Whose Money Is it Anyway?

I recently read in Third Sector magazine that US President Barack Obama gave $172,000 to Charity in 2011 equating to 22 per cent of his income that year. Fantastic I thought – I have a dream, fantasy or whatever you may call it of reaching a place whereby I do a sort of tithe[1] reversal and give away 90 per cent income so it was an inspiring read

I was still reflecting on this with a smile when I read that Lord McAlpine had been awarded £185,000 in damages by the BBC for the false allegations made against him in relation to Child abuse.  The BBC stating that “The settlement is comprehensive and reflects the gravity of the allegations that were wrongly made,”

It was shortly followed by calls for him to donate the money to a children’s charity. My thoughts were – it’s his call and I responded along these lines to someone who had made such a comment and he retorted, “he’s already fairly wealthy. The important thing is his name’s been publicly cleared. Perhaps the money could benefit others.”

I felt very uncomfortable and somewhat disconcerted by this – Now I believe in paying tax, in helping and supporting others but why should we assume that because a person earns/ has more money than the average person  that if they get something extra even with very good reasons, that they should automatically just give it away to Charity?

If there are taxes due they should be paid, but If we begin to operate on the basis that people awarded money that already have a “reasonable” income should give it away – where do we draw the line, who defines the boundaries and what happens to freedom of choice?  Do we say that a lottery winner who already has a substantial income should automatically give their winners away? That a high earner within the City who wins a claim on the basis of unfair dismissal after many years of discrimination and abuse within an organization should give the money to some form of support group because they are not that bad of.  In either case the individuals concerned might choose to, but I believe it should remain their choice and they should not be pressurized into doing something that they would not otherwise do or be made to feel bad if they don’t.

Yes, there is no question, the societies that we live in are in many ways unjust and unfair, however, I believe that we must be careful in the way in which we try to rectify such ills.  We must hold people and organisations to account, but we must be cautious in how we invariable hold people responsible.

Like so many others, I was disappointed to learn that Starbucks pays little if any tax within the UK when they were said to be making so much money. I was also surprised to learn that same week that a Starbucks branch in the centre of Milton Keynes had been closed due to the recession. It all made sense when a Starbucks franchise holder on Question Time spoke of how boycotting Starbucks would affect people like himself and lead to the threat of job losses.  I think most people like myself forget or are unaware that Starbucks in the UK is ultimately run by franchise holders who all probably do pay their taxes.

I think overall my concern is therefore on the systems that are in place and how they operate and affect us all.  Equally I’m concerned about a them and us society that ultimately pitches people that have against people that don’t


[1] Tithe – to pay or give a tenth part of especially for the support of the church.

Copyright 2012. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *