Wealth Is What You've Given

I once heard a saying that has always stuck with me. It goes something like this -

The actual measure of one's wealth is not what they have accumulated, but what they have given away.

I don't know who said this or where it comes from, but I like it, and it rings true.

I've also come to realize that the same principle applies to companies. The measure of a company's wealth is what they give back to their employees. A very profitable company that is stingy with salaries and employee benefits isn't wealthy in my mind. There's a difference between profit and wealth. My favorite example of a legitimately wealthy company is Basecamp. Though they are a very well-run, and profitable business, we know they are truly wealthy as a company because of the benefits they give back to their employees.

What happens if we extrapolate this out one more level? Could it be that the measure of a country's wealth is what it gives back to its citizens?

How you read that previous sentence probably speaks to where on the political spectrum you fall. I would define "gives back" loosely, some things are hard tangible benefits, some are a bit squishier like certain freedoms. I like that Basecamp calls that section of their handbook "Benefits & Perks". Benefits are tangible and quantifiable like salary, insurance, and stipends. Perks are more squishy like sabbaticals, leaves, and four day work weeks.

Under this lens, what could the US look like if it wanted to be the wealthiest country in the world?