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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Toy Boats

Everybody wants money. Whether the medium of exchange is seashells or gold nuggets or bank notes, everybody wants some of it. Why? . . . because money is needed to pay for food, clothing, shelter, and so on. Then, of course, there are toys.

The song “Money”, first recorded by Barrett Strong in 1959, was a Beatles hit in 1963. The lyrics include the following:

The best things in life are free, but you can keep them for the birds and bees.

You're lovin' gives me a thrill, but you're lovin' don't pay my bills.

Money don't get everything it's true, what it don't get I can't use.

Now give me money, that's what I want. Oh, a lotta money, that's what I want.

John Lennon was the lead singer on the Beatles rendition. His noteworthy pursuit of wealth resulted in a net worth of $200 at the time of his death . . . which is over $600 million in today's dollars. To relativize that, if someone gave you one dollar per second, 24/7, it would take over 19 years to accumulate $600M. Put another way, that would mean you would be handed $86,400 per day, or $604,800 per week. Who needs that much? Answer: nobody.

Legitimate questions: How much is enough? When is too much too much? Where does one draw the line on money hoarding/spending, and on what basis? Where the line is drawn varies from ascetics like Mahatma Gandhi to today’s multi-billionaires.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports that for the first quarter of 2023 the top 10% of U.S. households by wealth had $6.8 million on average. As a group, they held 69% of total household wealth.

The bottom 50% of households by wealth had $48,000 on average. As a group, they held only 2.4% of total household wealth. Average annual income of the bottom 20% was less than $30K, with the lowest 10% barely reaching half of that.

Wealth disparity would be inconsequential if everyone had enough. Everyone doesn’t.

Picture a family (or individual) trying to acquire food, shelter, and clothing for, say, $20,000 per year. Can’t be done. Contrast that with someone last year paying $10.1 million for a jersey worn by basketball start Michael Jordan . . . ten million that was “disposable” income, money in no way needed to support the lavish lifestyle of the buyer. Maybe if the proud new owner took the jersey to homeless shelters and let malnourished children touch it, it would improve their life and they would find joy and meaning in that piece of cloth.

Then there is the Rising Sun, a 452-foot, luxury yacht owned by billionaire David Geffen. At a cost of $400M, it includes a gym, a basketball court, a wine cellar and a movie theater among the yacht's 82 rooms. Of course, a piddly 100-foot, million-dollar toy boat just wouldn’t do.

There is no textbook answer on where to draw the line, but some things, such as the two examples above, are so far over it as to be immoral. A country which values all of its citizens has a responsibility to enact tax laws which at least work toward a more equitable distribution of income so that everyone

has at least enough. The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1, states:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with

reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The case can be made that to spend millions on toy boats, multiple mansions, and sports paraphernalia when children on the other side of town are malnourished and without adequate healthcare is not a spirit of consideration of all. Tax structures that redistribute wealth and services enact a spirit of caring for all members of society, especially those in need who are unable to help themselves.

Two words describe those who have way more than enough, and yet want more and more: greedy and selfish.

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