Earned wealth definition a matter of perspective

Columnist skews ideas of social and climate justice

Re: Harper rapped for wrong reasons (B.C. Views, Jan. 15)

When Tom Fletcher again slams “anarchist kooks” protesting for climate justice or social justice, the column is pretty much as expected and doesn’t warrant comment. But Mr. Fletcher takes matters a step further when climate or social justice are seen to require “confiscation of earned wealth.”

We should pause to think about the idea of earned wealth. Is it the stuff that’s left over on a pay stub after the “confiscators” remove taxes and other deductions? Is it my earnings when stocks triple in value? Maybe it’s my earnings if I hit the lotto jackpot? What does it mean to earn?

Many of us live pretty well, even with modest incomes. That reflects, in part, the social wealth previous generations have built up. It enables me to “earn” a comfortable life.  If I deny the “confiscators” a share of that wealth to help deal with climate, am I robbing future generations of their right to share in the wealth that was provided (not earned) for me?

We have the idea of earned wealth when really we share in wealth created by generations before us. In this light, justice for generations to follow is not confiscation.

Likewise with social justice. Others who may work just as hard as me and be just as smart as me can receive very much less earned wealth for their efforts. How was it decided I should earn more? It can be called the invisible hand of markets, but really it’s just a rigged system where bastions of great wealth control politics. Recognizing that some of our “earned” wealth should be directed to social justice is not “confiscation.”

All of us, the very wealthy and not-so-wealthy, would be better off if we learned to speak of fair wealth instead of earned wealth.

Greg Holloway


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