"I can do what I want."
That's true. But what do I really want? And what should I really want?
Charity is a foundational value of civil society. The Bible mandates a tithe, which the sages interpret to mean between 10 and 20 percent of one’s income. The government gives tax breaks to encourage charitable donations; and wealthy philanthropists are known to give away billions of dollars.
But what if I’m donating 20 percent or more of my income to charity and I have plenty left over: Is there anything wrong ethically about having a fleet of exotic cars, a private yacht costing hundreds of millions, or spending 2 million dollars on a birthday party? What about space tourism, custom designer clothes, or owning multiple 20-room estates around the world?
Presumably, there’s nothing wrong with having nice things or taking vacations, but is there ever a limit? Is it defensible to argue that the luxury industry provides jobs, or is that a smokescreen -- especially in light of stories like the reported slave labor conditions where Fiji water is produced?
We don’t want the government controlling the choices we make, but when we live a life of excess just because we can afford it, does that undermine the principle of self-discipline and responsible stewardship of the planet that should be part of our system of core values?
Meet this week’s panelists:
Jennifer H. Elder, is a CPA and Certified Speaking Professional who helps leaders future-proof their businesses by making smart decisions and staying ethical.
Tim Hawkes is managing director of Unlimited Potential Coaching Specialists in the UK and director of global operations. He is an international speaker and works with organizations to develop organizational culture.
Mark O'Brien is founder and principal of O’Brien Communications Group, helping companies add innovation to their mindsets and their operations to create discernible competitive advantage