My son sent me this link – Mashable:
The issue of wealth inequality across the United States is well known, but this video shows you the extent of that imbalance in dramatic and graphic fashion.
The video, which started going viral on Friday and whose traffic continues to climb on YouTube — reflects the facts as seen from many different sources. We present it without comment, letting you, our readers, be the judge.
That video is misleading because it measures comparative net worth. But lots of people with middle class incomes have little or no net worth. Add up everything you own (house, cars, savings, retirement) and subtract everything you owe (including mortgage, consumer debt and student loans) and that’s your net worth.
If you are upside down on your mortgage and don’t have a lot of savings you can easily have a negative net worth, even if you are making $50,000 year and living in a big house. This is especially true if you are younger and haven’t had a chance to accumulate equity and retirement savings.
Does it really matter how much money Bill Gates has? What claim do we have on his wealth? Did he steal it from the rest of us? Appeals of this nature are designed to provoke feelings of unfairness – “He’s got so much more than me, that’s not fair!”
Bill Gates amassed a huge fortune, but he did it playing by the rules as they existed then. So now he’s a billionaire. What do we do about it? We already taxed the money when he earned it, and now we tax the considerable interest he earns on his wealth each year. So what’s next? Do we levy a tax on assets? Unless we do he’s just gonna keep getting richer, even if we took half his interest income in taxes.
Here’s an alternative point of view:
The wealthy accumulate wealth by appropriating the wealth created by those who sell their wealth creating power to the wealthy. Everyone who receives a paycheck enhances the wealth of the wealthy by being paid less than the amount of wealth they produce. If you do not produce excess wealth for the wealthy, or otherwise contribute to the profit of the wealthy, your employment will be terminated.
The wealthy distribute that which they appropriate in a manner that in their judgment best insures their continued accumulation of wealth. Those who best serve the wealthy are best compensated for their successful efforts at accumulation of wealth from the producers of wealth for appropriation by the wealthy.
People commonly understand the wealthy as creators of wealth rather than appropriators of wealth. People desire to serve those whom they see as the the source of wealth for a share of the wealth, misunderstanding that in serving the wealthy they are serving the distributors of wealth, those who are also the appropriators of wealth, but not the producers of wealth.
Shorter version: “The rich get wealthy by stealing it.” So did Bill Gates steal the wealth of all those Microsoft employees who have worked for him over the years? Or was he stealing from the people who bought his products? Both? When Microsoft stock goes up in value, who is he stealing that from?
There is a political issue involving the inequality of wealth, but it’s not one of fairness. It has to do with the fact that wealth translates into political power, giving the wealthy relatively more power than those less fortunate. That’s certainly anti-democratic, but the only thing we can really do is minimize the effect that individual wealth has on government.
Here’s a cold, hard historical fact – the only societies with no income or wealth inequality are those where everybody is poor. This includes feudal societies, capitalist nations, socialist countries and third-world states.
There are a lot of ways you can compare the top and bottom levels of society including relative wealth and income. The real measure of wealth is standard of living. And the comparison should be between the poorest people here and the poorest people in other countries. That’s where the critical disparity is.
Even the poorest nations around the world have a wealthy 1% – the rich upper crust that controls the government. But where is the standard of living of the bottom levels of society the highest?
Right here in the good ol’ U.S of A.
Not only are our poor people fat, but we have to import the poor people of Mexico and other poorer-than-us nations do do the work our own poor people won’t deign to do themselves. You pretty much have to be mentally ill or drug addicted to be homeless in this country, and even then they have sleeping bags and tents to shelter them from the elements.
Capitalism isn’t perfect but it works. We can analyze and theorize why it works, but it works. Until we find something that works even better we need to hang on to the only economic system with a proven record of creating wealth for everyone involved.
That does not mean we should return to laissez-faire capitalism of the 19th Century. Capitalism needs to be regulated – but not strangled. There also need to be safety nets to protect workers from the short-term effects of free market competition.
The proper role of government is not to control the outcome, it is to provide a level playing field where capitalism can flourish, maintain the safety nets and to act as a referee. Government has no business picking winners and losers or determining how to “fairly” distribute profits.