Wed Jul 2nd, 2014 at 05:27:36 AM EST
I know we've covered this elsewhere, but I think this is a notable piece, capturing the capitalist arguments for some sort of social justice that we've covered here often enough. Massive inequality doesn't even make economic sense for the very rich.
Dear 1%ers, many of our fellow citizens are starting to believe that capitalism itself is the problem. I disagree, and Iím sure you do too. Capitalism, when well managed, is the greatest social technology ever invented to create prosperity in human societies. But capitalism left unchecked tends toward concentration and collapse. It can be managed either to benefit the few in the near term or the many in the long term. The work of democracies is to bend it to the latter. That is why investments in the middle class work. And tax breaks for rich people like us donít. Balancing the power of workers and billionaires by raising the minimum wage isnít bad for capitalism. Itís an indispensable tool smart capitalists use to make capitalism stable and sustainable. And no one has a bigger stake in that than zillionaires like us.
The oldest and most important conflict in human societies is the battle over the concentration of wealth and power. The folks like us at the top have always told those at the bottom that our respective positions are righteous and good for all. Historically, we called that divine right. Today we have trickle-down economics.
What nonsense this is. Am I really such a superior person? Do I belong at the center of the moral as well as economic universe? Do you?
My family, the Hanauers, started in Germany selling feathers and pillows. They got chased out of Germany by Hitler and ended up in Seattle owning another pillow company. Three generations later, I benefited from that. Then I got as lucky as a person could possibly get in the Internet age by having a buddy in Seattle named Bezos. I look at the average Joe on the street, and I say, ďThere but for the grace of Jeff go I.Ē Even the best of us, in the worst of circumstances, are barefoot, standing by a dirt road, selling fruit. We should never forget that, or forget that the United States of America and its middle class made us, rather than the other way around.
Or we could sit back, do nothing, enjoy our yachts. And wait for the pitchforks.
Politico, weirdly enough
Elsewhere the writer makes the argument that a rich population will make the already rich better off in absolute terms.
What I fear he's missed is that too many people aren't concerned with their absolute wealth, only their relative wealth: they need other people to be very poor so that can feel very rich.
Once you accept that excessive inequality is a bad thing you're arguing about the details of how you deal with that. The current argument almost everywhere is whether people having to depend on the charity of food banks is a good thing or not.