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Social Implications of Wealth Creation

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Social Implications of Wealth Creation

The Social Implications of Wealth Creation

    At the base of almost every ethical system in the world is the idea that the pursuit and worship of unrighteous mammon is unfulfilling, and there is much truth to this.  While idolizing material wealth is likely to be a path to spiritual and moral poverty, it is important to remember some of the reasons why people get rich in a market economy as well as some of the implications of their efforts.

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    1.  You get wealthy by producing value. Generally, there are two roads to wealth.  You can make something and trade it to people who want it, or you can use force to take things that don’t belong to you.  For most of history, the most socially acceptable–or easiest–way to get rich was simply to take things from other people; indeed, in ancient China and at the height of the Roman Empire, “commerce” was looked down upon.  If you made all your money as a government administrator, through military conquest, or by extracting tribute, you were admired.  Suffice it to say, though, that simply “taking stuff” doesn’t actually produce anything.  Over the last five hundred years or so, the legal institutions that encourage trade and commerce have developed.  The histories of the European economies in which modern market economies developed is by no means spotless: soeme of the crimes committed by colonial powers in Africa and Latin America rank among history’s greatest attrocities.  One thing, however, that the process of global integration and the spread of the market economy did was spread the means to prosperity all over the world.  The planet can today support far more peopel than it could formerly, and the potential exists for everyone to be rich.

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    2.  Other people get rich if you get rich by producing, and they can get rich if you save. Your restraint produces capital and new technology for others, who can use the funds you don’t consume to produce new goods and new technologies.  Moreover, if you are a successful entrepreneur your ideas and innovations geneate benefits for everyone–ironically, the bulk of the benefit is likely to accrue to people other than you.

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    3.  “Giving Something Back” might be misleading. Bill Gates became the richest man in the world by producing an operating system and software package that made us all much, much, much more productive.  The great irony, as some (including leading development expert William Easterly) have pointed out, is that Gates’s attempts to save the world through his charitable endeavors may prove to be a drop in the international bucket when compared to the contributions to human well-being that he has made through Microsoft.  Should we scorn Gates, then?  Absolutely not–it’s his money to dispose of as he wishes.  However, if we really want to help those around us, we would all do well to take a good, hard look at what we do well and think about whether this is a more productive use of our time and resources than some of our charitable endeavors.

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    Perhaps unexpectedly, it is unnecessary to mean to do well for others in order to actually do well for others, and one of the lessons of economics is that the unintended consequences of well-intentioned actions and endeavors might actually produce more harm than good.  Production makes us better off, and even allegedly “selfish” endeavors might do more for the world than our charitable activities.

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    More by this author

    Art Carden

    Art Carden is an Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

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    Last Updated on January 27, 2022

    5 Most Affordable Australian Cities For Students

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    5 Most Affordable Australian Cities For Students

    With high standards of education, a multicultural community, and laid-back lifestyle, it’s not hard to see why so many students love Australia. However, one thing Australia is also known for is being the world’s most expensive country to study in as a foreign student.

    For those willing to look beyond popular cities like Sydney or Melbourne, however, study abroad doesn’t have to be unaffordable. Check out these five more economical cities that still make for great student living.

    1. Gold Coast

    If you’re looking for a more affordable place to buckle down and study while still enjoying glorious beaches and a vibrant nightlife, the Gold Coast is an excellent choice. While it has no shortage of restaurants, cafes, bars, and natural attractions, the city is also well-known for its quality of education.

    Gold Coast is home to Bond University, which has Australia’s highest rating for overall graduate satisfaction, but also some of the country’s highest tuition fees. Fortunately, it hosts campuses for Griffith University and South Cross University as well, both of which have affordable options for international students.

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    When it comes to off-campus accommodation, there are plenty of choices, from shared housing to homestays. Real estate sites like Flatmates can be useful for finding options within your budget.

    2. Wollongong

    Wollongong’s close proximity to Sydney (80 km) makes it a popular choice for students who can’t afford the high cost of living in Australia’s largest city, but still want to experience all that it has to offer. Wollongong itself is a lively city as well, and is rated as the country’s most livable small city thanks to its gorgeous beaches and lively city centre.

    The University of Wollongong is one of Australia’s top universities, with a comprehensive academic program, international research reputation, and high graduate employment rates.

    Due to a lack of on-campus parking, most students prefer to walk, cycle, or use the free bus service that operates between the university and city centre. Living costs are quite reasonable in Wollongong, and sites like Gumtree can come in handy if you’re looking to split housing costs or even score some second-hand furniture on arrival.

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    3. Hobart

    Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, the second oldest city in Australia, and also the cheapest city for university students to live in. While it might not be as happening as cities like Gold Coast or Brisbane, its striking natural beauty and slower pace of life make it a great place to block out distractions and focus on studying.

    The Hobart Universities sector is based on a single institution, the University of Tasmania, which is consistently rated among the top ten universities in Australia and has a large population of students from abroad, with more than one in five students being international.

    Although public transport in Hobart isn’t as convenient as could be, there is plenty of student accommodation available to make up for it. Students often live in shared houses near the university so they can simply walk to class. If you’re looking to rent a shared house or room in the area, Easy Roommate can be a good place to start your search.

    4. Adelaide

    Of Australia’s major cities, Adelaide is the cheapest to live in. That, along with its spacious layout, clean and green atmosphere, and beachside attractions make it a great place to live and study. It’s also regarded as the food and wine capital of Australia.

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    Adelaide has three universities, including the University of Adelaide, which is ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide; the University of South Australia; and Flinders University. Its integrated bus, train, and tram transportation system connect all parts of the city and make it easy for students to get around.

    Naturally, the cost of accommodation is lower outside the city centre, and depending on which university you’re studying with, the outer suburbs could be more convenient as well. Check Study Adelaide for information on a range of student accommodation options, from independent living to homestays.

    5.  Brisbane

    Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and Australia’s third largest city. Unlike Sydney and Melbourne, it’s known for being one of the most affordable cities in Australia, which makes it a good choice for students. It’s also known for its pleasant subtropical climate and wide range of entertainment options.

    Brisbane has three major universities: the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Queensland, and Griffith University (which accepts the most study abroad undergraduates). The inner city is well-connected by public transportation, although cycling is popular as well, and there are plenty of cycle paths that make it easy for students to get around this way.

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    Students typically live in and around the inner suburbs, where the bulk of Brisbane’s teaching facilities are located. If you’re looking for convenient accommodation off-campus, you can check sites like Urbanest or The Pad.

    Featured photo credit: Bhavesh Patel via unsplash.com

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