Quoting from an argument advanced by moral philosopher Peter Singer; he questions why anyone would donate money to build a new wing for a museum rather than spend it on preventing illnesses that can lead to blindness.
"The moral equivalent is, we're going to take 1 per cent of the people who visit this [museum] and blind them," he says. "Are they willing, because it has the new wing, to take that risk? Hmm, maybe this blinding thing is slightly barbaric."
Article: An exclusive interview with Bill Gates
November 1, 2013
Bill Gates more or less took the One Percenters' battle of guilt and responsibility to a different place, arguing that it's not enough to donate money, but that it must be donated to the right cause. By not giving to the right cause, those with means may actually be guilty for the outcomes of the lives of people they've never met, and whose circumstances the would-be donor never played a role in creating. The philosophy promoted by Pete Singer argues the following notion:
If we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable significance, we ought to do it; absolute poverty is bad; there is some poverty we can prevent without sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance; therefore we ought to prevent some absolute poverty.
Of course, this is the kind of guilt-driven idealism, which is pushing the political needle and influencing elections around the world. Unfortunately, the outcome is often that those without means are demanding that those with means to "share" through higher taxes. I think this creates a different moral dilemma; large governments that continue to waste money, that slow down the broader economic opportunities for the private sector, and never find the true sources, which arrest economic opportunities and cause poverty.
This brings us to a real life Petri dish of political morality, and the outcomes of decisions made years ago. Detroit, which was once a rich city, was known as the Paris of America; government has gotten larger, as citizens have voted out fiscal conservatives. The damage didn't occur overnight (for those looking for America to slide into the Atlantic tomorrow; it's not going to happen). But, the seeds of destruction via lavish promises, reckless government spending, and lesser demands being made on those that needed to pull themselves up have given us the bankrupt city that looks hopeless these days.
Another seed was planted even farther back; this one by the 1% of its day ... the industrialist, and the so-called robber barons.
Birth of a Nation ... Birth of an Art Museum
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