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Helen Zhao responds to the claim that it is unacceptable to retain personal wealth.

According to journalist A.Q. Smith, you’re probably living an immoral life.

In his recent article in Current Affairs , Smith outright kids nike air force ones black
the obscenely rich for their wealth, but the article is not only an attack against the millionaires and billionaires of the world—in arguing that keeping any amount of wealth is immoral, it is an assault against the lifestyle enjoyed by the majority of Western society.

Smith’s logic can be boiled down to the following excerpt: “Because every dollar you have is a dollar you’re not giving to somebody else, the decision to retain wealth is a decision to deprive others.”

What follows is a condemnation of the wealthy’s most outrageous spending habits. There is nothing scandalous about critiquing the rich; there are few among us who would find nothing incongruous about seeing in succession on one’s Facebook feed an article on the world’s most expensive pair of earrings ($57 million) and a buty nike roshe run damskie allegro cozumel vZU5JGxnQM
on the famine in Yemen.

This line of reasoning is not new. It has perhaps been examined most thoroughly by utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer, who offers the following thought experiment: suppose a child is drowning in a pool, and you are walking by on your way to class. Are you not morally obliged to step in and save the child? Most people agree that a moral obligation exists, and inaction is thus morally wrong. Singer then points to the “drowning children” of the world for example, the thousands across the world who die each day from malaria. The charity Nothing But Nets notes on their webpage that sending a bednet costs just ten dollars. Is donating a small sum to save a child from malaria not equivalent to pulling a drowning child out of a pool? If it is, then it follows that a refusal to donate said ten dollars is as morally reprehensible as walking past a drowning child without offering to help.

The natural conclusion to both Smith and Singer’s arguments is that all of us who live lives of comfort and frivolity are living immorally. Both protest this. Smith attempts to defend the assertion that moral duty becomes greater the more wealth you have, claiming the existence of some “maximum moral income” above which it is morally wrong to keep any money one may earn. First, there is the obvious fact that any such “maximum moral income” would be impossible in practice to determine. Should it be based upon what a person needs to survive? To flourish? To self-actualize? All of these are nebulous concepts with no universal dollar amounts attached. Second, this runs contrary to his most important line of reasoning: that it is wrong to use money for any purpose other than helping those who need it more. To illustrate this point, let us consider an amendment to Singer’s analogy.

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