Describe a specific situation in which the rich might not have a responsibility to help the poor. Discuss what you think determines whether or not the rich have a responsibility to help the poor.
It seems obvious that in most societies the rich should have a responsibility to help the poor. The rich most often have all of the material things they need – like one or more houses, cars, TVs, and furniture, not to mention abundant food, water and other staples. On the other hand, a community’s poor often struggle to afford and ascertain even the basic necessities like food, water or shelter. As such, western society has often impressed an ethical responsibility on the rich to donate some of their wealth to poorer segments of the population to help them improve their lives, give them opportunities for a better future, or lessen their struggles. The responsibility of the rich to help the poor is not a concrete law and is nothing forced, it stems from long-developed social expectations driven by feelings of empathy and a desire to improve a nation’s society. Helping a poor community can often have ripple effects that improve the entire society, like a reduced crime rate. Help or assistance could come in a number of forms but let’s limit the discussion to monetary donations either directly to underprivileged people or through intermediary organizations like charities that then dispense the money.
However, there are times when the rich should not feel a responsibility to help the poor. For instance, if a poor person is a drug addict or alcoholic, giving them money may not help them improve their lives but could instead have a detrimental effect. If a rich person was to offer them money, they would more than likely spend it on drugs or alcohol rather than on arguably more important things like food or housing. By allowing a drug addict to perpetuate their habit, they will be getting farther away from sobriety and a chance to turn their lives around. In this situation, it’s best the rich don’t give money to the drug addicted person until they are able to stabilize their condition and are able to use the money effectively and productively to improve their lives.
In general, the rich should only feel a responsibility to give money to the poor if the donation will effectively empower the poor to improve their circumstances. For example, if providing money to a single mother helps her afford a better house, food for her children, and the ability to retrain for a better job – the money is effectively being spent to assist the family. In this case, the rich should have a responsibility to give back some of their extra money in the form of donation to this family. For a wealthy person not to donate money they have in abundance to this family could been deemed selfish. On the other hand, a rich person should not feel responsible to donate money to a drug addict if the money will only be spent on life-threatening narcotics rather than more productive and capacity building resources. There is little incentive for the rich to give away some of their money if they know it will be wasted and have no constructive impact.