I had the dubious pleasure, this week, of having a bit of a discussion with some people who believe that people like WalMart's Walton family are nothing but parasites, sucking our society dry of... well, whatever. You know how the story goes: Somebody discovered that the rich people are rich. Really rich. As in, combined resources of the Sultan of Brunei rich. And, because those people got rich by means of inheritance, good managing skills, and a little luck, to boot, they're automatically suspect. Add to it, the original source of their wealth was a discount retail chain in which there is no union representation.
No union? Aha! They're oppressing the worker!
No consideration that the employees at entry level actually earn more than the federal minimum wage, have a comparatively rapid promotion track for those who are interested, and also have very good insurance benefits. No consideration that, in fact, unionization has been brought to a vote by the employees, and it was roundly rejected. Obviously, they were intimidated into voting against their own interests, or something.
The bosses are eeeeeevil, because they take, take, take, and give nothing back.
Except, the members of this family have been ranked among the top fifty philanthropic groups and individuals in this nation.
So, they employ thousands of people nationwide, they provide affordable goods and services to people nationwide – and even internationally – and they do all sorts of good deeds, from supporting education to helping the world keep its ecosystem in balance. But that's not enough. They need to "give back" to society... although I'm assuming, by the tone of the folks making the demands, the minimum this family should offer is everything they have, including their lives. I may be mistaken, but that's the feeling I got.
Now, I have to ask the people who think that people like the Waltons need to give until they can bleed no more, "How much have you given to your community, your society?" I don't expect you to toss twenty percent of your income to charity just because the Waltons do. After all, twenty percent is a lot. You probably need that for your cell phone, internet, satellite tv bill, or for the car you drive (even though you likely live in a place with reliable public transportation), or some such. I don't expect you to fork over cash. But you have other things you can give: time, talent, skills, energy. Have you put in, say, at least a day each week to helping out in your community? You know, the highways could use somebody to pick up trash. The parks could use somebody to repair foot bridges, to clean up after lazy dog-owners, to plant flowers or new trees in the spring, to shovel sidewalks. Your street might need some basic maintenance, and you can bring over a bag of kwik-crete or driveway patch, or whatever & fix it, instead of complaining that the city hasn't done anything on your street since the dark ages. You could volunteer to clean up graffiti on the side of the library, or you could donate a pile of new books to that library. You could tutor somebody in your field. You could fix up a barn, put on a show... everybody would come, and everybody would have his life enhanced.
You don't have to have a lot of money to donate to your community, your region, your nation. And, until you offer to give your share, you might want to reconsider how much bile you bring forth about the people whose gift happens to be mere cash.