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In order for the rich to develop a conscience, they should first realize that they didn't single-handedly acquired their wealth on their own; if someone becomes very wealthy, he couldn't have used his own hands and brain alone to get those millions; there would have been many others on whose effort, goodwill, support and cooperation sprung the success that brought him wealth. One would also expect that because of the recent bull runs in the stock markets, there would be even more instant millionaires created. However one must note that what one gains in a stock market, someone else has to lose; the money won here is lost by someone else there. Therefore, If the rich see that success depends on others, it will become easier to help others when they can afford it.|
But there is also the issue of helping others. There are different situations. If a poor family loses someone and cannot afford to pay for funeral services, the rich man who quietly empties his wallet at night to give the bereaving family has done a good deed. If there's a natural disaster and many people suffer, the rich man who cuts a big cheque to buy tents, medicine, food and equipment for the rescue operation has also done a good deed. These cases are those which come suddenly for which fast reprieve by a rapid infusion of cash or kind can go a long way to reduce suffering.
The other situation is more extended and social. It is when the poor need more openings to make their own living but don't have the chance or means. In this situation, what greendragon has written is true. The rich man is the one who takes risk, provides leadership and puts in his money to build businesses that will provide employment to the poor. In this situation, teaching someone how to fish by giving him a fishing rod is ten times better than giving him a basket of fish which will not increase his skill or dignity, but instead make him dependent on the giver for continued charity.
The rich man should be able to respond as appropriate to either situation; if something can be done immediately, do; if something should be done so that others less well-off can also start building their own destinies using the kindness of the rich, then that should be encouraged. In this second instance, it should mean this: pay a fair wage for a fair job done. In other words, don't cheat the workers. I would add, if it is possible, also help them better themselves with more skills, and loans. In other words, teach them how to fish better on their own, not just accept gifts.
I don't think anyone of us here is green-eyed about the rich and superrich; if one observes life's events carefully, there is a sense of poignant destiny about things. Sometimes, you just know you are not going to make it. So, if someone becomes rich after much difficulty and can help others in turn who are less fortunate, that is something to be admired and further encouraged so that more will also do the same; by the same token, those who are being helped should never take advantage but instead strive to better themselves so that they too can help others in turn.
As to conspicuous consumption of the rich, it's all a matter of priority; if one becomes very rich, then buying a big limousine will not require second thought; but as we all know, there is a hidden factor few seldom note; when the car is delivered, its market value drops by some thirty percent instantly. If the car is very expensive, that thirty percent is a lot of paper loss; and one therefore wonders wouldn't it be better for the superrich to buy a smaller car and give that amount to do some good somewhere, maybe even plough back into the business? Of course, people will say they are spending only once, and they deserve it, etc. We can live with that - but it does seem a bit ostentatious.