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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 ( 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.

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    Dec 22 2012: No.

    I pledge to do the most good I can with all the wealth I generate, to the best of my ability.
  • Jan 8 2013: I'll pledge to give 100% of your money away. I have no problem with that. You see, that is why communism doesn't work. A Polish buddy of mine put it well. He said, "Why should I break my back and work hard when the person next to me is picking his nose and getting paid the same." In this case, people would pretty much give up working after they hit the median because what do they get after that?
    • Jan 8 2013: You are assuming everyone gets paid exactly what their contribution is worth, that is an absurd assumption. The free market is an amoral mechanism, not god's instrument of rewarding the good and punishing the wicked.
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        Jan 11 2013: I suggest market approaches etc are human constructs.
        Suggest absolutely free markets do work well.
        At the very least markets probably work better if participants are not free to lie and coerce.
        There is probably no perfect system, but the best practical approach is probably a mixed one that leverages our greed, but with some limits, and some sort of safety net and collective contribution to infrastructure etc.

        If we had lots of resources and information we could better Taylor support to individuals to desperate the freeloaders from those truly needy.

        I'm okay if a few freeloaders get a pass in order to support those truly needy. Just like I'm against the death penalty in part to protect the innocent being murdered by the state, not to protect those guilty.
  • Jan 8 2013: some of the comments here are very narrow minded. there's a big difference between saying "i'll pay more tax but it's OK if no-one else does" and "i think we should all pay more tax".
  • Jan 8 2013: sounds like the definition of a drop in the ocean to me, and it also enables the greedy to keep hanging onto their greed. say i make $100 over, that $100 i give to my neighbour who's getting minimum wage because his boss wants his company to be as profitable as possible; net result is i'm giving my money to some rich guy who feels no obligation to reward his hard-working employees with honest pay.

    i have a counter idea. most people are familiar with benjamin franklin, but i think not so many are familiar with his story. by his 40s he had become very rich from his printing business, and he realised he was getting enough income that he could live very comfortably without even working. he decided to retire and worked on his inventions, none of which he patented, so the people who had made him so rich (the general public) could also benefit and have their lives improved. all the rich are free to make this choice however only a handful feel any obligation to give back to the world that has given them so much and allow others to rise as well, so i suggest we tax all income over 100x the national average at 100%. perfect capitalism! you have an incentive to work hard and be rich, but you can't have so much that there's none left for other hard workers.
  • Jan 8 2013: You know folks... my income is quite significantly below the national median, in fact I am considered to be in 'poverty' for my country, and I still manage to give back, sometimes even monetarily, albeit in very small amounts. From a very human standpoint helping others is a rewarding activity - whether you do that by volunteering, donating to charity, or even by (from time to time) just quietly and cheerfully doing more than 'your share' in keeping a shared space clean. Why all the defensive aggression towards a simple idea one person has for an enriching activity for themselves and anyone so moved to join them?
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      Jan 8 2013: Good for you, Tracy, to be giving what you can in the ways you can.
  • Jan 1 2013: To the originator of this conversation (and why are you hiding behind a generic name?):
    Can you list for us your gross annual income the past 10 years, and then how much you gave away each year, and to whom?
    I like to see people actually 'put their money where their mouth is' - I respect those who do. As they say, "Talk is cheap".
    Unfortunately, people who have grandiose dreams often never look down to see the people in their lives who directly need help today and in small ways - and perhaps even in ways not requiring money.
    So I urge you to actually start giving away your money and make notes on your observations and feelings and experiences. And then let's see how much you gave, for how long, and how you felt.
  • Jan 1 2013: I think what you are proposing is great. Good luck with the project this year. I am interested to see how it makes you feel. I think for most people, as some of the comments reflect, giving is not really encouraged in this society. You see in the comments a lot of "Me" and "I" and this is typical in western cultures. We primarily believe that whatever we earn, we should keep. I hear people say often "Why should I work any harder if the government is going to take it all in taxes." If people have a problem even paying what is required, it is twice as hard to get them to freely give their money to someone else. I think what you are doing is a noble act, and I do hope you can find others to join you.
  • Jan 1 2013: LOL You may find a few, but their money will just be wasted on stupid projects or the military.
  • Dec 26 2012: No. I will be using my money that I earned for my own life.
    I will give to charity if and when I see fit.
    This all sounds like a lot of white guilt to me.
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    Dec 21 2012: I commend this president. At least, he cannot be accused of corruption. Is he a good president? That's a different question. Is this his plan to make everybody in the nation wealthier than himself? :-)

    Although I admire people like this, I would let everyone choose their own lifestyle and leave the question of how much they give away to their consciousness. Doing charity for PR is not considered a huge virtue, as far as I know.
  • Dec 18 2012: "Will you make a pledge to give away all the income you make over the national median in your country/state/or province?"

    If I know it will end up in the right places and other people were doing their part too, especially the rich (I'm not gonna be their sucker), then yes, I think I would, but then again that's easy to say now since I make less than the national median, maybe I'll become more selfish once I start making more money.
    • Dec 19 2012: Maybe you can commit to 5%? Thank you for your reply! If you are worried about accountability, and are thinking about giving to international charities as opposed to your neighborhood, charities that supply mosquito nets to prevent malaria usually have the highest amount of money going directly to the cause. I think most of my donated money for the first year will probably go to a UK based charity called WaterAid, but I have not decided yet. Thanks!
      • Dec 19 2012: I already donate, though it's more like 1-2% of my income, but as I said, I make less than the national median (a lot less for the time being). I will donate for as long as I live because I don't expect the world to have solved its major problems during my lifetime. What I'm worried about though is that the poverty problem is more and more becoming a distribution problem: somewhere along the line something is fundamentally wrong when the lower middle class is donating so the poor can have medicines while the rich are reaping huge profits off those medicines and paying the poor too little to be able to afford those medicines, that makes ordinary people, people like me, feel like suckers when they donate.
        • Dec 19 2012: I don't no what to say to the other part, but thanks for donating!
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    Jan 11 2013: I'll volunteer to send you a copy of Atlas Shrugged, the book. If you promise not to shred it up and line your hamster cage with it. :)
  • Jan 8 2013: ok
    • Jan 11 2013: Thank you Mr. Park. I will post another message in Korean on Monday if this is hard to read. Can I private message you on here? I would like to talk to you on the phone or through email. Also, we can meet in Seoul anytime that is good for you if that is ok. I can be there any Sunday . I hope we are friends for many years to come. please PM or email me at Kumsamnida
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    • Jan 11 2013: Thank you Kate, please email me at I can send you any verification information you like if you are sure you want to do this. Thank you for your time, I hope to stay in touch.
  • Jan 1 2013: NO !!!
    Reading the replies posted I noticed that most of them are negatives. If people don't like to give part of their income away, why is it that actualy the same idea got Mr.O a second term in the office ?????
    People voted for their income to be taken away and given away by others.
  • Dec 22 2012: Congratulations. If donating your income in this fashion is making you happy, that is a significant personal accomplishment. I hope you do find others who can share your interesting journey. I will not be one of them.

    I can understand why some people might consider your plan to be a challenge to their own beliefs and actions. Some believe that there are better ways to benefit the world. I do no know what is best, and hope that your project continues to bring you happiness.
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    Dec 22 2012: No. I'm already paying nearly fifty percent tax. And donate as I see fit.
  • Dec 22 2012: No. The amount of money I donate will depend on the purchasing power I require, independent of the national median, and how much I believe a charity or a needy deserve. It could be a few dollars, it could be 99% of my assets, but not based on a fixed cut-off point that is established by someone else.
  • Dec 20 2012: No, BECAUSE...

    The median is not an accurate reflection of the "average" when the distribution is skewed as it is (stat 101).

    If you were talking about the mean, that MIGHT be another story.

    The point being made, however, in this question is not about EQUALITY - we are all considered equal in the eyes of the law here in the U.S. but we are certainly not equal in aptitudes, achievement, positive personality traits, etc. (don't bother asking that whether that is a product of nature or nurture - that debate is long over as we realize that we can't separate the two). The point is about EQUITABILITY and JUSTICE, for both the present generation and for those to come.

    People say that the children are our future. No, they are not. WE are the future in how we shape our children's lives.

    A more appropriate question might be, I think, would you be willing to sacrifice energy and goods in order to promote more equitability among all of us around the globe?
    • Dec 20 2012: I think I made a mistake in posting the question in that I did not watch the video that I linked to. Maybe there is something in that link that deals with the philosophy of why the Uruguayan president does what he does.
      To respond to posts by various people, I do not care about equality, equitability, or justice. I don't believe in god. I don't want to give my money to a college girl who parties all the time. My personal belief (not that it matters or is something I want to discuss) is that communism is an evil system. If there are any other scenarios offered by posters that I forgot to address, I apologize. I care about my life. I am doing something that I know will make me happier, and am looking for a couple of pen pals so we can share stories and pictures over the years. The internet can be anonymous, so I thought this would be a good format. I thought people on a site like TED would be relatively well off, so maybe I could find a couple other people like me. Arguing what is good or bad was not the point of my post, I saw it more of a craigslist ad. If you sell something on Craigslist, you don't get 10 replies with people who don't want to buy the thing you're trying to get rid of, You either get zero emails if nobody buys, or you get one or two from people who are genuinely interested, have questions, or know someone who might be interested. Thanks for the reply, I see the flaws in the original question andI hope that I cleared them up for are any future posters
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      Dec 21 2012: Speaking of statistics, it is when the distribution is skewed, a median gives a better idea of the majority of the population than an average. I will let you look up the definitions. Just an example here. If we have 10 people with incomes

      10,000; 29,000; 30,000; 31,000; 35,000; 35,000; 37,000; 40,000; 41,000; 1,000,000

      The median is 35,000, whereas the average is 128,000.

      As you may see, the average is far more disconnected from reality than the median when there are "outliers" in the distribution (such as one individual making 1,000,000).
      • Dec 27 2012: Yes, you make my point. BTW, a "median", just like a "mode", is in fact an average - a summary statement.
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    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.
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        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.
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        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.
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        Dec 20 2012: since you have brought it up, what is your age?
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        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. ;)
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        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.
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      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").
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    Dec 19 2012: No
  • Dec 18 2012: No.

    I think a person's income should be reflective of many things including how long they work, how hard they work, how much they have risked in preparation for a job, the difficulty of the job, the need for the service, or the innovativeness of the product or service they offer. This concept sounds like something a socialist of communist country might promote.

    I think every person should work for as long and as hard as they can in our country. hey should absolutely work until they can pay their own expenses for the rest of their lives. If they choose to not work at some point, satisfied with the lifestyle, they should be free to do so. In the event someone cannot meet the basic needs of life, the government should offer enough assistance to make sure they can survive at a reasonable minimum lifestyle. Failure to do this creates a group of people that are desperate and forced into decisions that could have the potential to diminish the lifestyles of those with no such burden.
    • Dec 19 2012: I don't think it is good for many people to do as I have suggested. I am just looking for a couple people in the world. I don't think it is a good way for a whole country to live. Thank you for your reply!
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    Dec 18 2012: It has been argued before that if every able bodied person in the world gave just £1 (or its currency based equal) each month, we could fix every problem in the world within our lifetime. Atleast in theory.

    Surely there are more realistic ways to go about this issue.
    Especially since the median is just that. a median. it obligates the exemption of (typically) the majority (both those ON and below the median) (and the lower majority seems to be the ones who would be the most willing to give money, atleast as I can see).
    • Dec 19 2012: If somebody is on or below the median and they want to participate, they can pledge 10% of what they make. I am just looking for a couple people in the world to do this. Thanks for the reply!
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    Dec 18 2012: why the national median? why not the world? why not the region? why not the profession?
    • Dec 19 2012: The world median is too low to live off of in industrialized countries. I'm assuming most of the people on TED are fairly well off. Region is a good idea. Thanks.
      • Dec 19 2012: "The world median is too low to live off of in industrialized countries."

        Krisztian knows full well that your landlord and local grocery store won't lower prices for people who took the pledge so people in industrialized countries would starve if they only had the global median income. But your suggestion of sacrificing to help the poor sets off a tingling in his newly developing conscience, which scares the hell out of him (the village libertarian) so he tries to make fun of you.
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        Dec 19 2012: and a national median is too low for a brain surgeon, a successful entrepreneur, or a highly trained engineer.

        let me guess, your income is close to the national average.
        • Dec 19 2012: I'm sorry, I generally don't understand humor very well. A brain surgeon, successful entrepreneur, or highly trained engineer should not take this pledge then. It would not make sense to give away money if you are buried in loans or have some other obligation. Thanks for the reply Krisztian and John, sorry if I offended with a previous post.
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        Dec 19 2012: no humor here on my part.

        well, your system won't work too well if nobody participates over the median, will it? i advise to think about my question a little more deeply.
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    Dec 18 2012: It's a noble thought, but not a practical one in my opinion. How would one survive? The median income in the US is less than $30,000 for a family of 4...let's say the medium - higher income propose to do such, with the economy in a state where it is now, wouldn't they rely on the government to subsidize their living, wouldn't that defeat the purpose? I read an article a few years back about a man doing this and he depleted His life savings and relied on the charity of friends and family. I don't think it would be possible now to give that much, BUT I do think its possible to give more than what we are now. Maybe that would encourage more donations...just a thought.
    • Dec 19 2012: The Household Median Income in the United States is $50,000 as of 2011. As of 2005 the Individual Median Income in the United States for someone working full-time is $39,300. This pledge is not for everyone. Obviously, if someone has large debt or other obligations, the pledge is not for them. I'm just looking for a couple people in the world to do this. Thanks.