[ExI] the formerly rich and their larvae...

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Feb 12 17:31:36 UTC 2008

BillK writes

> Lee wrote:
>> Well, come now.  The whole point of laying out
>> an extreme scenario is to make the argument clear.
>> So what if Bill Gates owns 1% of American wealth
>> (or something like that, Rockefeller had even more
>> at one point)?  I couldn't care less, provided that
>> I myself (and others) are themselves all on
>> exponentially increasing paths of wealth garnering.
> The trouble is that you're not.
> The US and the UK are rapidly heading towards Brazil-like levels of inequality.

Despite my attempts to explain how some of us prefer to
look at it, y'all keep coming back to 

   i n e q u a l i t y

as some kind of fundamental problem.

Basically, see, I don't really  *care*   about inequality per se
(oh yes, all other things being equal--which they never are--
inequality is divisive, and so it weakens the identification that
people have with their countries, which for me can be 
a bad thing)

> <http://www.amazon.com/Richistan-Journey-Through-American-Wealth/dp/0307339262>
> <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jul/22/usa.paulharris>
> Quote:
> The rich now live in their own world of private education, private
> health care and gated mansions.

More power to them.

What it really comes down to is this:

> But while the super-rich have boomed, the earning power
> of the average and poor citizen has not nearly matched
> the performance of the elite. In 2005 the top one per cent
> of earners in the US gained 14 per cent in income in real
> terms, while the rest of the country gained less than one
> per cent.

I do not *believe* what levelers like Frank say, (e.g. in
his books Luxury Fever and The Winner-Take-All-Society).
Every few years the average person has quite a bit better
performance from the machines he buys, and gets better
quality from food and other articles. You really think that
in the U.S. and U.K. there are a lot of people who'd like
to live the way that people did in the 80s?

But here is the core disagreement:

> The situation is especially bad for the severely poor - those
> living at half the poverty level - whose numbers are at a
> 32-year high.

Can't you see how *in principle* such a point has utterly
no significance for those who believe as I do?  The
poverty level is, you know, simply a certain percentile!
It's like lamenting that half of all people have below
average intelligence.

> The rich are getting richer but are not bringing everyone
> else with them.

I do acknowlegde disappointment that the "exponential
growth" of the wealth of the less rich is a pretty low

Also, there simply is no better system. Or do you believe
that some redistribution scheme won't simply bring everyone

> So long as the multi-millionaires hand out a few cheap toys to the
> poor so that they can play music and watch videos, they will be
> entertained and won't even notice how poor they really are.

If the people cannot be trusted to say how poor they are,
just what kinds of "toys" or other resources do you think
that the rich *should* be handing down?


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