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economics free market freedom

Making money

There are two ways to get more money. People can willingly give you money in exchange for a good or service you offer. That’s business, trade, etc. The other way you can get more money is if you take it from someone else. That is commonly called theft.

 

If you want to discuss the morality of making money, just look at how they get it. In my view, earning money through selling goods or services is morally neutral. Of course, there might be a moral component to those goods and services, but as far as the act of making money goes, I don’t see any moral component to it, good or bad. Contrast that with theft, which is always a bad thing.

What’s interesting is how people see the fabulously wealthy. Somehow, without even thinking about it, the moral indignation of theft creeps into the conversation even though the money was voluntarily given to those people. There is an assumption that hedge fund managers, Wal Mart, athletes, etc. have somehow done something wrong by making all that money. There’s probably an historical bias there. Over the centuries, when someone became very wealthy, it usually did involve stealing money from someone. Various barons, conquistadors, armies, kings, etc. have made a habit of it. Modern day thugs such as Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il, Hosni Mubarak, etc. use a similar approach. Contrast those guys with Warren Buffet, JK Rowling, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and the like. Notice anything? Right, the first set of guys (why is it always guys?) use the power of governments to extract wealth from their populations. They are thieves. They get rich at the expense of someone else. As they get richer, others get poorer. The second set of guys made their money by offering services or products and getting paid for them. Trick question, who became poorer so that Bill Gates could make all that money?

The answer is of course no one. Wealth creators get rich without making anyone poorer. Yes, people had to give some of their money to Bill, but they got something back for it, it was an exchange. As a matter of fact, people got much more out of Bill’s products than what it cost them to buy them. Through trade, both parties are made better off. That’s trade for you, and it’s the appeal offered by actual free trade and capitalism.

 

“But that billion dollars they made could pay for 20,000 teachers!” That’s a different issue. You don’t like what they do with their money. I’ll first point out that it is always easier to allocate other people’s money (see congress for a prime example). I’ll also point out that they are not you and do not share your priorities. The fact that they don’t share your priorities is probably why they made a billion dollars… When you worry and fret about what people do with the money they make, try to remember all of the people that they made better off through their activities. It is that which made them rich. People had to decide that what they were offering was worth more than their money. The billionaires have already done a lot for society simply by offering a demanded service or product and they got rich as a reward for it. No, they probably won’t pay for 20,000 teachers, but they will do something with that money. They will reward someone else for services and products and the cycle goes on and on. Earning money is a great thing for everyone.

 

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