Saturday, January 4, 2014

Left for Dead

See this quote from the Global View opinion piece Obama's Envy Problem by Bret Stephens in the 31 December 2013 edition of the Wall Street Journal:
"Besides which, so what [if the top fifth takes in over half the aggregate income]? In 1979 the mean household income of the bottom 20% was $4,006. By 2012, it was $11,490. That's an increase of 186%. For the middle class, the increase was 211%. For the top fifth it's 320%. The richer have outpaced the poorer in growing their incomes, just as runners will outpace joggers who will, in turn, outpace walkers. ... 
"As it is, to whom except the envious should it matter that the boss now makes a lot more, provided you, too, also make more? ..."
Sorry, Mr. Stephens. This is not Obama's envy problem, this is your math problem. You looked at a snapshot of relative incomes today and said they were fine, but you did not consider the trend. It is not so much where income inequality is now, it is where it is going. Even if relative incomes are acceptable now, they will become worse unless something stops the trend. Your "who cares?" attitude means that no one need come to you for a solution.

The top fifth already makes about seven times what the bottom fifth makes. If the trend continues, that will become ten times, then 100 times, then 1,000 times, and so on. Is that still OK? How about when the multiplier is a million or a billion? And what is there in capitalist theory to stop the trend? Nothing. That is why it is important. It may not matter very much if our bosses makes seven times what we do, Mr. Stephens, but it will if they make a million times what we do. The whole economic system will break down. We will stop being a capitalist democracy and become a plutocracy. has a solution for this problem. The underlying issue is that, using Mr. Stephens' metaphor, we compel the walkers and joggers to compete for their lives against the runners. Then capitalism encourages the runners to leave everyone else for dead. So much for the idea that letting everyone work for their own selfish ends is good for society. That principle works well in situations where it possibly can work, but at some level of income inequality, it does not work at all.

In fact it is exploitative, oppressive, and cruel to force people to compete for their lives when they cannot win. That has been's major point all along. Walkers should only have to compete against other walkers and joggers only against other joggers. Sure, let the runners take the biggest prizes, but do not let them take all the prizes.

As it stands now, the system does not even recognize that some people are life's walkers and others are life's joggers. The government tries to fix this perverse nature of the system by taxing away some of the runners' prizes and giving them to the others. However, we think it would be even better to have a system that is not perverse by nature, but is designed to work properly in the first place.

On the other side of capitalism, therefore, the government would set up different competitions and apportion the prizes between them. There would be a competition for walkers, a different one for joggers, and yet another one for runners. It would not be possible for runners to win all the races. All the competitions would be, for lack of a better word, competitive. That way all types of competitors could survive and no one would be left for dead. Support

The way capitalism should be.

Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.

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