I follow the RSS feed for Dave Ramsay's Radio Show (blog). I don't listen to every post, only the ones that are interesting to me. Today, I saw one that was about the concept of wealth redistribution and decided to see what Dave had to say on this. He entitled the post, "This Isn't a Fixed Pie." I couldn't agree more. I had simply never heard it said that way before.
Now, before I begin to explain my position, allow me to start by saying, I am NOT one of the 11,000 families at the top. Within the past couple of years alone my husband has lost his job three times, our house has been up for foreclosure auction, and we've had to sell off some personal items just to be able to afford groceries. However, had someone come to me at any time during that and said, "Tell you what, we're going to go take some money from someone else and give it to you so you can pay your bills," I would have told them "No thanks!"
This is not an issue of pride. I have no problem accepting help freely given (and in fact, I did just that a couple of times). But I don't for one moment think it ought to be mandatory, and I think taking someone's money without their consent is still stealing, no matter if you do it yourself or if you elect leaders to do it for you.
So, do I think poor people should be poor and the wealthy should be wealthy and that's that? Not exactly. As Dave said in his talk show, the problem here is we're assuming this is a fixed pie. To put it another way, we've got a recipe in our hands for making pie, and we're fighting over how to divide a single pie once it's made. Why shouldn't we just MAKE MORE PIE?
To be clear, I'm not talking about printing more money. I won't even start to get into the idiocy of that concept.
What I'm talking about is teaching people how to make money. You don't have to take wealth from the rich to do this. People can make their own wealth without stealing it from others. Lots of people have done it.
Many of you may have seen Dani Johnson on ABC's Secret Millionaire a few weeks ago. (If you didn't, I highly recommend you catch an episode or two. Her episode is still available to view here.) Here's a woman who understands what I'm talking about. She was homeless. She started a business out of the trunk of her car. She is now a millionaire.
But the wealth doesn't stop there. Folks tend to forget when they're discussing this kind of thing, that those people who make all that money are doing good for more than just themselves. How many people do you figure someone like Dani Johnson or Dave Ramsey employ? Even more than that, these two millionaires in particular are in the business of teaching other people to do what they've done and get to where they are.
I should add a disclaimer here. I have never read any of Dani's books or watched any of her videos (other than the Secret Millionaire episode mentioned above), so I can't really say whether I would agree with her methods or not. On the other hand, I have read some of Dave's books and my husband and I took his FPU class and are working through his "baby steps" on the way to our own financial peace.
So, getting back to the issue at hand, what then should be done for the poor? I think the first basic thing is we need to teach people how to handle money. Is this a perfect method? Absolutely not. Is it a good one? I think so. The fact is that most people who have made a mess of their finances have done it because they either didn't know what they were doing or they didn't have the drive, discipline, or sense of personal responsibility to make the most of what they had. Handing these people money won't keep this from happening to them again. If anything, it will perpetuate the problem by teaching them that someone else will bail them out if they screw up.
If we can get as many as possible to be self-sufficient and take care of their own finances and build their own wealth, then the charity of those of us who enjoy helping others should be more than enough to help those special cases where more is needed.
That's how I see it anyway.