TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Will you make a pledge to give away all the income you make over the national median in your country/state/or province?

I am not saying this is the right thing to do, so please no hate mail. But if anyone would like to make a pledge to give away all their salary above the national median in their country/state/ or province, feel free to do so here. You can give away the money to a worthy charity or a neighbor, it does not matter. This was inspired by the President of Uruguay, known jokingly as the poorest president in the world (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-20334136). He does this. I was hoping atleast ten people could pledge to do this, and we could stay in touch over the next couple years, sharing how it has changed our life. In years we make less than the national median, we can pledge to give 10 percent. Thanks for reading.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Dec 19 2012: I think this applies:

    Two girls went to college and one worked hard and got A's but little social life. The other partied all the time and was failing in all subjects. So under the socialist program that we all contribute ... the hard worker should give half of her grades to the loafer so both would have a C.

    Sounds like a political party platform ... let the wealthy pay for all of us. Worked well in Argintina.
    • Dec 19 2012: Then, if you pledge to do this, don't give your hard earned money to someone who parties all the time. You don't have to donate your money to people, it can be things, like building a well where there is no clean water, or cleft lip surgery for children or something, I don't know. I definitely don't think it is a good idea for most people to give away a large part of their income, I'm just looking for a couple of people in the whole world. I don't think this pledge is a good or positive thing for most people to do. Communism is a terrible system, I feel sorry for people who have to live in those countries. Capitalism is great. I'm not saying Uruguay is some kind of great country either, but it is a capitalist country. Thanks for your reply.
      • thumb
        Dec 19 2012: If you are looking for a few people, are there not religious orders to which the members, or members in a certain category, surrender all their earthly goods?
        • Dec 20 2012: Thank you for the suggestion. I would guess that there are.
    • Dec 19 2012: Robert Winner, do you actually believe capitalism is a meritocracy, how can you still be so naive at your age? The partygirl likely comes from money and has connections, the hard working girl will end up making her homework for her. The partygirl will scheme and sleep her way to the top while the hard working girl will always stay stuck in the 5 figure salary range.

      To say that people who are not rich do not work hard is a direct affront to the laborers, farmers, soldiers, doctors, nurses, scientists and engineers who make the world go around while the rich pretend like they make a positive difference (they literally can't even beat a chimp on the stock market).

      You don't get rich through hard work, you get rich through luck, connections, being more ruthless than other people and most of all through starting out with more money in the first place.
      • thumb
        Dec 20 2012: John, What does age have to do with being naive. Those wishing to subvert accept that all people are naive. They depend on the masses to take up the cause for them and teach them class warfare the easiest being to hate the rich ... later it will be the middle class etc ... They depend on those people to drink the koolade and pass it around and do their job for them.

        John in almost every post you look for the fight .... lighten up .... discussions do not have to be wars .... Just for conversation John from I know not where .. why do you hate the US so much. You never miss a chance to bash the US or Capitalism.

        John I wish you peace of mind .... Bob.
      • thumb
        Dec 20 2012: since you have brought it up, what is your age?
      • thumb
        Dec 20 2012: You are correct in saying that hard work alone is usually not sufficient to "get rich", but the rest of your statement is an over-generalization based on some flawed assumptions. It is entirely possible to earn a lot of money by working hard and smart, without stepping on anyone's toes or starting out with a financial advantage. I know a number of very successful people who are self-made, successful completely of their own accord, and marginalizing their success by attributing it to luck or ruthlessness is a direct affront to them.

        Obviously, there are wealthy individuals who your statement is applicable to, but generalizing, making presumptions, and disparaging the rich because they make an easy target is poor form .
        • Dec 21 2012: Why do you not scold Robert Winner for insulting a much larger group of people? Why pity the rich, it's not like they care about what you or I say about them either way, they can afford to not care about what the world thinks of them.

          "It is entirely possible to earn a lot of money by working hard and smart, without stepping on anyone's toes or starting out with a financial advantage."

          Yeah, that's called luck. Working hard and smart can make you do fine, live comfortably (if you live in the right country), but it won't make you rich.

          "I know a number of very successful people who are self-made"

          I know a lot of people who believe they are self made, but none that are. I myself am not self made either: my parents were poor by Western standards but when I was a teenager my monthly allowance that I didn't have to work for was more than the money made per month by those African women who work harder than you, I and all the people we know, ever will work. My qualifications for this, the same qualification for getting affordable health care and education? Being born in Western Europe.

          But it doesn't end there, even if you get rich in entertainment or by opening a business that sprawls out, you're mostly just lucky, you just went viral and as all things viral that depends more on luck than any marked qualitatively difference (Gangnam Style really wasn't THE best song of 2012). It's just chaos theory. In any case it's not very common to become rich this way. Most rich people either come from money and/or got rich in the financial sector or as a corporate executive, whose successes can be explained by stepping on other people and random chance (they just get lucky a lot when they're young, making it look like they are miracle workers).

          There's nothing wrong with being lucky, what's wrong is letting it get to your head, taking credit for it and using it to justify keeping other people down., yes, that's human but it hurts society a lot more when rich people do it.
        • Jan 8 2013: Well, it looks like John Smith likes the Garbage Can Model of innovation (Cohen) + Retrospective Rationality, and maybe a piece of the Actor-Network Theory of Innovation (Latour)..
          ..while most of the others are stuck with their preference to the Bounded Rationality for Innovation (Herbert Simon), with a bit of constructivism.. :)

          You know what? Entrepreneurship, just like innovation, can be described by all these models, each of one catches some of the characteristic of the whole, but misses something too. There's no answer more acceptable than the others (although nowadays nobody will sustain olympic rationality is true).

          I suggest you all to read about these things in some papers grabbed online, it's very interesting and it helps into understanding this subject. ;)
      • thumb
        Dec 27 2012: You are all saying the same thing but you all choose to accentuate one part over the other. The fact is there is no straight line to affluence but hard work increases your chances and guarantee an escape from poverty.

        Those who started poor all attribute it to hard work but they know better.
    • thumb
      Dec 21 2012: Robert, when the giving is VOLUNTARY, it's a different story. Do not confuse with mandatory entitlement programs.

      Your example is not new. Read the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. Who do you side with: the young son, the father, or the older brother?

      This is one of the most controversial stories in the NT. It has no correct answer. It's there to spin it in our head over and over to understand our attitude towards giving and the concept of grace. Most people I know sympathize with the older brother. I think, it takes a certain spiritual maturity to "get" this story.

      When it comes to morality of giving, I'm sometimes puzzled. On one hand, "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.", on the other hand, should I do that at the expense of my own retirement or my children's education? Is it a good idea to give to an addict to feed his addiction and harm himself? Is it a good idea to give to a perfectly healthy man with a sign at a highway ramp thus discouraging him from earning his own living? (same idea as "do not feed the bears").

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.