Friday, August 28, 2015

Inherit Wealth, Not Culpability

A man is robbed, kidnapped, and driven 2,000 miles from his home.  In the 20 years he's held captive, his assailant uses the money he stole and forced labor of the kidnapped man to build a successful business, the profits from which enable him to buy a mansion and several cars.

The kidnapper dies, and all of his possessions pass on to his nephew, who is surprised to find the  prisoner locked in the basement.

"Please let me go free!" the victim begs.
"Of course you can go!  I'm not some kind of barbarian.  I'm ashamed to learn that my uncle would do this!  I would never think of doing such an atrocious thing!  Please, you may go at once!" says the nephew.

"Thank you, thank you!" the victim replies. "But, how will I get home?  I was taken over 2,000 miles and I have nothing but the clothes on my back."

"I recommend, then, that you get a job," replies the nephew, "nothing in this world is free."

"For 20 years your uncle forced me to work to support his business, which he started with money he took from me.  Without my contributions, you wouldn't have this house, your car, your business.  Can you at least spare me enough of these ill-gotten gains to get me home and back on my feet?  Maybe drive me home, if nothing else?"

"Well, that wouldn't be fair.  I didn't do this to you, so I'm not going to give you any hand-outs to make up for what somebody else did.  But... tell you what: I help those who help themselves. I'll give you a loan at slightly reduced interest so you can attend school to learn the skills you need for a job opening I've got at my uncle's -- I mean my -- company. You can pay me back out of your wages, if you get the job, otherwise you can work somewhere else and pay me back anyway." replied the nephew, who was definitely not some kind of barbarian.

"But --" started the victim.

"That's my final offer.  Take it or leave it." the nephew cut off.

The victim looked at the filthy rags he'd called clothing, felt around in his empty pocket, and listened to his stomach growling before biting his tongue, hanging his head, and taking the loan.

A few years later, after he got the job, his co-workers said they thought he'd been given special consideration in the hiring process because of his history with the owner. "It's just not fair," one was heard to gripe.  He was right, of course.  It wasn't fair at all.

No comments: