I’ve heard a lot of talk about how greedy individuals who earn lots of money are morally wrong to do so, while those who are self sacrificing for the good of others are shining examples of humanity. I’m told that if people cared less about money and more about helping others, we would all live in a better world.
I personally believe that any behavior that helps others is good, and in a free market I don’t see much distinction between those who help others selflessly and those who do it selfishly. As Walter Williams put it, “in a free society, income is earned through pleasing and serving your fellow man.”
In other words, your earned income is a good proxy for how much happiness and joy you bring to the world. For example, Lebron James is expected to earn $133 million this year. This is because millions of basketball fans have voted with their dollars that they want to see Lebron play. I could play basketball, but I wouldn’t earn anything close to what Lebron does because people would not enjoy watching me play as much as they enjoy watching Lebron play.
Taking this philosophical concept a step further, we can separate rich people who enjoy their jobs from those who hate their jobs. Some would say that latter group has been led into a rat-race of chasing money. While I agree that these individuals may be unhappy, a simple look at their paystubs will reveal that they are bringing a lot of happiness to a lot of other people in the world. I would even go so far as to say the next time you see a rich person who hates going to work, thank him for taking the time to sacrifice his personal happiness so that joy could be brought to others.
In conclusion, all behaviors that result in happiness brought to others are morally good, regardless of the motivations behind the behaviors. If you help others through charity or if you help others by climbing the corporate ladder, you are still making the world a better place.Published in