An economist is someone who didn't have enough personality to become an accountant.

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Money is like manure. If you spread it around it does a lot of good. But if you pile it up in one place it stinks like hell. - Jr Murchison

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Aussies remain the worlds richest people

Aussies remain the worlds richest people – according to Credit Suisse 2013 Global Wealth Report.

The median wealth of Australians is $233,504 per person which is the highest per capita in the world. Median wealth is the mid point between richest and poorest. 50% of Aussies have more than $233,504 and 50% have less than that. This calculation includes the value of real estate that is owned outright without an outstanding mortgage.

The number of millionaires has also risen by 38,000 to 1.23 million people. This is great news for Australia isn’t it?  It certainly cements our position in the world as one of the wealthiest countries in the world but other things also occur as a consequence.

Rampant consumerism

What do people with endless amounts of money usually do? Do they help the sick and needy first or help themselves? Unfortunately I think history shows that most capitalists will help themselves first and flood their homes with consumer items, flash cars, the latest technology and anything to “keep up with the Joneses”. A tour of the suburbs will quickly show you where all the money is being spent. Why build a modest well designed modern energy efficient home when you can have loads of space in a huge “MacMansion”? Homes that are huge boxes are being built all over the outer suburbs of Melbourne and there is little infrastructure or public transport to accommodate the rising population. This of course has other consequences like the increased use of resources and fuel use as no family member can do anything without a car.

Government policy doesn’t help

Aussies remain the worlds richest peopleI heard on the radio yesterday that the European Union has agreed to 40% Greenhouse Gas reductions by  2030. The Australian government has reduced our Greenhouse Gas emission target to 5% by 2020. Whoopee a poultry 5%!! Industry will be happy but unfortunately for all those Aussie millionaires their children or grand children will have little fresh air to breath if we keep going down a similar path. I know this may sound like a whinge fest by me but I just get frustrated when a beautiful country like Australia doesn’t seem to care about anyone but itself. The Government’s attitude also seems like a reflection of Australian society caring more for itself than each other.

Why can’t we be rich and care for others?

Although Australians are now one of the richest nations in the world we are not know for being leaders in philanthropy. The situation is improving but imagine if every Australian millionaire agreed to put aside just a small percentage of their wealth to philanthropic causes. If every person agreed to put aside as little as 2% of their yearly income the impact would be enormous. We have apparently 2,059 ultra-high net worth individuals ($50 million plus) in Australia. If every one of these high net worth individuals agreed to contribute 2% of their wealth to philanthropic causes the sums would look like this – 2,059 x 2% of 50M = $2,059,000,000. Yes, that’s $2.059 Billion. If this money was put into a trust and managed to receive income on the original investment it would create an enormous amount of income that could be spent to help the less fortunate in Australia and overseas.

I’ve been there myself

I suppose you could say I’ve had a varied life but for a small potion of it I was similar to the people I have been criticising in this post. I went through a stage before the GFC of being a “yuppie” and wanting things that would impress people and show that I was having a “good life” but soon realised that that is not what life should be about. The friends you impress are not really friends and the things you buy are only things and really don’t have a lot of significance in life. Family, friends and your closest relationships are the things that should really matter. They need to be cherished and constantly worked on to remain strong loving bonds.

Money Can’t Buy You Love

The Beatles were right when they wrote this song. The simplest but most important things in life are free and I think sometimes people lose track of such a simple statement. You can have the latest boat or car but it is of little use without someone to share it with. Also, I think by sharing our wealth with other people whether they be local or from other nations, it would improve our  own dignity and “self worth”. To grow a fortune is difficult but giving a portion away should be easy. It’s just our minds stopping us and our position in a society that does not nurture compassion. Whenever there is a crisis such as a bushfire or natural disaster the community gets together to create a solution for people in need. Imagine if this was going on all the time in the background without us even knowing or remembering. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the 2% of wealth that I talked about earlier in this post. If everyone decided to give 1 or 2% of their wealth away to charity we would have a totally different compassionate society. I know many people will say “I worked hard for it, why should I give it away?”. My answer would be, “you can’t take it to your grave so do something useful with it.”

I hope this post triggered some thoughts in your mind about this topic. Philanthropy and compassion are not easy subjects to write about but I feel they are very important. If you have any thoughts please don’t hesitate to comment.

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