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IMO, it is how an individual’s obligations and corresponding rights in a society are defined.

You can call it “collective responsibility’, ‘common interest’ even a ‘Robin Hood’ style of govt, etc, but at the end of the day IMHO it really comes down to how well you have been informed by ENLIGHTENED SELF-INTEREST to extended a helping hand to the less able, less well off and less fortunate in society. This is the challenge, the most difficult as one can be trapped in eternal, infernal and even heated or diametrically opposite debates as to where the fulcrum for this nuanced ‘balancing act’ should or might be placed for a given society or environment.

‘Man does not (and should not) live by bread alone’ someone would point out, while others might counter at the other extreme that ‘there is no free lunch’. OF COURSE, BOTH CAN BE RIGHT BUT AT THE SAME TIME, WRONG. It is a matter of perspective and to some extent how our ‘station’ in life influences our perspective all the time. Fortunately or unfortunately, perspective and perception can and do change over time, and one certainly hopes it would change in the direction of enlightened self-interest!

On ‘getting’ from the rich to ‘give’ to the poor: Do the rich in a society owe the poor a living? Or, more to the point can the rich do without the ‘poor’ and vice-versa?

BBC ‘Panorama’ featured Necker Island, an exclusive island resort in the Caribbean Islands for Billionaires which Richard Branson (Virgin Airline) created, owns and runs. Now the labour for the ‘heavy lifting’, housekeeping, supply and logistic support and other mundane but basic essential chores, relating to its running comes in the main from the ‘poor’ people in the neighbouring islands. They help to keep his resort island in shipshape, humming and in ‘good health’ so that it would attract and continue to attract his extremely high net worth clients and keep them coming and returning to his little island paradise. The symbiotic relationship is clear.

The Chinese idiom 饮 水 思 源, (yǐn shuǐ sī yuán), says that when you drink water, think of its source, don’t forget where your happiness comes from. It cuts both ways, up and down, right and left, for rich and for poor alike.

warren buffett

In conclusion, remember that even Warren Buffett has acknowledged his debt to the society he lives and thrives in that GIVES him the opportunities he needs to use his TALENT to amass his considerable wealth. He acknowledged that had he been ‘stuck’ in some African country/community, he would be nowhere even remotely near what he has been able to achieve in spite of his talent and abilities. Buffett has pledged to give away 90% of his wealth to charitable causes.

Finally, is there ever an apex without a base in a pyramid?

Be informed by enlightened self-interest.


What do you think?


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