How Rich is Rich?

Is money the root of evil? Can Christians be rich? What does the Bible say about money?

In this video, Barney Frank (D – MA) says that there are a lot of rich people we can tax to pay for government stuff. I wonder how many people realize that “rich” is a relative term. Virtually every American is rich when compared with most of the world’s population. Are you rich? I certainly am. Not only do I live in a house, but I have a car. And 5 computers. And DVD players and digital cameras and smelly candles and soft, fluffy toilet paper. And snacks.

There’s a lot of class warfare going on in American politics, and Barack Obama’s nomination has brought it to the surface like no other time in recent memory. Let’s get the rich people! Stick it to the rich people! This sort of anger marketing is carefully designed to elicit a response…but let’s think about it a bit more.

Let’s pretend that it’s bad to be rich. Because rich is a relative term, we need to quantify what “rich” really means. A lot of people would say that anyone making over $100,000 per year is rich. Tony Campolo told me in 1983 that anyone making over $13,400 is rich. He also said that they should give away anything more than that, but that’s a tale for another post.

Is there something magically evil about the number $100,000? Of course not. Is it possible to make $100,000 and be a good and righteous person? Certainly…so $100k isn’t the dividing line between rich folks and regular ones.

How about $101,000? $102,000? $107,000?

See the point? There’s no such thing as “rich” or even “too rich to be right”. Money is a tool, just like energy or enthusiasm or hammers or keyboards. When someone says “the rich should pay for it”, maybe you’ll also think “why is this person trying to make me unhappy with someone else’s income?”.