Are donations from millionaires to be criticised?
31 de mayo de 2019

A few days ago, breaking news informed about a large donation of 40 million euros to the Andalusian Health Service (SAS in Spanish). What is interesting here is that the rapid spread of these news was not due to the donation itself, but to its author: Amancio Ortega. Podemos has strongly criticised the richest man in Spain, on the account that Inditex, his company, has been accused of evading 600 million euros in taxes, which is false. Based on this, the deputy of the Parliament of Madrid of this party, Isabel Serra, argues that the public health system cannot accept this donation from Amancio Ortega, as it should only be financed with taxes. These attacks lead to the following question: can an act of generosity be subject to criticism?

For Podemos, the existence of people like Amancio Ortega represent a problem for society, just because they are rich. The left is desperate because, in its mindset, they cause social inequalities. Therefore, any citizen with a higher than average economic status automatically becomes the enemy. Now, if we speak of absolute poverty, it would be condemned both by the left and by the right, but the social inequality that censures the left is something very different. It does not harm anyone. In fact, it generates the opposite: thanks to companies like Inditex, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created.

Wealth constitutes the reward for reaching certain goals; the result of the individual’s effort. Someone like Amancio Ortega contributes to society, both by example and employment, becoming an important piece and even an engine for prosperity. Not only that, but he also pays his taxes. Therefore, the demonisation of millionaires by the left is incoherent. Rather, we should all be proud of Amancio Ortega for all the merits he has achieved and the good he does to society.

On the other hand, Podemos defends that taxpayers’ money is preferable to donations to support the public health system, and it seems indecent that a public hospital accepts such private funds. However, without this alternative stream of resources, the State remains the only institution that can fund, for example, the purchase of new health technology, or the salary of staff. The responsibility bore by the state is sustained by taxpayers’ money, which translates into an increase in public spending. On the other hand, if Amancio Ortega decides to make a donation to the public system, that saves taxpayers a lot of money. In addition, private initiative should have the freedom to choose where its money goes, which includes the public sector.

One could argue that people who are really affected by an increase in public spending are precisely those economically wealthier, so they are not entitled to complain about a tax increase: by having more money, it is possible to contribute more, and, therefore, it is unfair that they do not want to collaborate with the system.

All the reasoning of Podemos starts from the basis that, in a society, we need to redistribute wealth. Now this is not efficient. The State cannot help a person improve his or her economic status if it is not through the harm to another who is above. Instead of helping those at the bottom through work that drives them to a higher economic status, they are being subsidised, sustained by higher incomes. As a consequence, when those at the top are forced to devote more than half of their wealth to redistribution instead of job creation, they are harmed both themselves and society as a whole.

Society needs citizens that create wealth and employment

In addition, we must not forget that, in order to be able to redistribute, it is necessary to generate that wealth before. If Amancio Ortega did not exist, with him hundreds of thousands of jobs would disappear, as well as all the money he contributes to the State through taxes. Therefore, he does not represent an adversary to destroy, but the perfect ally for the survival of the State, despite the inefficient redistribution system that it promotes. Any society needs citizens that generate employment and wealth, because this is not a gift, but a fruit.

Once dissected the criticism of Podemos to the donation of a millionaire and what this means, should an act of generosity be frowned upon? Perhaps what most revolts the purple party is that, with respect to its total assets, a donation of this caliber is hardly an effort for Amancio Ortega. But that does not mean that it is insignificant. In fact, hospital employees felt very grateful for this gesture.

In short, and returning to the question we were asking, a person who acts selflessly with others should not be subject to criticism. In addition, this example of generosity constitutes the maximum expression of the exercise of individual freedom: Amancio Ortega, because he wishes, donates 300 million euros to the public health system. Private money is dedicated to what the owner decides. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.

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