Does wealth give people power?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Wealth does certainly give people power to some degree. It does not give absolute power, but it does give some power.  The amount of power that wealth gives can vary from country to country.

In some countries, wealth gives more power than in others.  In particular, the weaker and more corrupt a country’s government, the more power wealth gives. If a country’s government is weak and corrupt, wealth can buy government officials.  It can buy bodyguards or people who will coerce other people. In such countries, wealth can buy great amounts of power.

Even in countries like the United States, where the government is strong and relatively uncorrupt, wealth does give power. People with great wealth have the power to get all the material things they want.  Wealthy people can travel wherever they want and buy whatever they want.  This gives them the power to provide for their families and to make themselves happy. These are important things.

Wealth also buys other kinds of power in the US. Wealthy people who want to do so can donate money to politicians, which gives them access to those politicians. Wealthy people can pay lobbyists to influence the government to do what they want.  Wealthy people can pay lawyers to get them out of many kinds of trouble and to help them make sure the law is on their side. These, too, are forms of power.

But wealth does not give absolute power, particularly in countries like the United States.  Wealthy people can be convicted of crimes and put in prison. Wealthy people cannot typically bribe officials to get whatever they want.  Wealthy people cannot force the government to create laws that the people really hate.  These people do not have absolute power.  They have the power to get many things that they want, but not everything.

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