Wednesday, May 25, 2016
The other day my old high school friend and fellow retiree Davis sent me the link to a very interesting article written by Nick Hanauer, a self-described member of the much-maligned "1%." The article was titled "Ultra-Rich Man’s Letter: “To My Fellow Filthy Rich Americans: The Pitchforks Are Coming;" it's a bit long, but worth the time to read and think about.
In case you don't want to read the entire article, here's a quote that sums up his theme:
"... the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution."
and here's the foot-stomp:
"... the fundamental law of capitalism must be: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators. Which means a thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around."
Conservative and libertarian commentators argue that there should be no restrictions and minimal (if any) taxes on businesses and the wealthy because they are the "job creators," but as Mr Hanauer elegantly points out, if the workers don't have enough income to buy the things the businesses produce, the businesses fail and the jobs they provide go away ... so in that sense, it's the workers who create the wealth and the jobs. An interest in balancing the economic interests of businesses and workers is not "socialism," it's common sense.
How do we balance those interests and still maintain the more-or-less laissez-faire capitalist society that is beloved of the Right and of those who've drunk that economic Kool-Aid? I don't know. But I do know, as I adapt to the economically reduced circumstances of the humble retiree, that I'm a lot more concerned about the threat posed by pitchforks and torches in the hands of the discontented than I am about the threat posed by the so-called "Islamic State."
And I think you should be, too.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.
P.S. - you may remember that economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said, "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite."