LaserGuy wrote:Suppose that there was some mechanism by which we could determine precisely how much of an individual's net worth was due to good luck and how much they earned through their own efforts. Would you consider it fair, in some sense of the term, if there was a mechanism to transfer the wealth due to good luck to people whose net worth was less than it ought to be, based on their efforts, as a result of bad luck?
Well, let's see. I work hard for my money, and (by hypothesis) my own good luck and bad luck cancel out. So, after taxes, what I have left over is 100% mine. It happens to be a lot. My son had the good luck to be born to me. He's only 18 years old, but clever, diligent, and has a good attitude. He also has a pretty good idea for a gizmo that does fancy tricks with geese. The youtube likes alone are worth it!
So, I invest in my son. I give him all my money, and say "have at it!".
My neighbor, whom I don't like, lost his job. His son is also clever and diligent, but he has a dumb idea he wants to pursue. Something about calculating the best routes into town to save time and gas. He has this nutty idea that he can get carmakers to build it into their cars. Too bad he doesn't know any carmakers. But, not my problem.
So, along comes this "mechanism" that determines that my son was too lucky, and my neighbor's son was too unlucky. So, this mechanism transfers my hard earned cash that I gave my son over to this son-of-a-neighbor-that-I-don't-like.
So, no. That mechanism is not fair. It robs me of my ability to give my money to my son, and have him actually receive it. That's what it means to be "my" money.
It may benefit society to the extent that saving gas is better than watching geese do the mambo, but it also means that his second business (which he hasn't thought of yet) of using 3d printers to make prosthetics on the cheap won't have the benefit of his prior experience. Oh well, maybe somebody else will think of it.
Zcorp wrote:Don't just tell me it is the wrong way to look at it. [....]Given my explanation, why is this the wrong way to look at it? What is a better way to look at it?
I don't have a solution. But that doesn't make any other solution better than leaving it alone. And the right problem has to be the one addressed, or we end up in the "drug problem" miasma; a similar feedback loop where the wrong problem is typically addressed.
The better way to look at it is the influence money has on power. And this is not to say that concentration of power is a bad thing either - it is a necessary thing if we are to get anything done. So, look at money's influence on power, and how (and whether) to reduce this. Consider that simply being
the CEO of a big corporation, even if you don't take home mucho moolah, carries a lot of clout.
Consider that when corporations get too big, they can dictate policy simply through threat of failure. Corporations employ lots of people, and control lots of ouptput which controls and/or influences lots of people. This will remain true no matter what the limitations on individual wealth may be.
When a corporation becomes "too big to fail", then it has jackknifed, and has transferred the risk (of failure) to the general public. Perhaps at this point the public should become a stockholder. (Even if in theory this sound good - it's off the top of my head - in practice I'm not sure it would have much of an effect given the public's propensity to not vote their shares of stock they own individually. However, perhaps a fund could be created to manage these shares in a manner that benefits the public. Selecting the managers of this fund would be as problematic as selecting our political leaders. But it's an idea that might be worth discussing.
There is the Disney problem - corporations making political inroads that further their own agendas. Disney is the only corporation that has a permanent no-fly zone above it protected by the FAA. Even nuclear power plants don't get that kind of protection. Other corporations no doubt have been able to craft legislation to their own ends; the RIAA comes to mind, as do the cable companies vs the internet.
I don't know whether this is due to actual government corruption, or simply the fact that these corporations have the ability, knowledge, and resources to make and present their case, where the ordinary citizen does not. I see it as a legitimate role of govenment (under "consumer protection") to counteract this. But I don't see this happening. (Or perhaps I merely disagree with their results.)
This is where the problems lie. Not with influence that comes from personal wealth, but rather, with influence that comes with position
. It just so happens that this position also bring enough money to make others jealous.
That said... there's a very real problem with some super-rich folk; that is that they can purchase significant armaments on the black market; perhaps even nuclear weapons. But these folk can just as easily be overseas, and it's the black market that is the problem, not the money. To solve this problem, go after the black market. (Yes, I know how easy that is.)
Zcorp wrote:How exactly do you expect us to make things more obvious to you if you can't even be bothered to RTFA.
TFA basically said that there is income inequality. It put numbers on the amount. That's not the part I dispute. I dispute the claim that it's "too much".
In suitable irony, the monkey video won't play for me. None of youtube works for me. I was on AT&T, and they forced me into U-verse and then dumped me onto Frontier. Ever since U-verse, youtube has been poor to unavailable, and parts of google no longer work well (maps for example sometimes won't finish downloading). I don't know if this is some corporate shenanigans and (of course) they won't tell me. But I can't access.
sardia wrote:Ucim wants a sob story to justify spending on the poor, but doesn't need one for the rich.
No, I want justification for limiting freedoms - in this case the freedom to keep my money. "He has too much money" is not justification by itself.
Zamfir wrote:If some change has as side effect that it diminishes the wealth of rich people, than that is also part of that whole hands-in-the-air-who-can-help-it story.
I'm ok with that, so long as said change is justified in and of itself.
Zamfir wrote:You, ucim, seem to argue that the rich do not necessarily deserve their wealth, but neither are they undeserving. It's just somewhat arbitrary in between, and we shouldn't act directly to change it. I can get behind that. But it turns the tables on a lot of neoliberal choices, if more money for rich people is a neutral thing instead of a good thing.
Pretty much. We shouldn't act directly to change it for its own sake. However, if it brings problems, then those problems need to be addressed. If that reduces the wealth of the rich, so be it. The rich benefit disproportionally from society, and that brings a disproportionate responsibility.
"The rich" (individuals) are an attractive target. But "The powerful" is probably more accurate, and individuals are often powerful for reasons other than their personal wealth.
The hard question is how to encourage the powerful to act contrary to their own best interests, and in line with those they affect. Taking their money away won't do it.