Personal Finance Essay #4:

The Morality of Work and Wealth

Many people in today’s society have raised the objection that it is somehow wrong to have more wealth than anyone else around you. They say that the only way that people get rich is by taking away some sort of resource from somebody else. They claim that businesses “exploit the poor” and that they should “give back to society that which they have taken.” But what is the nature of transactions that two or more parties undergo? Is it one where one takes things from another, or a trade? If it was the first, then nothing would quite be right in this world. There would be chaos. It must be the second.

Let’s have an example. If someone has a set of builder’s tools, but has no experience using them and no need to, then what use are they to him? And let’s say another person has a leaky pipe and has experience fixing things, but no equipment. She wants those tools. Now the first person has a health problem and needs a walker. But his is in bad condition and will wear out soon. The second has a spare, since her son had to use one for a while. He wants that walker. Now suppose these people are coworkers and know each other a little, and they both tell each other their problems. They both have the solution to each other’s problems, and value the other person’s item more than their own. So they make a trade.

Now in this example, did either walk away worse off than before? No. It is a trade that benefits both parties. This is what happens on a day to day basis. Two or more people each have items that they do not value as much as the other person’s(‘), and they all go away better than before. So those people who object to this are making their arguments on a faulty premise and should not be listened to in this matter.


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