By Danny Huizinga
It may sound shocking to say that I’m thankful for the “1 percent.” But I am. One of many wise things I learned from my parents is to always be thankful for the blessings you have, because you never know when they will be taken away.
It’s easy to succumb to the temptation of demonizing rich people simply because they have more money, better seats for the football game and nicer cars. We are all guilty of it at some point.
The media does it when they talk about Mitt Romney as a “vampire capitalist,” while claiming his millions in charitable donations were “ungenerous” because they mostly went to the Mormon church.
The Occupy movement does it when they implore us to “eat the rich.”
We do it when we scowl at friends with larger houses or new cars and say, “They don’t deserve that.”
Well, as we return from Thanksgiving break for a final week of classes, let’s try a different approach. Let’s give thanks to the people in our lives who have given us so much. Let’s thank God for the blessings we have without envying the blessings we think we deserve instead.
Have you ever bought something from Amazon? Watched a Disney movie? Shopped at Wal-Mart? Used a computer? Then you too have benefited from the innovations and accomplishments of some of the top 25 richest Americans.
Here at Baylor, we are in the process of building a new $250 million football stadium that would not be even close to possible without the extreme generosity of a few families of the “1 percent.”
Think about your the building you’re standing in. Most likely it has a name attached to it: Hankamer School of Business, Rogers Engineering and Computer Science Building, to name a few. The reason we can go to such a beautiful university is because the “1 percent” invested billions of dollars in universities across the country.
This isn’t some new phenomenon. Andrew Carnegie is most widely known for being a “robber baron,” a ruthless businessman who controlled the steel business in the late 19th century. A lesser-known fact is that Carnegie funded 2,507 libraries across the country.
This doesn’t mean rich people should be worshipped. God calls us to treat all people equally, regardless of their economic status. The point is, someone is not automatically “evil” or “spoiled” just because they are wealthy, for the same reason being poor does not mean someone must be considered “lazy.”
In fact, vilifying the rich can often have unintended consequences. A few months ago, the Economist reported on one such occasion in Italy. In an effort to restrain the excesses of the wealthy, Italians imposed a new tax on yachts, supposedly only affecting those who didn’t pay their “fair share.”
Unfortunately, with the new tax campaign, business at marinas, fuel stations and yacht-service companies dropped as well. Thousands of yacht owners moved their boats elsewhere. Restaurants and bars that drew many of their customers from boat tourism took a hit. The new tax policy, though well-meaning, hurt hard-working employees as these other businesses were forced to cut costs or go out of business.
As Thanksgiving is still fresh in our minds, let’s all remember to be thankful to God for the blessings we have been given. Even if some of them come from the “1 percent.”
Danny Huizinga is a sophomore Baylor Business Fellow from Chicago. He manages the political blog Consider Again. Read more at www.consideragain.com.