How Can Pursuing Wealth Help Others in the End?
I recently read a blog post by billionaire Mark Cuban, the crux of which is quoted below:
"Make a boatload of money. Pay your taxes. Lots of taxes. Hire people. Train people. Pay people. Spend money on rent, equipment, services. Pay more taxes.
When you make a shitload of money. Do something positive with it. If you are smart enough to make it, you will be smart enough to know where to put it to work."
It’s a take on economics and wealth that I’ve never really considered. Personally, my take on the accumulation of capital has always been that it’s better to spend your money on experiences rather than material things, and the material things you do buy should be of good quality and add value to your life. In short, money doesn’t make the world go round, but it does make Matty go round the world. In a sense, I’ve always shunned the pursuit of wealth for the sake of pursuing wealth, seeing it as shortsighted and selfish.
However, being proud to be rich isn’t the worst thing in the world, as long as you follow Cuban’s maxim to do something with your money. To pay your taxes, and have these taxes used to help people less fortunate than you; to spend your capital on things that will benefit other people, while still benefitting yourself. Paying rent, after all, is generating income for a landlord.
In a sense, Cuban backs the “teach a man to fish” take on life. Sure, you can use your hard-earned money to take care of yourself and your own, and be kind to those in need when it’s necessary. Yet if you are an industrious person, you can also use your hard-earned money to generate jobs for other people and allow them to earn a living. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs dictates that humans need certain things to survive: food, water, and shelter at the base of the pyramid, and self-actualization (the most complex of our desires) at the top of the pyramid. Only close friends and family can assist someone with self-actualization, but business associates, employers, and community members can sure assist with providing the basic facets necessary for a safe and stable life.
Economics is tricky business, but in the end we all benefit from the hard work of those around us, even if it’s indirect. If we all lived ascetic lifestyles and only worked for what we needed in this world, instead of what we wanted, then a sizable portion of the American economy would be underutilized.
I’m not advocating that we should all pursue hedonistic lifestyles focused purely on material gain, I’m simply saying that the specialization of our economy designed to provide for people’s wants and not just their needs has created millions of jobs around the country, and yes, around the world. Cuban hardly seems to advocate the callous trickle-down economics of the Reagan years, but it’s worth thinking that the more wealth and economic clout you can generate, the more you have to share with those around you.