Can You Spot the Billionaire?

by Don Boudreaux on May 27, 2009

in Inequality

Nora ______ e-mailed me earlier today; she was terse: "How do you sleep at night justifying policys [sic] that make incomes more unequal???"

My first response is to say "grow up."  As long as Mr. Smith earns his income rather than steals it, Mr. Jones ought not care.  Envy is an ugly sentiment, and becomes ghastly and dangerous whenever it is manifested in government policies.

But my more measured response is here.

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Gil May 27, 2009 at 11:26 am

Why not proverbially kick her in her arse by stating "yes, some people are indeed millions of times more productive than other"? For someone to be a millionaire they run a large productive enterprise and that's a helluva lot more productive difference compared with someone barely subsisting.

Or at the very least you could used that analogy of the average Medieval schmoe and Queen Elizabeth I versus average Westerner schmoe and Queen Elizabeth II for showing real growth over inequality.

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 11:28 am

I can't read her mind, but I highly doubt envy was what was driving Nora.

I like the extended response a lot better – reminds me of the Protestant Ethic. It's the very indistinguishability (if that's a word!) of wealth differences that drives profits back into investments… or so that thesis goes.

DAVE May 27, 2009 at 11:40 am

"unwisely elevate ethereal abstractions over palpable reality."

I'm filing that one away for later.

Thanks

DAVE May 27, 2009 at 11:41 am

"I can't read her mind, but I highly doubt envy was what was driving Nora."

Then what was it?

You don't have to read her mind. Her email speaks volumes.

Methinks May 27, 2009 at 11:42 am

Twits like Nora me crazy. They look only at the product but never at what it took to produce it. Not only is the income unequal, but so is the effort to produce it.

She would never ever commit the time and energy to learn the skills and would never take the risk the billionaire took. She would never produce anything of great value, yet she either thinks that she is entitled to others' product or that others should be prevented from creating more than she does.

Ike May 27, 2009 at 11:44 am

"How do you sleep at night justifying policys [sic] that make incomes more unequal???"

Like a baby — a baby secure in the knowledge that the "poor" in a system as productive as free trade allows are better off and enjoy leisure and freedoms unimagined by the "rich" in a system of forced equality of outcome.

Gil May 27, 2009 at 11:48 am

Or to do an anti-dg lesvic:

Yes inequality will grow as one group embrace innovation, growth, technology, creative destruction, etc., and the other groups continue to subsist as their ancestors did. If one group embraces tradition, strong family, prohibitive religion, etc., in a way they embrace stasis then why should they act shocked when a foward-thinking culture grows wealthier and more unequal in living standards? After all, are there not countries or communities in countries where there has been little change for fifty or more years? In the vibrant part of the West the each decade means different norms and values (What comes to mind when you hear the '50 culture? The '60s culture? '70s? '80s?, '90s?, '00s?) In many parts of the world they're still pretty much doing what they did all along. Hence they look at the decades and think "it was pretty much the same as before except I used to young and my adult children were once babies".)

Another anology is the inequality in the structural view of the Universe. A hard-core Creationist may feel warm and fuzzy when he believes in a simple, small Universe created by God 6,000 years because that view hasn't changed since the Bible was collated and printed. A person of science, on the other hand, see the Universe getting more amazing, detailed and more mysterious as old phenomena is explained whilst new ones crop up (E.g. we now what fuels stars, what quasars are, what shape the Galaxy is, that there are more galaxies, planets, supernovae. However, now there's dark matter, dark energy, etc.).

John Dewey May 27, 2009 at 11:48 am

Daniel Kuehn; "I highly doubt envy was what was driving Nora."

I'm not sure that Don claimed that envy drove Nora. But he does imply that envy motivates some who adocate government policies which would eliminate inequality.

Do you "highly doubt" that envy drives some who favor soaking the rich?

I don't know how we could know what motivates millions of Americans. But I have met a large number of Americans who are clearly envious of the wealthy.

Martin Brock May 27, 2009 at 11:50 am

WSJ headline today: GM-Union Deal Raises U.S. Stake

But read the article under the headline, and you discover another datum. "The government's plan also calls for paying off in full GM's secured lenders, including Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. that are owed about $6 billion."

In other words, the "private sector" creditors don't want to own this company, and the "private sector" unions don't want to own it either, so taxpayers bear the risk of ownership while "private sector" capitalists (including the unions) receive whatever the company promised them before the implosion.

And what did "private sector" executives earlier receive for promising this booty to rent-seeking capitalists in the "private sector"? The world may never know.

No. Mr. Smith doesn't "steal" his income, because the rent collectors don't title his entitlements this way.

Free market capitalism is a myth. It's a rhetorical unicorn that politicians trot out when they need to apologize for their favorite title holders.

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 11:57 am

DAVE -
RE: "Then what was it?
You don't have to read her mind. Her email speaks volumes."

Probably a sense that the inequality we see is unfair, or – if not unfair, that the social consequences of inequality are somehow abhorrent. I'm just guessing on that, based on what most people talk about when they have outbursts like this. I highly doubt that envy has anything to do with it. People who criticize the rich rarely aspire to be particularly rich themselves.

I'm not agreeing with her or even sympathizing with her necessarily – I think the most important social consequence of inequality is to signal what activities society puts the most value on. I like the analogy of an airplane wing – there HAS to be inequality above and below the wing for there to be lift. Inequality drives the economy as surely as Bernouli's law drives an airplane.

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 12:01 pm

John Dewey -
RE: "Do you "highly doubt" that envy drives some who favor soaking the rich? "

Yes, I do doubt this. People who favor soaking the rich don't usually do so – I don't think – because they want to be like them… but precisely because they are disgusted with them.

RE: "I don't know how we could know what motivates millions of Americans. But I have met a large number of Americans who are clearly envious of the wealthy."

I don't know either. There are a large number of Americans who are envious of the wealthy. I am certainly envious, to a certain extent – but I don't think that is "ugly" of me at all. I'm envious because a large part of me wants to achieve wealth as well. What's wrong with that? What I'm saying is that I doubt many of those who "hate" the rich are envious of them… but I could definitely be wrong. I'm no psychologist.

John Dewey May 27, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Gil: "For someone to be a millionaire they run a large productive enterprise"

I'm sure you meant "billionaire" and not "millionaire". Amassing a million dollars of net worth is not that difficult in America. Capgemini and Merrill Lynch estimated last year that over 3 million U.S. households held financial assets which exceeded $1 million. That did not include the several million more households whose residential equity pushed them into the millionaires club. Those numbers are down temporarily, no doubt. But millionaires are still fairly common in our nation.

DAVE May 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Daniel-

"Probably a sense that the inequality we see is unfair….."

Thank you for defining envy.

The most I'll grant you is that she's being envious on behalf of someone. It's still envy whichever way you slice it…….

Taylor May 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Hey Nora,

How do you sleep at night, worrying about how unequal incomes are? Must be hard to get a night's sleep knowing that this issue never will be, can be or even should be resolved, yet it bothers you anyway!

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm

DAVE -
How is that definitive of envy?

Envy is wanting something that someone else has, right? I think "from each according to his ability to each according to his need" is "unfair", but does that mean that I'm "envious" of a proletariat revolutionary? No. I just think it's unfair.

Look – that was a tiny intro sentence. This is the second day in a row people are trying to act like I'm mounting some huge opposition to Don's post!

Your point makes no sense. Envy is not the same thing as being unfair. And honestly that was just as side comment – there's no point in duking this out. But I think you're talking nonsense for the sake of disagreeing with something I said, no matter how insignificant a point it was.

John Dewey May 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Daniel Kuehn: "I am certainly envious, to a certain extent – but I don't think that is "ugly" of me at all."

I'm not positive, but I think Professor Boudreax uses a more common definition if the word "envy" than you do.

Here's a couple of definitions:

from Merriam-Webster online:

"painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage"

from The Free Dictionary:

"A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another."

Please notice that the word "resent" is present in both definitions.

I don't want to speak for Don, but for me, resentfulness is what makes "envy" an ugly sentiment.

DAVE May 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm

One more thing Daniel -

You write "People who criticize the rich rarely aspire to be particularly rich themselves."

THAT'S ENVY. They don't want to be rich themselves. They want the rich to stop being rich.

You'll notice it's never about bringing the bottom up – that would involve a little thing called capitalism which would in turn also make the rich richer which would defeat the whole purpose – it will always be bringing the top down. Always.

Martin Brock May 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

… government policies which would eliminate inequality.

Government policies typically increase inequality, but the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

DAVE May 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

why is it unfair Daniel? Think.

Methinks May 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

People who favor soaking the rich don't usually do so – I don't think – because they want to be like them… but precisely because they are disgusted with them.

In my experience, they say they don't want to "be like them", but wouldn't turn down their lifestyle either. They don't want to "be like them" in the sense that they don't want to make the effort and sacrifices necessary to create wealth. Most (not all) of these people would love to have the lifestyle and see nothing at all wrong with redistributing that wealth created by others to themselves. It's envy dressed up in a more socially acceptable package. I'm surrounded by these…um…people.

We arrived in America with the fabled clothes on our back and I lived in poverty until I began working professionally. I was always inspired by the people who create wealth and who become wealthy. I wanted to be one and I was willing to do what was necessary to earn it. That's not envy, Daniel. That's ambition. It's not ugly unless you pursue it dishonestly. According to your post, you aspire. You don't want to cut others down.

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 12:23 pm

John Dewey -

With all due respect to Webster, enough people think of "envy" as "wanting something that someone else has" without the "resentful" addendum that I think you're making a ridiculously huge deal out of one sentence I wrote.

DAVE -
RE: "You'll notice it's never about bringing the bottom up – that would involve a little thing called capitalism which would in turn also make the rich richer which would defeat the whole purpose – it will always be bringing the top down. Always."

Ummm… right. Which is why I disagree with Nora. But I don't think she wants what the rich have, that's all! She just doesn't want them to have what they have. This is getting surreal.

RE: "THAT'S ENVY. They don't want to be rich themselves. They want the rich to stop being rich."

How is that envy? That's just unalloyed resentment!

RE: "why is it unfair Daniel? Think."

It's not unfair at all (granted, I'm sure there are some unfair things built into the system… but big-picture it's not "unfair" that billionaires are billionaires). I don't think it's unfair – I'm saying that I'm assuming Nora thinks it's unfair somehow – that some people don't deserve wealth or that somehow what the rest of the world recognizes as productive activity she recognizes as being somehow unworthy. I can't read her mind – but I think that has more to do with it than her wanting what they have.

Methinks May 27, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Government policies typically increase inequality, but the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

Beautifully put, Martin.

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Methinks –
Well, we can agree to disagree on the motives of noisy, email-prone leftists, but I certainly agree with the rest of your post. I've never been under the impression that "envy" meant anything other than to covet or want what someone else has. Moses ruled against it, but I don't have a problem with it. You say "ambition", and perhaps that's a clearer way to express it – although ambition implies a drive to actually walk the walk… which goes a little further than what "envy" implies.

Regardless, one little word shouldn't drive all this.

I thought my Max Weber reference was FAR more interesting than that :)

Mark T May 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm

I'm with Taylor. How can Nora sleep at night justifying policies that make people less free, and depriving them of ever more of the fruits of their labor and learning? How can Nora sleep at night being such a busybody that she needs to impose her preferences on other adults? How is Nora's fixation on controlling other adults' economic lifestyles different from a member of the religious right seeking to control other adults' sexual lifestyles?

John Dewey May 27, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Daniel Kuehn: "enough people think of "envy" as "wanting something that someone else has" without the "resentful" addendum that I think you're making a ridiculously huge deal out of one sentence I wrote. "

I didn't make a "ridiculously huge" deal about anything, Daniel. I merely pointed out that your statement – which implied a disagreement with Don's statement – was likely the result of a different definition for a word.

Communication is difficult enough when conducted over a faceless medium such as this. Using different definitions for terms makes it even more so.

John Dewey May 27, 2009 at 12:39 pm

daniel kuehn: "enough people think of "envy" as "wanting something that someone else has" without the "resentful" addendum"

I suppose we can only hope that you will publish the "Daniel Kuehn Dictionary" very soon, so that we can better communicate with you.

MnM May 27, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Unless there was more to Nora's email, I agree with Daniel. Saying she's motivated by envy is a bad inference.

Of course, this does nothing to change the irrelevance of her outrage…

Methinks May 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Daniel,

I think the discussion moved on to our understanding of Nora's feelings which drove her to write the email. This is the natural progression since nobody disagrees that the world is equal – or even fair.

I'm saying that I'm assuming Nora thinks it's unfair somehow – that some people don't deserve wealth or that somehow what the rest of the world recognizes as productive activity she recognizes as being somehow unworthy.

This is interesting. I agree with you that this describes the feelings of a great many Noras. Before you accuse me of not understanding you, I understand that you are not expressing your belief.

To paraphrase Walter Williams, the only way to become successful in a capitalist economy is to please your fellow man. Thus, the only way these people could become wealthy is to produce something others valued. If Nora believes she knows better than thousands or millions of individuals what is valuable and what isn't, then Nora thinks she's vastly superior to everyone else. She has a God complex. She gets to decide who and what is worthy or unworthy. She knows what's fair and she will impose her vision on everyone else – against their will or not is unimportant.

Of course, life is unfair and lots of people feel that way but wouldn't subject everyone else to their vision (constrained view of the world). Nora is passionate enough about imposing her view (unconstrained) to write Don, outraged that he is unwilling to crash her version of "fair" on everyone's head.

These people don't "merely think it's unfair". They are disgusting and dangerous.

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 1:03 pm

RE: "I suppose we can only hope that you will publish the "Daniel Kuehn Dictionary" very soon, so that we can better communicate with you."

Wow – very mature. Envy means wanting what other people have… didn't realize I was so out of the mainstream on that one!

MnM -
re: "Saying she's motivated by envy is a bad inference.
Of course, this does nothing to change the irrelevance of her outrage…"

Yes – Thank you!

Methinks -
RE: " If Nora believes she knows better than thousands or millions of individuals what is valuable and what isn't, then Nora thinks she's vastly superior to everyone else. She has a God complex."

You hit the nail on the head… "fatal conceit", I believe someone once called it?

Inequality is with us and a lot of smart people seem to think it's increasing. What a lot of the research that I'm familiar with says is that most inequality has it's origin in the returns to education – that the wage premium associated with a college education is increasing rapidly, and most non-college graduates in the workforce can't easily go back and get a post-secondary degree. Rather than disparage the rich, people like Nora should think about why the demand for a college educated workforce seems to be outstripping the supply, what kind of (forgive me) "market failures" might be driving this, and what could/should be done about it. Soaking the rich may have a certain degree of pathos to it that Nora appreciates, but it's ultimately a dead end.

Lee Kelly May 27, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Some people value money more than others, and, therefore, so long as there is some remnant of liberty, some people will tend to collect more money than others.

Martin Brock May 27, 2009 at 1:25 pm

… most inequality has it's origin in the returns to education …

Education or credentials?

I read the state employee compensation has outgrown private sector compensation for decades. Should I conclude that state employees are better educated, even if they have more college degrees?

Martin Brock May 27, 2009 at 1:27 pm
DAVE May 27, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Just a quick PSA:

Envy: I don't want x to have what he has.

Jealousy: I want to have what x has.

Please do not confuse the two.

Thank you

Pingry May 27, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Excellent essay Don !

I have actually felt the same way.

As a recent graduate with a lot of debt, and underemployed in an economy suffering a rather painful recession, I still live pretty well relative to millionaires and billionaires. In fact, if we look beyond income and financial assets, I can make the case that I am living better than the vast majority of millionaires because I have much, more human capital and belong to a small class of people in society: The academics and intellectuals who are the driving force, the vanguard of knowledge and ideas, for better or worse.

A final point also. Many people have claimed that the future rise of nanotechnology may make all, or nearly all consumer goods, so cheap that their marginal cost approaches zero, similar to information technology, and are 'free' or close to it. Indeed, some commentators have even suggested that at some point, households will have a machine (the size of a vending machine, or stove, or microwave) which can create and personalize any consumer good any which way its creator desires, and in near limitless quantity. If this happens, will the demand for government to engage in income redistribution decline? Possibly, but I think that envy will always be with us, and people who have service jobs of lesser prestige may demand that government make things equal to those with service jobs of more prestige, or of those that are retired.

In any event, these visible differences should continue to decline, and with the promising rise of nanotechnology (and other, as of yet undiscovered advances) we may witness a truly awesome level of material wealth in which a 'poor' person in the future lives like a very wealthy person today.

In fact, if we can live long enough, we may be able to buy time in order to extend life spans, perhaps decades and beyond.

–Pingry

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Martin -
RE: "Education or credentials?"

Well, both. One is really a signal for the other in a lot of ways.

RE: "I read the state employee compensation has outgrown private sector compensation for decades. Should I conclude that state employees are better educated, even if they have more college degrees?"

I think the degrees and the education are hard to untangle. But to a large extent, I would guess this is right. I don't think you can necessarily conclude this – obviously the public sector is much more heavily unionized, and that has to be a big part of it. But I'd also guess that the public sector employs a higher percentage of people with a degree than the private sector. That's just a guess – probably easily refutable or verifiable.

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 1:52 pm

DAVE -
That's not the definition of envy. It's neither the technical definition (see John Dewey's legwork on that) or the working definition that most people go by.

Jealousy and envy are synonyms.

John Dewey May 27, 2009 at 2:11 pm

DAVE: "Envy: I don't want x to have what he has.

Jealousy: I want to have what x has."

Could you provide a link which validates those definitions? I have never seen those before.

I've already provided two dictionary definitions for "envy". Neither one states that a person who has envy desires that another not possess something, though that is one possible interpretation of the word "envy".

"Jealousy" is much less understood than "envy".

Accoding to Merriam-Webster:

jealous – intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness; disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness

from The Free Online Dictionary:

jealous – Fearful or wary of being supplanted; apprehensive of losing affection or position.

I cannot find the link right now, but I recently read an excellent explanation of the difference between "envy" and "jealousy". Envy has to do with resentfulness and desire for something another person possesses. Jealousy has to do with the fear and suspiciion that another person may remove something that one already possesses.

A bitter man whose dreams were unfulfilled may envy the wealth of a successful entrepreneur.

An insecure husband may be jealous over the attention his wife is receiving from another man.

Popular culture – and our education system – have begun to eliminate the distinctions between words we use. The dumbing down of our language is not as direct as Orwell had predicted, but the effect may be the same in the end.

John May 27, 2009 at 2:13 pm

My guess is Nora is among those who believe there is a static amount of wealth out there.
For someone to be rich, they must have made a bunch of people poor.
What do they call it? Zero-sum game?
So when Nora sees a rich person, in her mind she sees a thief, someone who has attained their position on the backs of poor people.
I'm not even sure these people can be reasoned with, because they themselves are not reasonable.

Seth May 27, 2009 at 2:13 pm

For those curious about how Nora can sleep at night with the policies she supports, I recommend reading Thomas Sowell's "Conflict of Visions".

K Ackermann May 27, 2009 at 2:14 pm

The challenge is finding the point of equilibrium.

There are two extremes: the first is central control and equal distribution of wealth. Incentives must be in the form of absence of punishment. Politically unsustainable.

The second extreme is unchecked free market capitalism which necessarily stratifies society into classes. Here there are competing incentives. The poorer classes are incentified to reach a higher class through hard work and creativity, while the richer classes are incentified to maximize profits.

There are two ways to maximize profits: zero-sum, or higher production. Zero sum, where one gains through another's loss is ultimately pathological, but very attractive in the short term, and therein lies the problem.

Globalization is a short-term phenomena. A trade deficit is capital flight. It is money that is taken out of the system for reinvestment. It does not start new factories here, it starts them elsewhere. No matter how cheap the imported products are, they are still prohibitively expensive for someone without income.

An extremely pathological case is where a trade imbalance is fueled by credit. Credit should only be used to fuel growth, or to buy assets who's usefulness exceeds the duration of the loan.

MnM May 27, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Daniel, actually, you and DAVE are both right.

Swing by dictionary.com and search for "envy". Each of your definitions are there, varying from each dictionary source (dictionary.com pulls from several online dictionaries).

Carl May 27, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett's partner, had a great comment on envy.

“Envy is a really stupid sin because it’s the only one you could never possibly have any fun at. There’s a lot of pain and no fun. Why would you want to get on that trolley?”

dg lesvic May 27, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Everyone here except Martin Brock, of all people, and Methinks has missed the point: taking from the rich to give to the poor cannot reduce but only increase inequality.

Αμάτι Nώνυμος May 27, 2009 at 2:34 pm

What a beautiful exposé of the marginal propensity to consume :
"
poor Filipinos wore clothing that, even in a snapshot, was clearly inferior to the clothing worn by Filipinos of greater
"

Poorer nations do return money to its proper velocity faster than wealthier nations. Would you imagine that when they still used our greenback our Filipino Cousins were more affluent, dressed more equally? Should we have sent Emilio Aguinaldo to Colombia University?

Naaaaaa
!

"
Ab initio radix tristium est cupiditas. Invidiam ob intra absit.
"
That said, redistribution of wealth is a handy tool for rebooting money velocity. Careful to not use such a tool prematurely, lest you prolong the descending leg of the sinusoidal curve thus cutting deeper into the souls of the disenfranchised. Wait until the free market finds its hideous bottom when you can suddenly appear from your hero's phone-booth dressed in your Patek Filipe Segundo watch and new imperial clothing, extra sheer. But when you use your monetary silver bullet, please. Do not call it return of the stolen retirement money. Just call it Charity.

Thanks for listening to the good news. Tune in again tomorrow for the bad news.

Have a smiley day!

<[ ; o )

Daniel Kuehn May 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm

MnM -
RE: "Daniel, actually, you and DAVE are both right. "

Don't tell HIM that!!!! Geez!!!!

dg lesvic -
Re: "Everyone here except Martin Brock, of all people, and Methinks has missed the point: taking from the rich to give to the poor cannot reduce but only increase inequality."

It was only a matter of time :)

A Note From Underground May 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Envy, as the animating principle of egalitarianism, must necessarily contain an element of resentment.

By nature, people are unequal. Cast a glance over your fellow man and you will see at once, unless you are an obscurantist, that this must be so. Some are more intelligent, more athletic, better looking, had more nurturing parents, etc., than others. This will generally translate directly into greater productive capacity. And as a man has a natural right to the whole product of his labor (under a labor theory of property and a subjective theory of value, of course), this inequality of the gifts bestowed by nature must of necessity result in inquality of income and wealth.

No action can be just which seeks to equalize wealth levels through government action, i.e., force. For justice is merely the rendering to another his due, i.e., his right. As one cannot speak properly of justice without right, neither can one speak of right without property. And where force is involved, it is absurd to speak of consent because the would render the use of force sperfluous.

It is imminently just and virtuous to divest one's self of one's property when moved by the pitiful condition of one less fortunate than he. It is charity, which must be knowing and voluntary. But to take from one without his consent to give to another is neither just nor virtuous, but rather crime and, therefore, injustice. Not only does it rob him of his property, but demoralizes him by preventing the practice of thhe habit of charity. And so the coercive transfer of wealth cannot have justice as its basis. Only resentment can motivate such an act.

For an excellent treatment of the relationship betweem free will, justice and resentment in the modern age, I highly recommend the first part of Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground".

dg lesvic May 27, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Daniel,

You wrote, in reference to my posting:

"It was only a matter of time :) "

Not always, for you can lead a libertarian to victory, but you can't make the jackass drink.

MnM May 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Everyone here except Martin Brock, of all people, and Methinks has missed the point: taking from the rich to give to the poor cannot reduce but only increase inequality.

Posted by: dg lesvic | May 27, 2009 2:28:30 PM

That is your point, not Don's.

Don't tell HIM that!!!! Geez!!!!

Sorry, I'm the Jerry Springer of blog commenting. ;o)

muirgeo May 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Can I Spot the Billionaire?

Yeah he's the one who ran Enron and robbed my state of billions off dollars, he's the one who lobby's for all sorts of govenment monies that are paid for by the taxpayer, he's the one who has profited from one banking scandal and leveraged buy-out after the next. He's the one who sets the rules and breaks the rules and comes up with complex schemes to take the money out of homes and cities and states.

Today three schools in my home city are being shut down. The billionaire and the utlitarian economist are the ones who just don't give a care if the world returns to a sad storybook as written by Charles Dickens because for some warped reason that liberty and justice as seen through their eyes.

Speaking of Dickens,

"Utilitarian economists, skeletons of schoolmasters, Commissioners of Fact, genteel and used up infidels, gabblers of many little dog's eared creeds the poor you will have always with you. Cultivate in them while there is yet time the utmost graces of the fancies and affections to adorn their lives so much in need of ornament or in the day of your triumph when romance is utterly driven out of their souls and they and a bare existence stand face to face, reality will take a wolfish turn and make an end of you"

K Ackermann May 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Resentment will substitute for justice if an injustice is left to stand.

Resentment works by lowering the status of someone else, not by raising own status.

It works in funny ways, though. If Scooter Libby served time for his crime, then I would be inclined to help him if given the opertunity. Because he was pardoned, an action not directly in his control, I'd be more inclined to spit on him if given the opertunity.

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