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Rich and Poor in the British Society
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Possible Sources of Wealth

  • Born into a wealthy family. (inheritance)
  • Marry a rich spouse and share their wealth.
  • “Relative Wealth” through gifts. For example, from older family members.
  • National Lottery has made thousand in the UK millionaires.
  • Investing money in financial markets, where they can earn a substantial amount back.
  • Investing in a new product, marketing a new concept (e.g. popular song or art).
  • Talent for something that pays a good salary. National or International recognition. E.g. film/football.
  • Working hard for long hours. May have studied hard to get a good type of job. E.g lawyer/doctor.
  • Saving and investing.

The National Lottery

For every £1, 28p is given to charities. The four categories for these charities are:

  • Arts = 16.67%
  • Heritage = 16.67%
  • Sport = 16.67%
  • Health, Education, Environment and Projects = 50%

However it is also a cause of poverty due to being an ‘Instant Buzz’, which makes it a dangerous form of gambling.

The two main aims of lottery are to raise money for charities and for the company to make a profit.

If someone opposed strongly to the lottery, they might say that the aim is simply to create an extra voluntary form a tax paid by the poor, in hopes of winning something back. The organisers do this for their own profit.

Types of Poverty

  • Absolute Poverty = Where people lack the income to buy food, warmth, shelter and to maintain health.
  • Relative Poverty = Where people are poor compared to the rest of the country.
  • Poverty Trap = Lacking the money or resources to be able to get out of poverty.

Causes of Poverty

  • Unemployment (56% of Britain), through benefits they can be given enough to live on, but not comfortably.
  • Low Wages because many jobs don’t require special skills, so can be done with little training. This means they are on a minimum wage and can barely afford to live, let alone with luxuries as well. If the cost of living increases, these people will become poor.
  • Wasteful spending patterns, spent on things such as Tobacco, alcohol, gambling or other luxuries.
  • Debt, mainly through financial mismanagement because they are tempted by luxuries but can’t afford to pay it back. Mortgage payments can’t be re-paid, means house is taken away from them. Others could save, but investments go wrong and companies fold, meaning they end up owing thousands to individuals.

Groups that help the poor in Society

  • State – (through benefit and minimum wage). Advantages are that it provides fairer payment, helps to lift families out of poverty and can help the areas overall economy. However the disadvantages would include the fact that it could potentially discourage employers and it pushes up production costs.
  • Charities – They receive no government assistance but can help people find shelter instead. It can be both long and short term.
  • Religious Groups and Communities – Some organisations are set up in the parish, this helps those who are in poverty due to ill health and provides them with homeless shelters.
  • Families and Friends – They have a responsibility to help those close to you in your time of need, however sometimes it is questionable whether or not this bond is still strong. In some peoples opinion, they should have a financial obligation towards the poor.

Religious Attitudes

Is it practical to follow Jesus’ advice and Sell all their possessions for the poor?

No, because this could lead to a potential poverty trap of their own. Although it is right to help the poor, we shouldn’t place our own lives in risk of poverty in order to do so, especially if these people have families of their own which need looking after. However this is the advice that most Christians follow, when it comes to their attitudes towards wealth.

Zakah - The Islamic religious, states that each person should donate 2.5% of their savings to charities per year. This means that the rich is always helping the poor when necessary.

Materialism Vs. Spirituality

  • Materialism = Spending Power (through Material Wealth)
  • Spirituality = Emotions (Wealth of something Emotional)

“A Wealthy person is a Successful person.” – Wealthy people may have Material wealth, which could easily lead to a Spiritual wealth later on in their life, due to a good quality of life with family members or friends Especially if their wealth is self-earned and they have fulfilled their life ambitions, therefore there is a sense of accomplishment and hence the Spirituality.

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