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Does wealth bring social responsibility?

An article from Friday's Washington Post detailed the way a number of young people who have inherited -- or stand to inherit -- large sums of money are feeling a sense of guilt and social responsibility for their well-endowed status. Do you think they should feel that way? Do the young and wealthy have a responsibility to help the less fortunate in society?

By Cameron Smith  |  November 20, 2009; 3:16 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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How about yes, but it should be through their own volition rather than through government-coerced wealth redistribution?

Posted by: JoeSchmoe06 | November 20, 2009 5:42 PM

No more than the rest of us do. The vast majority of us do little if anything to help the less fortunate. If we all made contributions with our time and effort and money within our means, it would far overshadow the contributions of a few wealthy people.

Posted by: grobinette | November 20, 2009 11:06 PM

Have to agree with GROBINETTE. No. We each have to do our part, whether it monetarily or not. We should all spend some point volunteering...

Posted by: 20yrskinfan | November 21, 2009 12:35 AM

The disturbing thing about these results is the 25% that feel they have no obligation to help society. They forget that society helped them, either directly or indirectly.

Who built the roads and bridges over which their profit-generating products travel? Who defended and protected the country, and the fortunes earned? Who created the laws that secure that wealth?

I submit that those who think they are an exception, whether through their own success or through inheritance, ought to be sent to a desert island along with their money. Let's see how successful they are when they are truly on their own.

Posted by: cdm99 | November 23, 2009 10:55 AM

Studies have shown that people who have less than average income still give more of their income to help others. Maybe because they empathize more with the poor and the hungry.

The rich and the well off give less of a percentage of their income to help the poor. They may give more to support the opera or the orchestra or other "non-profit" organizations, but this is not really helping people in extreme need.

Socialism works in Scandinavian countries because people there are more or less homogenous compared to the U.S.A. They are related and if they go back far enough, they can trace their kinship to the people they help when they pay higher taxes. They don't begrudge a free college education or child care or other assistance to someone who is a distant cousin.

In the U.S.A., however, people couldn't possibly stand for being taxed more to help "those people" or "that group." Those shiftless bums, they are bred to be lazy and stupid. "They're not related to me, why should I help them?" In America, its viewed as much more of a zero-sum game: your gain is my loss and vice-versa.

Lucky that we embrace capitalism, or how else would we ever deal wth each other?

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | November 23, 2009 6:27 PM

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