The Plague-Ground – Are you rich?

I’ve always wanted to write a fund-raising appeal that starts with that question. You have money. We need money. Give it to us.

Please.

What this lacks in subtlety it makes up in reality: rich people have more of the very thing you need than unrich people do. So if you can focus on them, chances are……well, actually, that’s not true.  Countless studies point to rich people being less charitable than middle-class or lower-middle-class people.

But that may be changing, not by revolution in the streets, but by revolution from within.

I stumbled across a Canadian non-profit called Resource Movement. It’s “a community of young people with wealth and/or class privilege working toward the redistribution of wealth, land, and power.”

So far, 200 of these young rich Canadians have self-organized, not to flagellate themselves about their state, but to use it to make the effects of income inequality a bit less dire. Their site has a handy tool provided by StatsCanada, no less, to calculate your Income Percentile. If you think you’re moderately well-off, you’re in for a big surprise. You’re extraordinarily well off. Make $100,000 a year and you’re in the 96th percentile of Canadians. You are one of the 4 per cent.

The rich kids I knew growing up were either entitled beyond belief that they’d won the genetic lottery, or hid their good luck like a shameful illness.

But these kids are different.

You can see it more clearly with their colleagues, American Generation, which spawned the Canadian branch plant two years ago.  Everything about them is pushier, more in-your-face. More American I guess. “Got class privilege and want social justice?”

They even have a Class Privilege Quiz which includes such points as “You own clothing from Arc’teryx” “You can afford to go to a therapist,” and “You’re preparing for the apocalypse.” I encourage you to take it if only because it might embarrass you as much as it did me.

The shift from living a life of success to one of consequence was in the ether long before the pandemic hit. After it leaves, I think conspicuous consumption will be as acceptable as conspicuous workaholism. Those who have done well will rush not just to be seen to do good, but to actually do good, better.

It’s not quite the Czar’s children rising up against their father at home in the Winter Palace in 1917. But rich kids taking to the barricades  — as an organized group — to rebel against the values that their families led in driving the world to the parlous place it is today…….well, that is a revolution of a different order.

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10 replies
  1. Avatar
    Lorraine M says:

    Thanks Bob. This is very brain busting and heart opening, fodder for thought. Makes you rethink entitlement and generosity. I like your focus on expanded thinking from a material wealth perspective. I can’t help think of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet and how they are doing what they do on a global level. We need more like them.

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Helenhuget says:

    Thank you for this information that was a surprising shock to me. Higher taxes for the rich is not popular but would help society change some situations.

    Reply
    • Bob Ramsay
      Bob Ramsay says:

      Helen — One of my friends wears a button that says: “Tax me.” More of us should wear that.
      Cheers.
      Bob

      Reply
  3. Avatar
    Jamie Laidlaw says:

    Hey, Bob back when I lived on the left coast from time to time I attended A Territory Resource out of Seattle. These were the inheritors who were not cut out to be lawyers, doctors and dentists and they funded stuff no one else would have done. To locate the time think of Ronald Reagan and Ross Perot. I am sure I was the only Canadian so let’s say that tolerance diversity was put to good use. People speak too much in my view about inheritors and their privilege which is easy to spot and sometimes quantify. But that is a pretty lumpy description of this subtype. Some are brilliant professionals. Some are outstandingly committed to dire social justice causes. Some are young and looking to learn. Some were hurt and needed shelter from the demands of the American storm. All were smart. complex and sensitive people try to find a way in a society that in many aspects was cruel and exploitative.

    Canadians being and here I am being lumpy generally more moderate are they likely to be as way out there as their American cousins? Already in this smaller country where the Winnipeg Foundation has grown mightily since I first knew it 30 years ago to a foundation that is involved in nearly everything. That does not mean there are not more to do or areas that are overlooked, poorly resourced or being managed inadequately. There are. And speaking from 45 years of conversations there always will be.

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Madeline Thompson says:

    Thanks for the post on that Bob – it’s a brilliant idea and hopefully these
    young people can actually achieve something with that concept. No
    reason why it can’t work. It brings everyone into play, not just the rich
    kids – or at least, that is my assumption of how it would work, the
    wealthy kids need to learn what a more equitable spread of income
    really means, and much information on how to make that happen.

    Reply
    • Bob Ramsay
      Bob Ramsay says:

      Madeline — I agree. The idea of rich kids self-organising AS RICH KIDS to help the poor is very different and long overdue.
      Bob

      Reply
  5. Avatar
    Dave Butler says:

    Thanks for that, Bob. Truly thought- and action-provoking. While we should all take a leadership role in this, it’s so good to see the “rich kids” trying to make a real difference. That’s where the change will come from … I hope.

    Reply
  6. Avatar
    Louise says:

    I remember taking my grown daughter to an info meeting with a certain wealth management company. It was about philanthropy and teaching your children how to engage and to understand the gift of giving. The event focused on the idea that cutting a cheque made you thoughtful and good. A few participants talked about their personal generously. My daughter said very little however upon leaving she said: that was not helpful. The upcoming generation should be encouraged to get out there and participate in places or with causes that need support where then they could decide What needs to be done. Writing a cheque just doesn’t cut it.

    Reply

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