What is Bourgeois Oblige?

Here is my latest article for The Imaginative Conservative website. I’m suggesting a model of economics which is based on the principle that “to whom much is given much is required”–and that this extends to ordinary folk, not just the super rich.

My father was a born again businessman. A fervent Evangelical Christian, he owned and operated a chain of six men’s clothing stores in South Carolina. Sometimes his fellow Christians would ask, “Jim don’t you feel a bit guilty making so much profit?” “Not at all!” my Dad would grin, “I want to make as much money as possible so that I can give that much more to fund the Lord’s work.”

Fund the Lord’s work he did. As we were growing up we knew Dad tithed ten percent of his income to the church before taxes. Then he added another five percent as his “love offering” to the Lord. When I was in ninth grade we gathered the data of our family’s finances and produced pie charts showing income and expenditure. As I was finishing mine in class, the teacher came to have a look, “Dwight you made a mistake there in the section showing the amount your family gives to charity. You put 15%. It should be 1.5%.” I still feel the surge of pride I felt as I said, “No sir. That isn’t a mistake. My father gives 15% to our church.” The teacher fainted.

Read the whole article here.