There has been a lot of chatter lately about how the rich can use their resources to solve all the world’s problems, specifically things like world hunger.
However, can the rich really solve these problems?
Sure they have billions of dollars, far more than I have ever seen as I sit here with hundreds in my bank account, trying to pay my bills and take care of my family like everyone else.
It is so easy to wish that some random billionaire would donate billions to stop world hunger, or randomly deposit money in my account. My sister said the other day that all her money troubles would be solved if we just “ate the rich.”
But would they really?
“If a person is poor and thinks rich people are bad, they will never be rich. To envy the rich is to cause yourself to never achieve riches.
Poor people often despise rich people and blame rich people, and this is one of many reasons why they remain poor all their life.” ― Hendrith Vanlon Smith Jr, The Wealth Reference Guide: An American Classic
How much would it cost to solve world hunger?
Let’s first do some math, just how much would it cost to solve the world’s hunger problems? According to Global Giving, the cost of this problem ranges from $7 billion to $265 billion a year.
The reason they claim the range is so big is that the experts disagree on the solutions to end the problem.
Before understanding how to end something, we must understand what causes it. Global Giving lists several causes for world hunger, such as:
- Bad weather
- Disease outbreaks
- Falling prices for crops
- Rising prices for food
- Low wages or unemployment
The site states that “more than 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food. An additional 83 to 132 million people are at risk of being undernourished in 2020 due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”
“We are a country that prides itself on power and wealth, yet there are millions of children who go hungry every day. It is our responsibility, not only as a nation, but also as individuals, to get involved.
So, next time you pass someone on the street who is in need, remember how lucky you are, and don’t turn away.” – Lesley Boone, actress, and social activist
Can people like Elon Musk solve the problem single-handedly?
Elon Musk’s net worth is $290 billion, however, that is not all liquid assets. He would have to sell things like houses, rockets, cars, and whatever other rich people things he owns to come up with all that cash.
But who can afford to buy Elon Musk’s toys? Certainly, not me!
And if we expect all the rich people to give away all their money to the world, they won’t have money to buy these things either, making them essentially useless.
Even if Elon Musk came up with $265 billion to solve hunger this year, what would happen next year? Or the year after that?
Elon would be broke and the world would eventually go hungry again thanks to some of the reasons listed, which we have no (or little control over) like weather, pests, and disease outbreaks.
And with Elon (and his friends) not having money to buy things, the blue-collar workers who build, manufacture, or help create things would be out of work. Won’t they then go hungry too?
“It is important for people to realize that we can make progress against world hunger, that world hunger is not hopeless. The worst enemy is apathy.” – Reverend David Beckmann, president of Alliance to End Hunger
Many wealthy people are already rather philanthropic
There seems to be this idea that rich people are just hoarding their money, swimming in pools of gold coins, like Scrooge McDuck. However, they spend a ton of money.
Even if it is hiring someone to build a pool big enough to fill with moola. They have jets they hire pilots for, and people who do the maintenance on them.
They eat at fancy restaurants that hire chefs, waitstaff, and dishwashers.
Besides spending their money, many of the wealthiest people in this country actually give away more money than I will likely ever have in this lifetime.
According to an article by The Los Angeles Times, Elon Musk had donated $150 million dollars to charity before April of 2021. Another article by Forbes claims that Jeff Bezos’ charitable donations total over $13 billion.
His ex-wife is giving away her money even faster.
Then there Bill and Miranda Gates who have also been donating bucket loads to various charities. Some may argue that the amount of money they give away is like pennies to them, and while that math doesn’t lie, they give more money (percentage-wise) away than most people I know.
And while it may not be “much” to them, the millions and billions should be a substantial amount to the charities they go to. So that leads me to wonder if throwing money at the problems is not the best solution we can come up with.
“Neither every rich person is noble nor miser. Neither every poor person is humble nor wicked.” ― Salsabeel
Ask not what the rich can do for you, but what you can do for yourself (and others)
Full disclosure; I am a fairly liberal human being. I believe in crazy, wild ideas like everyone should have access to free health care and education.
In my opinion, people should also be paid a living wage, that enables them to chase the American dream without having to work two or three jobs and never see the light of day.
The rich should also pay more taxes than you and I do. Now, that we have gotten the truth out of the way, I feel the need to say, that I do not think anyone should expect Bezos, Musk, and the like to solve these problems with all their money.
There isn’t enough money in the world to solve all the global problems we are facing. I think that the answer is actually much simpler.
If we all started asking what we could do to help ourselves, help others, and try to solve the problems immediately around us, the world would be a better place.
One of the things that cause world hunger is weather issues. Climate change causes weather issues.
How can we help battle climate change? Consume less, recycle more.
Cut down on emissions. Another thing that causes world hunger is disease outbreaks.
How can we stop that? Get vaccinated.
Wear masks when a crazy new outbreak hits. Listen to the scientists.
Is your neighbor struggling? Can you do something to help?
Are you struggling? What can you do in your life to help yourself?
I believe we will only solve the world’s problems if we start actually trying to do something on a small scale every day. You know those commercials that come on, telling you how you can help solve world hunger for “just a few pennies a day.”
Think about why you want Elon to pay billions (then scoff that the millions he gives aren’t enough) and maybe help out. There are much more of us without access to billions of dollars that could make small, but impactful changes daily.
Most of us just… don’t.
“You cannot keep blaming the rich people for all of your miseries if you are not willing to act in the first place.” ― Mwanandeke Kindembo, Resistance To Intolerance
What do you think? In what ways can you act?
Is there a way for the rich to solve the world’s problems? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!