Wealth is Not The Problem, Greed is The Problem


(cross posted on the Interdependence Project blog –
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Since the decline of Occupy Wall Street as a major social and media phenomenon, the notion of wealth inequality has sort of dropped off my personal political and moral radar.  Then a friend sent me this video below the other day. It’s a tutorial on wealth inequality in America. It’s pretty amazing to have things demonstrated  visually for me. It really reopened my eyes.

One of the problems with discussing wealth and greed as moral issues is that it is very hard to see statistical information about wealth and understand what it means. Wealth inequality is something that needs to be visually or emotionally demonstrated for people to get the scale of just how warped the world we live in actually is. For example, it is easy to ignore the fact that a billionaire is equal to one thousand millionaires. One thousand times as much. That’s a lot of cheddar, folks. It’s hard to wrap your head around, for sure.

The thing I found most dharmic about this presentation is highlighting the difference between perceived reality and actual reality.

Personally speaking, I love the free enterprise of capitalism and the idea of individual responsibility for our actions. We do need the ability to reap the rewards of hard work, entrepreneurship, and intelligence. But the ethical validity of such a system is grounded in it being an equal playing field available to all, which increases the wealth of everyone involved through competition, and does not harm people or the planet in the process. This is simply no longer true in our system, if it ever was. If we are going to keep going with this system, we need a system less encouraging of mindless greed, and FAR more encouraging of sustainability.
It is a basic Buddhist principle that wealth only comes into its full brilliance in the sharing of it, in offering it, in its spread and release. The beauty of wealth never comes from greed or hoarding. The beauty of wealth is especially emphasized in the Shambhala tradition, as an enriching presence which benefits all.

As the Buddha said, “If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.”

Simply put, wealth is never a problem. Simply put, greed is always a problem. Let me know what you think of the video.


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