most of the value of their efforts is already in the wider society. That some philanthropists want to redistribute the value they did get to the poor should be celebrated not carped at.

          3. DevonChap – The proviso that comes with your apology is as ill-founded as your original comment, since, even if I did think that some resources are becoming scarcer or more expensive or otherwise unusable, it would not give you the right to accuse me of subscribing to any such resources scare. We all ‘eat’ things. I am merely sad to see such waste (even if there is plenty more), when the ‘eating up’ of the resources in order to make things we do not necessarily need grossly affects the lives of many to their detriment. Where that is going, I do not dare to imagine let alone subscribe to a ‘resources scare’. I am more likely to subscribe to the words in ‘Desiderata’, that, ‘No doubt, the world is unfolding as it should’. That does not stop me though from being sad about the current consequences on so many of us (if not all). Hence, I cannot accept an apology based on more nonsense.

            I also can’t accept that the earth’s resources would just be ‘dirt’ without ingenuity – water, plants, animals etc? I hope you won’t respond with comments like the one about us living in caves again, as, I am clearly not meaning that, and, there is apparently no need to continue anyway, since I do not know who is disagreeing with you any further – I do not know why you repeatedly state (& even remind us that you’ve said it before), that it is to be celebrated when the wealthy donate some of their wealth – who said it shouldn’t – certainly not me, nor Jeremy, I believe.

          4. What is a resource? It is something you can use. A cow is of no use to a human unless they have the ingenuity to make tools to capture and kill it, to cut it up and cook the meat; or domesticate it and work out how to milk it. Wheat is no use unless you work out how to grind its seeds and make bread or porridge.

            So these are only resources because of human ingenuity. All our current progress is from the ingenuity of individual humans across eons of time.

            I didn’t anywhere here suggest that you want us to live in caves. Perhaps since you so presumptuously demand apologies you should consider setting me an example and apologise for misrepresenting my opinions.

          5. DevonChap you’re in a hurry again – I didn’t say you had suggested that I want us to live in caves. I said ‘I hope you won’t respond with comments like the one about us living in caves again’. That does not suggest that you will, so you are again too quick for any good. It certainly appears that you keep trying to score points over others – if so, it may help your ego at the time, but serves no good purpose, even when people are wrong.

            So, I have not been presumptuous (note your efforts to put me in my place which you have evidently got it wrong yet again). Also, (wrongly) I do not demand apologies but after several have been called for and none arriving, I, eventually, gently point out that it is called for, not for my sake, but, for the offending party’s sake), and, I therefore see no need to set you an (another) example, and wonder, even if you would see it or respond appropriately since evidence has suggested otherwise. I am not here for competition and I wish you would drop it, if it is your reason for being in such a hurry to correct others (so often, wrongly so).

          6. DevonChap – On the resource issue. When I said plants, I was thinking of more than wheat (and I’m not sure that wheat needed human ingenuity to be used – other than the instinct to eat). When I said animals, I think there is more resource in animals than to use them for our food, and, perhaps, even for our physical benefit (muscle power), but, that is something which I will not enter at this time. And water, again an instinct.

          7. Given that humans are not evolved to eat grass that it became our staple is not obvious and clearly required great imagination and innovation. I think this is why innovators and wealth creators are under valued. We think all these advances were obvious when they were only in hindsight. It’s a complacent failure of imagination.

  2. Understood, blatantly naive and persisting. Picking a shout and cel-phone tower further relaying. Is it to accomodate the audience, the fact that you would not, ‘loosing’ your following?

    Super-rich, try all they can to have no personal wealth at all -technically- by shifting it to foundations, in which they have, and their trusties have, decisive control, Billy, Warren, Ted, even the smaller fry all do this …and miriad other hocus-pocus tricks. By looking at the numbers, well hidden, not in the public domain, of banks, balance-sheets this becomes obvious. They have a public face, and a private consistent history, of powermongering, try for yourself it is addictive.

    The pattern is obvious, a weekly dose of optimism for the crowds, regardless of data-sourcing, if any credibility is called for, you should start announcing your sources.

    1. I don’t count my readership, and have never looked into what topics people respond to or don’t respond to. I write about what I’m interested in.

      My sources? Actually my wife this time, who is a newsreader on our local BBC station and mentioned the Tim Cook story in her news bulletin.

      Of course the rich wield inordinate power. And yes, given US tax laws, many trusts and philanthropic initiatives are wheezes to dodge tax. But if we want a more equal world, what do we do about extremely rich people? Overthrow the government and then seize their assets, French Revolution style?

  3. That takes me back Jeremy

    ‘There is nothing wrong with individuals becoming wealthy. It is only when wealth begins to concentrate in the hands of a relative few at the expense of billions of others who are denied even a small share of finite wealth that trouble starts and physical, human suffering begins. It does not have to be this way. Massive greed and consequent massive human misery and suffering do not have to be accepted as a givens, unavoidable, intractable, irresolvable. Just changing the way business is done, if only by a few companies, can change the flow of wealth, ease and eliminate poverty, and leave us all with something better to worry about. Basic human needs such as food and shelter are fundamental human rights; there are more than enough resources available to go around–if we can just figure out how to share. It cannot be “Me first, mine first”; rather, “Me, too” is more the order of the day.’

    Henry Ford wasn’t my kind of businessman but he did point out that ‘/you can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do’

    1. ‘changing the way business is done’, as Ford says, seems to be key. With a different business model, we wouldn’t have the extreme disparities and wealth would be shared round better from the start.

  4. In my concept of Teaspoons of Change (personal choices, decisions and actions that have a positive impact on people and the planet) I look at a scale of help vs harm.

    As an individual we should know what our balance is. So when I see people giving their riches I want to know how much harm they created in making those riches. The grandmother who gives $20 a week of her pension but also didn’t create a huge harm is probably in net help more than the BP CEO who gives a million but creates a billion in exploitation of people and the planet…

    I agree with the fact something is better than nothing but I am not ready to fall at the feet of people who give riches until I know the scale of harm they have been responsible for. The culture of giving is very important.

    Great post, thank you.

    1. You’re right, and there’s a big difference between celebrating the generosity of rich people, and saying that this is a solution to the world’s problems in itself.

      In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be any multi-billionaires. There’s something wrong with a system that creates them. And I’d say, something odd about people wanting to be one – what’s the motivation for making more money once you’ve already got more than you can ever feasibly spend?

      But since we do have them, and until we have businesses that share better from the word go, what’s the best thing that those people can do with their extreme wealth? Give it away!

      Incidentally, that’s true regardless of how you made the money. If you made your money in arms sales or fossil fuels, all the more reason to give it all away. We have a neat example of that in the Gospels, in the story of Zaccheaus.

      Where we go wrong is in thinking that encouraging people to make millions and then give it away is somehow a substitute for making a fairer society, or somehow justifies the harm caused in making the money. That’s being seduced by the philanthropy narrative, and we need to be wise to that.

      Looking forward to hearing more about your project when you’re in the UK.

      1. Absolutely! I currently work in disease prevention through immunisation programs in South Sudan but my big attraction to this blog is your efforts in (monetary) wealth prevention.

        If we can aim to move the endemic culture and admiration of financial wealth creation to one of participation, service and community we can see some big shifts in the world – whether this will happen through advocacy I am not very confident (but will try endlessly) or in circumstance, as is the case in disasters, extreme poverty and environmental limitation I think we are set for a more just world…? If the rich are staring to give their money away I think it suggest there is a change in the air.

        As for the young effective altruism movers and shakers who I get to meet a lot, their world view is very different to mine when I was 18 living in white Australia suburbia! So I have hope and continued resolve to make wealth history 🙂

        1. To – Jeremy, lunny06 and DevonChap (or anyone interested):

          Jeremy doesn’t understand the motivation for making more money once you’ve already got more than you can ever feasibly spend.

          DevonChap says ‘Isn’t that a failure of your empathy and understanding, not with them’, but offers Jeremy no further help.

          lunny06 says she thinks that donations from the rich suggests there is a change in the air and she thinks we are set for a more just world, whether this comes from advocacy or disasters.

          In response to all three of you, I would like to provide this –

          For Jeremy’s question – I think that the motivation is due to fear about being vulnerable in this world, hence, for ones overall security. This includes having money to hopefully provide more power over others, in all its ways, (such as purchasing things, including prestige, and other things thought to be beneficial for ones security in life).

          For DevonChap’s limited offer of help – I understand a possible reason, but, even with that in mind, I do not see why you should not, at the time, offer the possible answer (as I have), if you think you have it and that it may help. If you can enlighten me on your reasons for not offering more help at the same time as your suggestion about Jeremy’s possible failure, I would be grateful.

          For lunny06 – I agree that there seems to be a change in the air. I have suggested this on this blog and elsewhere (if I remember rightly, DevonChap was a little critical of this thought). But, I wonder if advocacy and/or disasters will be the cause or catalyst, at least, it may be a temporary cause, but ultimately, I believe it has to come directly from an individual’s heart/soul/spirit, (whatever the best description of it may be).

          1. Philanthropy was big 150 years ago so not sure that means this is something new.

            As to the motivation of people to keep accumulating money once they have ‘enough’ I think there are several reasons. Broadly there are two reasons people work, one to earn money and those people will have sum in mind and stop when they reach it. That is not the mentality of an entrepreneur. They are in the second group who work to achieve goals.

            The billionaires are motivated and hard working. They find fulfilment in their work. The money is a sign of success rather than the goal. This isn’t to say they wouldn’t mind if that extra money were taken away since it is a sign of their success and status. No one likes not to have their efforts appreciated and generally they are exceptionally talented individuals. Salary is only a small part of their wealth. Most very rich own shares in their companies so the bigger the profits the more they make. Those profits come from the benefits those companies make for society. Tim Cook’s wealth increases not because he is trying to increase his wealth but because he is trying to make Apple more successful.

            Now those who can’t understand why the super rich keep working probably fit into the first category but we certainly should try to understand people before we judge them.

          2. Well DevonChap, this is what I think about your comments –

            I did not say that the current philanthropy of the rich is something new. I said I agree that there may be ‘a change in the air’ (as lunny06 said). Though I understand why you may have wrongly thought that I was in entire agreement with lunny06. There may indeed be nothing new in this ‘philanthropy’, but when we’ve had a similar conversation before, I believe I said something about the internet also being favourable to ‘a change in the air’ (along with, the other possible causes mentioned, such as, so many disasters), and that it remains to be seen. And, as I said, I believe it, ultimately, must come from the wisdom within us, though such things, as mentioned, may be good catalysts.

            I don’t think the people you speak of as being in the first group you mention necessarily work just for a sum in their mind – Some who can achieve a salary beyond what they think they need certainly may do so, but others (many I think), only work for what their employers and the market have deemed they are worth paying. This may not be due to lack of exceptional talent. That often lays dormant and may be due more to circumstances apparently beyond our control (like our position in society or our nurturing). So, those who have high position or good nurturing will get the signs of achievement for talent where others cannot.

            Secondly, there are many people who are motivated and hard working and find fulfilment in their work but do not get to become a billionaire. (Also, there are people who do not need to have their efforts appreciated by others – I expect you used the word ‘no-one’ as a generalisation but need to mention this just in case). I question, very much, whether society ‘benefits’ (at least, overall, if not directly), from many of the things that many wealthy people profit by.

            On your final comment (conclusion?), there are many thinking people who do not understand why the super rich keep on working (and taking further profit), who do not fit into your own idea of the first group. Jeremy is one of them, I believe. So, I also do not agree that ‘those who can’t understand why the super rich keep working probably fit into the first category’. And, lastly, why do you tell others we should try to understand people before we judge them – who do you think needs to be told this (other than, maybe yourself? – in which case, I would return with the fact that we should also look at the plank in our own eye before trying to take our the splinter of our fellow man). I am not being rude by saying this (in case you think so), I ask because you have yet again provoked me to genuinely ask for any of us to benefit from the truth and I can’t see what makes you tell us.

          3. I don’t think you have addressed why the very rich keep working. That others don’t achieve such success is irrelevant as to why those who do do. I am disappointed that you haven’t tried to make the effort to understand them.

            As to why I engage here I think it is important that rather than exist in separate echo chambers people of different views exchange opinions.

          4. To DevonChap and Jeremy

            Jeremy – On the suggestions you raise for motivations, (keeping score, success, a continued or new challenge, or love of your business), what are these worth if not done for some shared benefits of a greater than minority interest? All the worse if these motivations use the earth’s resources, unless, there is a perpetual supply, and, or, no-one is hurt in the process. The motivations you raise can be achieved without harm to the earth and our fellow man. We do not need to harm others or even to risk it. I believe that the production of huge wealth whilst others go without their basic needs is immoral, that this does occur, and we must start at the source of this if we are ever to improve upon it. Of course we can individually do want we can, but, we need to make laws from the top down to get to the source of this ability to do it on such a grand scale in the first place. (In the distant past, of course, it would have been those wielding their greater physical force at the expense of others who ought morally to have felt for those on the receiving end. Today, we can, at least, listen to those suffering at the hands of others and make laws to help to protect against it).

            DevonChap, On your comments (listed under as 1, 2a, 2b):
            1. DevonChap April 4, 2015 at 10:18 am
            # ‘Given that humans are not evolved to eat grass that it became our staple is not obvious and clearly required great imagination and innovation. We think all these advances were obvious when they were only in hindsight. It’s a complacent failure of imagination.’ –
            My reply: Our instincts alone can have brought us to these. And my comment was in response to your previous one and I believe you’ll find that whether it became a staple diet was not the question. And, beyond that, there are other fruits of the wild (as in vegetables, fruits and nuts). And, I don’t think that helping ourselves to the products of other animals (eggs, milk, hair, skin, (even the killing and eating them)) required ingenuity of any kind that what not already rewarded sufficiently in merely having the products to supply our needs. Then, hoarding and profit are not required except perhaps for a reasonably measured store, (even that is unacceptable if we find it to be at the cost of others).
            2. DevonChap April 4, 2015 at 6:03 pm
            # a) ‘I don’t think you have addressed why the very rich keep working. That others don’t achieve such success is irrelevant as to why those who do do. I am disappointed that you haven’t tried to make the effort to understand them.
            b) As to why I engage here I think it is important rather than exist in separate echo chambers people of different views exchange opinions.’

            My replies:
            To the points you raise that I’ve copied in a) above – My mention of why some do not achieve success was relevant to the reason I gave it – your judgement of the reason why those in your first group do not. On you thinking I’ve not made the effort to understand them and that I’ve not addressed why the very rich keep working- You are not in a position to judge this, you have known little of me for little time, but supported by the evidence of those who know much more of me, I have made most of my life into an effort to understand why people behave as they do. Therefore, I can, without your little experience of me, trust this will be enough for any reasonable person, whatever the result of my work may be. Furthermore, as the evidence shows if you take proper account of it, I am only too willing, pleading almost, to have my thoughts improved upon where possible by anyone at all, even regardless of their ability to be ill-mannered. As to me not addressing the issue – I have given my account of the issue to Jeremy in my earlier post addressed to the three of you (and any others interested), and furthermore, it is not merely my account of ‘them’, but of every single one of us. It merely refers to them because we are talking about them – their specific display of it. If that is not good enough for you then give your reasons why and I will do my best from there. But if, (as Jeremy once suggested, and I am becoming more convinced), that you are here merely to be argumentative, (let alone all the others issues, I’ve given evidence of, concerning your replies), then I ought not to engage with you any longer.

            To your point which I’ve copied in b) above: I agree entirely that it is important to exchange opinions. This is what most of us want. But that does not answer the reason I gave for my doubt in your motivation, (which was based on the evidence of your comments, and pointed out to you). Hence, your answer has been intentionally, or otherwise, evasive. Furthermore, it is good to exchange opinions if we listen and respond appropriately to one another. The evidence will show that I have almost always (if not always), given reason for my replies made directly on your initial comments, but you have not fulfilled your responsibility to do the same to me. Without this, there is little point to exchanging opinions as they become nonsense. I do not wish to continue this type of exchange with you, since, as the evidence shows, I have fulfilled this obligation but it is not acknowledged by you, and your criticisms are either ill-founded, come with no evidence, or, are based on the errors I’ve shown you.

          5. You are big on ought, not very strong on how. You assert you are a deep thinker but you have demonstrated very little evidence here (which is all I can go on). Indeed you never reference your arguments and seem to know little of economics or human history. Assertion of how you want the world to be is the sum total of your posts along with demands for apologies that I supposedly misrepresented your ill expressed opinion.

            At least now that you have stated you want strong laws imposed to force people to fit your views of the world have exposed you as the illiberal authoritarian I suspected lay beneath your self claimed niceness.

          6. Wrong on every account and with the evidence to prove. I’ll respond to each of your accusations:

            *To my knowledge I’ve never said I was a deep thinker or nice. That’s the prerogative of only those who know me well enough to judge.
            *You have not judged me on the evidence, you have shown that you do not go on the evidence – you respond as you like whether relevant or not, change words, exaggerate or imagine others.
            *Already admitted, to you and others in this blog, to having little specific details on economics. (You’ll find I’ve asked for help here and there). The same applies to history. Nothing I say needs specific details.
            * I speak for myself so there’s nothing to reference. It is my opinion and given as such as I do not profess to know more than I do.
            *Do not make assertions on how I want the world to be (but obviously would like to see less pain in it), – see my very recent comment on Desiderata.
            *The proof of your errors about what I’ve said has been provided and can be referenced.
            *I do not demand apologies.
            *Never said I want ‘strong’ laws, I only said that I would like laws to prevent abuse from the strong upon the weak.

            Wrong on everything, as I said. But you can call me names like an immature person or a bully, often will, it reveals nothing about me but much about you. True judgement comes from the evidence and you have proved (evidence has been given and can be checked), during our correspondence that you pay poor attention, if any, to the words, so your judgement will follow suit. And it clearly suits you to be antagonistic to just about anything which supports the concept behind ‘Make Wealth History’.

            I will not respond any more.

          7. Dear Devon Chap

            You have not replied so I’ll offer my farewell words (unless, of course, you wish to return at any time, when I will be pleased).

            I believe that we both want what is good in life (for ourselves and for others likewise). And, although, you were wrong to say I have been strong on ‘ought’ (at least, with regard to others), I am indeed strong on ought as far as my personal behaviour. I do not seek to ‘belittle’ others (or any other such thing); if they need to be ‘belittled’ they will bring this upon themselves as a result of their ego (which is part of fear, which is part of ignorance, which is part of not caring enough to wait to become informed). I am not responsible for another’s ego, this is their duty. The only ‘ought’ that I am strong on is the ‘ought’ that seeks to care enough about goodness.

            You do not know me well and yet you have presumed to do so. I have done my best to respond appropriately. Now that I have finalised my responses to you, I hope you will trust me further than you have cynically done before. I also hope that you will allow us to communicate further so that I may get to know you more than I presently do; all with the one motive, which, I believe we share, of doing what is good in life. All that I have said comes merely from my own opinion.

            Adieu dear Devon Chap; till we meet again to enjoy better things! With my very best wishes, Dichasium.

          8. Btw. In case you think I’m being rude by saying this, I didn’t go there first but I’m prepared to own it rather than pretend I’m not or that it for your own good.

          9. DevonChap, Thank-you for this latest response. I saw it after replying to your earlier one, and in view of its content, I am happy to respond. Firstly I must cover your issues then I’ll add my own – 1) I do not normally ‘go there first’ and am normally slow to respond to those who do, so I’ll be very surprised and sorry if you are correct. Furthermore, it’s not particularly relevant who did ‘go there first’ – remember how kids sometimes say ‘he started it mum’ and ‘Mum’ rightfully wants something better than who went there first – that’s what I mean. 2) I don’t pretend anything as far as I’m aware – it would be a foolish thing to do, so I am very wary of doing so. 3) We are clearly different as I am grateful if someone can correctly point out things to me that are in my interest to get right. Having now answered your latest opinions to the best of my ability, I would add this – When invited to engage in conversation, I try to answer truthfully to the best of my ability, to stick to the facts as known and without any intention to be offensive, as this is the last thing I would want. Unfortunately, this can lead to misunderstanding and I believe this has happened in our case. I am sorry about this, I wish you well, and I can remain, as ever, on good terms with you, whatever our differences may be and whatever you wish to believe about me. I hope you feel the same.

    2. What harm is made in making money? Consumers and wider society gain far more from the innovation and enterprise than the billionaires do.

      And as to the fact you can’t see why they make so much money. Isn’t that a failure of your empathy and understanding, not with them?

      I think it is interesting that those tell us there is more to life than money judge so many things on a pure numerical money basis.

      1. @Devonchap I’m happy you say you are open to new ideas and learning. Here is a good article that I totally agree with that looks at the moral ethics of financial wealth well above needs and their role in contributing to society – http://www.wsj.com/articles/peter-singer-on-the-ethics-of-philanthropy-1428083293

        Personally I prefer people who dedicate their lives to social good not financial wealth and I think it is rare to find someone who is dedicated to social good who is also very rich from the beginning. I appreciate those to come to that place after their riches are made but I truly love the ones who don’t create a huge untold wealth in the first place to then do social good.

        I understand your argument and thank you for that perspective. So this is my side and I’m not on here to be told faults in my argument or felt belittled, so I prefer to let us exchange our views only.

        Over and out. 🙂

        1. I find it sad when people merely wish to argue, or to voice an opinion, but do not wish to be challenged by others, because, as you say, it is always a happy day when people are open to new ideas and learning, but, I respect anyones right not to be challenged if that is their wish and I hope we will all grow stronger in the name of truth, as soon as possible, (we will need to face up to it though, so that our mistakes can be challenged). I speak, not for myself, but for truth, which is in the interest of us all, includng me, of course.

          1. Sorry, my reply of 10:00 was in response to lunny06’s earlier (5thApril 1:18pm) comment, but, it has appeared under one of DevonChap’s. (Still, unintentional errors can serve a very good purpose!)

  5. On motivation, Warren Buffett admits that increasing his wealth ceased to make any difference to the way he lived, and just became a way of keeping score. As DevonChap says, a measure of success rather than money to live. I get that. I imagine there’s a certain satisfaction to seeing if you’re still winning, if you’re moving up the rich list, making the right investment choices and so on.

    But I’d also have thought a new challenge would be more interesting – and indeed many billionaires go on to do other things, whether that’s philanthropy, pursuing new technologies, collecting art, or doing a Branson and setting up a space travel company. Your millions give you the freedom to fail, which I’d have thought would be a pretty exciting place to be.

    I guess if you really love your business, that might be a good reason to keep going.

    1. Jeremy, I have responded to you but posted it in my reply to DevonChap as some of it may be relevant to each of you and may otherwise be missed.

  6. Jeremy, I’m beginning to see a flaw in the ideal of making wealth history and thought i’d put it to you for your consideration:
    We cannot rightfully stop anyone from hoarding whatever comes their way. If people have any, or many fears, about their future security on this earth (or their family’s), and want to hoard anything in the hope of that future security (at least, to some degree), we have no right to stop that either.
    To make wealth history seems an ideal which may come to fruition only when fear has been eliminated from human lives.
    Hence, if we wish to help ourselves on this route, should we not work towards justice in all areas first? When we finally get there (taking it as being possible, which is, of course, too idealistic for many), we will finally have to face up to the fact that no one man should be cared for more than any other. In that situation any hoarding, if still felt necessary, would automatically go to the first in need and shared if there are more in need. There would be no prejudice.
    This is my thought and if/when you feel inclined to reply, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

    1. I’ll throw in a quick opinion. For me Make Wealth History is more about offering the perspective and cultural shift to see people not want extreme wealth in the first place. I don’t think it often points the moral finger at people directly telling them to not be rich or implementing this through policy.
      Again for me it is a clever mix of information and inspiration that makes me and hopefully others to want to shift the current mainstream way of thinking and being away from wanting to have extreme wealth.
      Sure we can aim for justice first but surely this is a vehicle for people to want to aim for justice and equality in the first place.

      1. Thanks much lunny06 and in response – I also don’t think Jeremy ever intends to point the finger, and rarely, if ever, does. Let me explain further about my proposal to Jeremy and your quick opinion – The reason i specifically said ‘first’ is exactly that. Because, for wealthy people, the title ‘Make Wealth History’ is very likely to appear as a personal threat. All the time we accidentally set up fear in others we will not progress at a very good pace, in fact, it holds us up. We will only got others on our side who attack one narrow aspect of fear and its children, selfishness and greed. We need to get to the foundation of the huge problem we have which arises in us all at times, if we are ever to proceed in a straight line.
        I cannot know if those listening will understand what i have said, but I try my best and, should anyone want me to attempt more, or, for that matter, challenge me, i welcome it with open arms, unless they behave too immaturely, but even then, a small step towards sanity, will make me return for more! This is not arrogance or lies, on my part, it is simply my truth and others may takeit ,leave it, or send me abuse.
        Hope that helps and clarifies. sorry for any spelling or grammatical errors – I do not know all the rules and I’m speedily answering you for good reason.
        Thank you again for your opinion – very valued.

        1. Good points and well taken. I know Jeremy looked at renaming the blog for the reasons you stated but stuck with it – I forget the post but you might be able to search for it for more clarification.

          My personal bent of trying to shift the world to want less is to attempt to empower people so they can empower themselves – either in the work I am doing currently in South Sudan for polio eradication or through my other life of Teaspoons of Change http://teaspoonsofchange.wordpress.com/

          It is always a tough line of being true to yourself and also making sure we don’t just preach to the converted…

          Good food for thought from you for me at least! Thanks, d’Arcy.

          1. lunny06, I’ve just come on to reply to Jeremy and seen yours, so -. I always remember Jeremy’s efforts over the title as i was here at the time and gave my thoughts. It is indeed tough to be true to yourself, to avoid preaching (and thereby stepp on others toes including your own). This is why I give my thoughts with all the humility I know, but that will not stop others from having their ego prodded and thereby misreading my intention and meaning, then replying as they will. All things in life work for The good, so, as long as we can take the ‘tough’ with the smooth, it’s fine! And if not, the effort will be recognise and responded to in love.

            BTW, sure you won’t need to hear it from me, but for the sake of myself and those who misinterpret, it (my earlier comment) did not come with an invitation to abuse, merely saying (earlier), that some will do so, and if they presume so to do, they will have to face the consequences at some time, if not, in mine.
            I’m really glad to see that you have understood some of me. Thank-you for that good reflection lunny06.

          2. lunny06 – Just noticed that you may not have been responding to me! I liked it anyway! I’m speeding a little – need to slow down! Must dash!!!

          3. lunny06/d’Arcy? – Just wanted to say thank-you for letting me know that I’ve helped with some food for thought for you, at least (I’m sure you’re not least!). And, your good work seems brilliant – the light is shining from it! Well done you! Very best wishes with your work – Dichasium/K

  7. There are all kinds of flaws with the idea of ‘make wealth history’ – both as a name and as a concept! I have a permanent link on the sidebar, near the top, for people who come to the website for the first time and panic at the title:
    https://makewealthhistory.org/about/about-the-title/

    Ultimately, I want to make our false definition of wealth history, the view that sees wealth as an endless abstract ‘more’. That’s a philosophy that will consume us.

    But ending our growth obsession is not an end in itself. Ultimately I’m after justice and human flourishing, and yes, fear is one of the things that holds us back. That’s why it’s important to talk about simple living, generosity, and the things that can inspire us to be more open with what we have, rather than pointing the finger at anyone.

    1. Could not agree more Jeremy and never thought any different of you or the blog. It is the partial aim of it which i have questioned for you (with no attack whatsoever). I have not moved my position after your reply as i already took all of that into account. It does not matter if we do not fully understand each other, it is important to keep the dialogue going but if I put my point and do not feel it is understood, I leave it alone, unless questioned further. With the highest regard for you, Dichasium.

    2. Hi Jeremy
      I just read your reply again and, sorry, I think I may have gone through it too quickly before (I have been trying to get many things done at once lately – juggling is a risky business!) Your sentence ‘But ending our growth obsession is not an end in itself’, actually acknowledges what I was suggesting, and you have explained further. I do understand what you are saying, I’m glad you acknowledge what I said. That just leaves the old question about the blog which you have.previous answered for everyone, but it still leaves me in doubt. Never mind though, that’s your perogative, of course. So, keep up the good work.

    3. Dear Jeremy
      I have now found that though there is an issue with your title, in that it will appear as a threat for those who live in fear that they (the wealthy), are under attack (which they are not, as it is about wealth not the wealthy; you have a bigger issue at hand and can help those in fear towards understanding it, which will ultimately benefit the whole world. So, my only wish now is this: you questioned why people hoard and seek wealth (in ways which actually are not the wealth we all need, which will ‘truly’ benefit us all). I attempted to help you on that question, in the only way I can, in the circumstances, with words. I hope you will soon know the reason why (in full), and I will add some more, to my earlier comments – that we need not fear it, or anything, because, (I’m sure you have heard), ALL things work for the good of God, which includes the things which, whilst, are not good in our current world, they are good for the ultimate reason and heaven on earth (and, no doubt, beyond). I know some will think this as ‘nutty’ talk (I can cope with that), but, I will just add, that caution may be the better part of valour, there is, more often than not, more to things than meet the eye. And I thank all you good people, including DevonChap and all in the world for trying to help me on my way. If anyone can correct me, I’d welcome it. With my very best wishes to all, Dichasium. That’s my part of truth. Anyone reading can take it or leave it, and will, no doubt, find out later.

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