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Are the Wealthy Morally Obliged to Help the Poor?

The idea that a rich person is obliged to help the poor – not because it is a good thing, but because he is obliged – runs in public conscience as long as the society itself exists. For some mysterious reason people tend to believe that the rich are rich because they somehow robbed the poor. It may have been true – and only after a fashion – in the antiquity and the Middle Ages, when wealth has been considered as something static, that can be inherited or conquered, but not created and earned, when people whom we now call businessmen were considered to be maybe necessary, but still inferior members of the society, when production has been mainly based on slavery and serfdom. But why this idea is so popular now, when it is least true?

For one very simple reason. It is very convenient for the incapable, lazy and uncreative to believe that the wealth is the product of foul play, that the wealth belonging to someone else has been stolen from them. We live in the age when everyone is free to do anything to move forward and upward, when wealth is not conquered, but created, and every day we see people who successfully create it using nothing but their wits.

So why these people owe anything to the ones who are incapable of all this? Why the ability is supposed to be a handicap? Why the inability should be rewarded and ability – punished? Is there any logic at all in this idea?

There is nothing wrong about charity. But only in case it is done voluntarily and without a demand.

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