Some of the super-rich

by Russ Roberts on October 6, 2011

in Uncategorized

In my twitter feed, some of the same people who mindlessly bash the super-rich are praising Steve Jobs. It’s important to make distinctions.

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Daniel Kuehn October 6, 2011 at 8:02 am

Or perhaps what you previously counted as “mindless bashing” wasn’t mindless and perhaps wasn’t even really “bashing”.

Honestly I’ve been shocked to see how politicized Jobs’s death has been this morning. If we’ve come to the point where you find it ironic or surprising the people are lamenting the loss of a great innovator, that’s unfortunate.

SweetLiberty October 6, 2011 at 10:23 am

Russ doesn’t find it surprising “people are lamenting the loss of a great innovator”, he finds it hypocritical that those who demonize the “super-rich” are now sad over the death of one of those “super-rich”. They should be celebrating that fact that finally, the government will be able to get their hands on a portion of Steve Job’s undeserved wealth via the death tax! Taking money from the “super-rich” and putting it into the hands of “the people” by benevolent politicians is what many liberals want. So, why the crocodile tears?

Daniel Kuehn October 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

OK – did you read my comment at all? Maybe Russ is misunderstanding how people critique the super-rich, and maybe this isn’t as ironic/contradictory as he makes it out to be.

re: “They should be celebrating that fact that finally, the government will be able to get their hands on a portion of Steve Job’s undeserved wealth via the death tax!”

First – this sentiment is a sick way to react to Jobs’s death. But it also illustrates that you don’t really understand where people are coming from either.

re: “Taking money from the “super-rich” and putting it into the hands of “the people” by benevolent politicians is what many liberals want. So, why the crocodile tears?”

Many people want equity to be an important social goal. Many of the super-rich agree on this. What is wrong is to interpret this as some sort of enmity towards profit-seeking, towards the rich, towards innovation, etc. Fabricating that enmity is wrong at any time, but it’s especially disappointing at a time like this to use Jobs’s death as a political bludgeon. That’s no way to memorialize this great man.

SweetLiberty October 6, 2011 at 11:11 am

Maybe Russ is misunderstanding how people critique the super-rich, and maybe this isn’t as ironic/contradictory as he makes it out to be.

And maybe it is exactly as ironic/contradictory as he makes it out to be. In this instance, I think Russ has the correct interpretation and you are misguided.

this sentiment is a sick way to react to Jobs’s death.

The death tax is a sick way to react to anybodies death. Yet, many – especially liberals – support it.

What is wrong is to interpret this as some sort of enmity towards profit-seeking, towards the rich…

Wow, if you are really in such a bubble that you’ve never heard the likes of Muirgeo or other liberals rail against the “super-rich” and greedy profit-seeking, I can’t help you.

SweetLiberty October 6, 2011 at 11:12 am

On second thought, maybe I can help you. Rent a Michael Moore movie.

The Other Eric October 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm

You wrote, “If we’ve come to the point where you (Russ) find it ironic or surprising the (sic) people are lamenting the loss of a great innovator, that’s unfortunate.”

Russ finds it ironic that many of the same dolts who rail with venomous envy against the super-rich are now praising a member of the super-rich.

You suggest, that this envy-laden, and hideously simple-minded criticism wasn’t “mindless and perhaps wasn’t even really “bashing”. Really?

When is suggesting that government sanction and force be used to limit wealth and income every just? Through what criteria is taking the legal earnings and property of a person, a community, or an ethnic group ethical or just?

Observer October 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm

The Other Eric—I prefer to call you Eric the Freerider

Through what criteria is taking the legal earnings and property of a person, a community, or an ethnic group ethical or just?

let us just count the ways

1) The Elizabeth Warren way: your factory is serviced by our roads, bridges, ports and airports

2) University President’s way. Our state’s taxpayers paid for 75% of the costs of educating your best employee, Bill (Bill paid the rest), so that he would have the skills you need for your company to succeed. Without those skills, Bill would create no value for you. With those skills (toward which you paid nothing), Bill wrote software on which you earned $X last year. We want some part of $X so that next year we can educate Sue and train her to become your employee, repeating the same cycle.

I could go on, but you already know I am right

IOW, no one makes it on their own. All you want Eric is a Free Ride

Ken October 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm

O,

How is the Other Eric a freeloader? He paid taxes too. If he is a success entrepreneur who built a factory he has most certainly paid more taxes, proportional to his income, than the average tax payer. When you say “your factory is serviced by our roads, bridges, ports and airports” (emphasis added) your basic assumption is that the word “our” explicitly excludes the largest contributors to tax revenues in the country.

The reality is that anyone could have built a factory that is serviced by these products that everyone, particularly the person responsible for actually building the factory, since high earners pay disproportionately more in taxes, but didn’t. Now that a person actually built a factory and paid a lot of taxes all ready, making him more responsible for the production of roads, bridges, ports and airports than most, you want to say that he’s a freeloader? Do you even understand what that words means?

Regards,
Ken

sandre October 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Observer,

I am sure you will like this article.

http://mises.org/daily/5699/Elizabeth-Warrens-Blank-Check

Observer October 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm

sandre

your link is just more selfishness and greed, claiming to be a philosophy

The writer claims there is no social contract.

Go to any National Cemetery and you will see thousands of white stones marking the social contract on which this Country was built

go to any Battle Ground (Shiloh is near me), walk that ground and tell the ghosts you meet there is no social contract,

or visit my father’s grave, whom I never knew (WWII), and tell him there is no social contract.

look in the mirror. you are a selfish, greedy caricature of a what person ought to be

sandre October 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Looks like social contract has been a good source of revenue for the undertakers.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Sandre,

LIKE!

vikingvista October 7, 2011 at 3:37 am

“The writer claims there is no social contract.”

It’s not just a claim, but simple and obvious fact. A contract is an agreement. Nobody who did not explicitly agree to it can be said to have engaged in a contract. And I know that I, for one, was never even asked if I wanted to agree. I doubt you were either.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm

How do you know that the so-called beneficiaries of those wonderful involuntary government services haven’t in fact OVERPAID for them? And if they overpaid, who’s the free rider then?

Observer October 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm

how do you know they haven’t underpaid

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Ah! So you admit that you can’t determine whether they overpaid or underpaid! So now maybe you’ll stop making the unfounded assumption of underpayment.

Although I don’t expect you to understand, it is easy to determine precisely by how much taxpayers overpaid. That number is 100.000%.

The Other Eric October 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm

While others have addressed parts of this let me assure you there is nothing free in my riding. I pay local, state, and federal income taxes. I pay local and state property taxes. I pay local and state sales taxes. State corporate taxes and federal FICA. PLUS I pay a fee for my license plates, taxes on fuel, and taxes on the electrical, natural gas, cable, water, and sewage service I use.

You refused to offer criteria for why I pay these.

At what point do they stop being my fair share, as Ms. Warren suggests, and they become distribution to others who do not pay as much? I am happy to pay for services– I do all the time. But while I know what my criteria are for infrastructural services and I have a good idea of what the basis (the financial tax term, not the generic ‘basis’) for social cohesion is, I am curious why you avoided trying to define it.

The Other Eric October 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

It must be nice to “know” you’re right. I labor under no such delusional reasoning.

If you think it’s always just to take legal earnings and property, to no limit, then why don’t we just tax the greedy (fill-in-the-blank ethnic group or racial stereotype)? Why don’t we go further and kill them, then appropriate their property for state purposes?

Maybe that example, while logical, is too extreme for you. So draw a line for me.

Through what criteria is taking the legal earnings and property of a person, a community, or an ethnic group ethical or just?

vikingvista October 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm

A slave’s liability has to exceed his benefit before his master would consider destroying his resource.

sandre October 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Irony is that neither Apple nor Steve Jobs personally was involved in charitable giving – not to the extend demand by the “corporate social responsibility” movement. Surprisingly lefties are not up in arms against Apple like the way they usually are to the most successful companies their respective industries – like the Walmarts, Exxons, McDonalds, Goldmans etc.

Irony is in the fact that Steve Jobs might even have been a closet Ayn Randian – yes that literary figure that raises the blood pressure of any living, breathing progressive.

http://www.theatlasphere.com/metablog/1325.php

Economiser October 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Jobs managed to maintain counterculture branding while building the biggest company in the country. Now that’s marketing!

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 4:59 pm

You mean regressive.

Jo October 6, 2011 at 8:25 am

..or perhaps there’s ‘deserving’ super rich (innovator) and there’s ‘undeserving’ super rich (bank CEO).

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 8:26 am

Yeah, you have to keep your scapegoats straight.

Ken October 6, 2011 at 8:47 am

Welcome to the Nation of Men.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I wonder if there is even one single bank CEO anywhere in this country who earned what he has. What do you think?

Observer October 6, 2011 at 7:44 pm

but for BBT, I don’t believe any of the 25 largest banks would have survived but for TARP, etc., so cast out those CEOs to start.

As for the rest, but for deposit insurance, they would have all shut down.

IOW, bankers are not really entitled to their incomes or profits.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm

There is really nothing more irrelevant than what you “believe”. Leverage that.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 11:09 pm

“I don’t believe any of the 25 largest banks would have survived but for TARP, etc.”

Government action. How about casting out the government from banking?

“But for deposit insurance”

Government action. How about calling for its elimination? Somehow I think banks will be around whether governments control them or not.

All of your complaints are against what government has done, and yet, you find it appropriate to ignore the perpetrators and punish those who obeyed the men with guns. Tell you what. If you are ever drafted into the military, and made to shoot and kill an enemy soldier, I will let the authorities know that you want to be tried for first degree murder. Don’t claim that you were only following the law, or acting under duress. Those defenses are only for those who recognize their existence.

Steve_0 October 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

I can’t think of a better example of a real life Randian hero. He was as close to Howard Roark or Hank Reardon as anyone I can think of. To say that something should be distributed, you must first admit that it is created. Steve Jobs created wealth. And I believe he did it by creating the products *HE* wanted to use tomorrow.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm

He seems to be the perfect example of a supplier creating demand.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 11:02 am

I come out here and read this stuff and usually don’t have much to say. Sometimes it is interesting sometimes not.

But this is stupid. First, Jobs gave alot of $$$ to the DNC so he probably was a progressive democrat. So I presume he did not mind having a higher marginal tax than people less off than he.

More importantly, let me explain to you, as an unapologetic liberal, we do not hate the super rich.Nor are we jealous of their lifestyles. Nor do we dislike the products and services they create. We love them. And hope they do more. BUT…..

We would like a little more accountability. When a CEO does a poor job he may or may not get fired. But so what if he does. He still comes out a millionaire. Poor performance for most Americans means something. Real pain to families and communities. And hell, how many people lose their jobs because of downsizing, not because of poor performance. When one day you make 50k and the next you are out of a job, there is a slim margin of error before you are on the streets and completely bust. And research shows this type of chock to family wealth lasts two generations so the kids are hit as well. But, screw ‘em right? If their parents weren’t such lazy good for nothing garbage then they would not be in this predicament, right?

This weird Randian crapola about the rich being superhuman and the rest of the world being parasitic is a sociopathic way of thinking that shows such little empathy or regard for other people. It is amazing.

g-dub October 6, 2011 at 11:18 am

We would like a little more accountability.

Like in guvmint skools and car companies with high union membership, for example?

When a CEO does a poor job he may or may not get fired.

It isn’t only CEO’s, little man.

He still comes out a millionaire.

See? You are envious.

And hell, how many people lose their jobs because of downsizing, not because of poor performance.

So? Life is hard. Learn it. Live it.

When one day you make 50k and the next you are out of a job, there is a slim margin of error before you are on the streets and completely bust.

Maybe buy one less flatscreen, a smaller house, a cheaper car. Maybe invest in one’s skill capital, help avoid or mitigate changes. You know, spend less time sitting on one’s fat ass watching sunday football, and start hedging against uncertainty. Grow up, iow. But mostly, stop voting for statists and many of these problems will shake themselves out.

boo-hoo, losers.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm

And thus speaks a sociopath. The answer to chronic unemployment is:

A – you are a loser.

B – don’t buy stuff

C – you suck

D – don’t vote for statists (whatever that means)

Sigh. It really is amazing that guys like this show NO empathy. Just a great big FU. And, that is one of the traits of a sociopath.

The Other Eric October 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Don, your tone and style suck. Then, when someone in a public blog reacts, like g-dub, you feign shock? Don’t be so passive aggressive, and never assume that calling someone a sociopath will lead you to wisdom and insight.

After you use the term “we,” you made several logical errors based on what “we” think is fair, and what “we” think others should act and behave like. American liberal Democrats are supporting a statist approach to economic activity. It doesn’t work. It never worked. I have empathy for people for a large number of reasons, but I have no desire for state-directed empathy.

There is not a “slim margin” for the vast majority of the population. Look at the small number of homeless and other extreme poverty measures in a nation of 320 million after three years of recession. It’s terrible, but it’s a small number of people. We are living in horrendous economic times, according to you, but the household average income has barely slipped while lifespan continues to increase and material goods flood the market.

Yes, times are tough, but don’t exaggerate them based on outrage you hear on MSNBC.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm

And just for the record. This fella thinks that 6 million Americans are lazy garbage who watch football all day.

And that they suck.

And that they are losers.

http://www.economist.com/node/21531005

Wow – I am sure there are some of the 6 million that fit the stereotype but I doubt that 6 million do.

Now, I call this guy a sociopath not as an ad hominem attack. But lack of empathy is one of the major signs exhibited by a sociopath. I am not sure if he exhibits all of them, but he has sure taken a huge step down that road.

So for the sake of clarity, I think I’ll call him semi-sociopath.

SweetLiberty October 6, 2011 at 11:34 am

It is amazing.

As is your misinterpretation of how real wealth and jobs are created.

We would like a little more accountability

Who is “we”? Are you a shareholder? Do you sit on the board of directors? If so, then you can help define precisely how much accountability you demand from a CEO. Or are you one of many employees who was grateful to originally get hired and now think the company that hired you owes you a living? Sorry, doesn’t work like that. Business doesn’t exist for the benefit of its employees – business exists for the benefit of its consumers.

And hell, how many people lose their jobs because of downsizing…

Many. So what? If you owned a business and you couldn’t afford to maintain your current level of operations, what would you do? Businesses don’t downsize because of lack of “empathy or regard for other people”, they downsize to stay competitive. If your family brings in less money each month and “downsize” by trimming vacations, entertainment, eating out, etc., are you guilty of lacking “empathy or regard” for the businesses that you would otherwise have frequented had your income stayed the same? Of course not.

Employment is a byproduct of healthy business which thrives in a healthy economy – not the reason for business. When you understand this, you will understand the message of Ayn Rand.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Sigh again!!!

As a fully employed person in the top 10 percent of earners in this country I think I understand what creating jobs means. My point is not that business should not fire workers in a downturn. Of course they have to. My point is that the rich feel no pain at all. There is nothing that can affect them.

Let’s take a look at this guy who I guess was pretty bad at his job:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/09/meg-whitman-gets-hp-stock-options-leo-apotheker-walks-with-millions.html

Key quote if you cannot link:

“Apotheker, who presided over a nearly 40% decline in the price of HP stock, is walking away with a $7.2 million cash severance, as well as a $2.4 million annual bonus and $3.5 million in stock.”

Am I jealous of his money? NOPE!!!

Am I jealous of a no lose proposition? YEP?

It ain’t the money that bugs me. It is the rules. Do a crappy job, mess up big time and come out a millionaire. How about this, he oversaw a huge loss of wealth. How about he goes home a pauper.

So again, do we hate millionaires. No. But let’s not whine about guys who feel no pain regardless of how well they do or don’t do. Other people are really feeling pain in a very serious way. And glib little FUs to them does not help.

Economiser October 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm

> How about this, he oversaw a huge loss of wealth. How about he goes home a pauper.

So basically you’re arguing against the concept of corporate limited liability. The company goes south and someone, somewhere (it’s not clear who since the company is solvent), has the right to go after the CEO for his personal assets (including, in this case, fully paid and vested compensation). Good luck raising capital and hiring qualified labor.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I was being sarcastic. I know you cannot get the money back. Don’t get too literal. Just saying, screw u when you got $$ and nothing happens. Hit a bad bit of luck and you an average joe, it gets hairy.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Hit a bad bit of luck and you an average joe, it gets hairy.

What are you talking about?

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I ask again…if you royally mess up in your job, do you expect your pay to be clawed back?

Are you a shareholder of HP? If not, this is none of your business. You can’t command such a pay package. Oh well. Most of us can’t. But, the owners of HP decided to offer one to Apotheker. Why? I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s none of my business and none of yours.

g-dub October 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm

My point is that the rich feel no pain at all.

You are full of envy.

But let’s not whine about guys who feel no pain regardless of how well they do or don’t do.

Nobody is, Straw King.

Stone Glasgow October 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Why do you think this is any of your business? What the hell? If I hire a man to run my company and decide it’s not working out, should you decide on his severance package?

Sam Grove October 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

First, Jobs gave alot of $$$ to the DNC so he probably was a progressive democrat.

Maybe that’s why he was left alone by the political class.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm

“This weird Randian crapola about the rich being superhuman and the rest of the world being parasitic”

I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything Rand ever published, most of it heavily annotated by me. I have no idea where you get that stuff. I recommend you read _The Fountainhead_ or _Atlas Shrugged_. Both contradict what you wrote. She’s not subtle, so I don’t think you’ll struggle with it.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Well… I won’t spend too much time quibbling here. Let’s turn the mic over to Howard Roarke in The Fountainhead

“Nothing is given to man on earth. Everything he needs has to be produced. And here man faces his basic alternative: he can survive in only one of two ways – by the independent work of his own mind or as a parasite fed by the minds of others. The creator originates. The parasite borrows. The creator faces nature alone. The parasite faces nature through an intermediary. ”

Got it!!!! If you ain’t a “creator” then you are a “parasite”. Most of us are not Steven Jobs and do not make that much so I guess we count as parasites.

And it is only a stretch to say, hey parasite, I am going to treat you like garbage. Which is sociopathic. So Rand didn’t go all the way, but she gave you guys a nice big push.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

So…where in that quote do you see reference to “the rich” or “superhuman”? Where is the reference to treating people, even parasites, “like garbage”? Your interpretation, and that quote, bear no resemblance whatsoever.

Your reading comprehension is atrocious. Perhaps if you read the whole book, it would help you. Or if you are short on time, read some of her essays. Apparently a very poorly informed individual told you what Rand believed. Do yourself a favor, and read her for yourself. I’m not saying you will agree with her, but you certainly will realize that your current characterization is way off. Like I said, she is not subtle.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Hey – Read my post again. I said that she did not go all they way. She set up a dichotomy of parasites and creators. From there it is only a minor stretch to degrade the “parasites”. And don’t be silly, every word she wrote was a celebration of the the rich (which in a real sense should be celebrated, but not at the expense of human dignity).

Let me turn the mic over to one of your own – David Brooks:

http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/10/05/reviews/971005.05brookst.html

From the beginning of her career, when she was a screenwriter of silent films for Cecil B. DeMille, to her death in 1982, she was a combatant in her own version of class warfare: ”The actual performance of men in society is a constant, fierce, undefined struggle between the genius and the parasite. . . . The genius must have his freedom and his independence. . . . But he is crippled, hobbled, tied, held back constantly by the encroachments and restrictions of the parasites who get their unearned sustenance from him.” The pesky parasites, in her view, had invented religion (”the great poison of mankind”), family life (”dull, petty, purposeless”), compassion and generosity to skim off the fruits of the great achievers like Rand herself.

My my my….. that pesky thing called family life. Yuck!! Vikingvista – I hope you have no family as that CLEARLY puts you in the parasite category.

And compassion? For weasels and parasites. I think every Catholic I ever met falls into this category.

Generosity? For the suckers.

Now, as for atrocious reading…. perhaps a look in the mirror?

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 5:30 pm

“I said that she did not go all they way. She set up a dichotomy of parasites and creators. From there it is only a minor stretch to degrade the “parasites”.”

She didn’t even go part of the way. And “minor stretch” is the understatement of the decade. Do you not dichotomize good and bad behavior? Perpetrators vs. victims? How exactly to you manage political argument at all?

“”The actual performance of men in society is a constant, fierce, undefined struggle between the genius and the parasite. . . . The genius must have his freedom and his independence. . . . But he is crippled, hobbled, tied, held back constantly by the encroachments and restrictions of the parasites who get their unearned sustenance from him.””

Where is this Rich vs poor crap you keep concocting? Instead of advocating treating people “like garbage”, she’s clearly advocating that people STOP being treated like garbage. Do you even know what “parasite” means?

Read the quotes that you are posting. Your claims are completely made up, and utterly inconsistent with them.

I’ll never understand how people manage to interpret Rand 180 degrees from the bludgeoning of words she places in her writing. I can only believe that interpretations such as yours are completely second hand. For your own good, stop posting on this matter, until you read her directly. There’s plenty of room for criticism, but you haven’t come anywhere near it.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I guess all I can say is, if I misinterpret her, so does David Brooks. And he is one of yours.

Don’t just get mad at me. Write Brooks a letter.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Except he didn’t! You radically seem to misinterpret everything you read. It is astounding.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Jesus man… you cannot be this stupid.

“The pesky parasites, in her view, had invented religion (”the great poison of mankind”), family life (”dull, petty, purposeless”), compassion and generosity to skim off the fruits of the great achievers like Rand herself. ”

What is there to screw up. She had a very negative view of those who valued family life according to Brooks. My guess is she felt that people who liked family life made a trade-off for productive work and she thought that was parasitic in some sense. That is just a guess. I am not sure. But this is a quote from Brooks. It is not me saying it. It is Brooks. I put the quote right there.

What the hell. Just cause you read a couple of books does not mean you understand the full philosophy of objectivism and her thoughts in total.

And the real danger of Rand is that she is used by people to pretend that somehow or other we could not survive without them. The Wizards owner just said something dumb about “Carrying this country on his back” or some such idiocy.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 6:18 pm

“The pesky parasites, in her view, had invented religion (”the great poison of mankind”), family life (”dull, petty, purposeless”), compassion and generosity to skim off the fruits of the great achievers like Rand herself. ”

So now you want to divert this discussion into a one about religion? Is that your problem? You blindly commit wholesale misinterpretations of Rand because she offends you with her militant antimysticm? Seriously, having never read her, how would you even know? Fine. But how about you manage to provide an iota of support for your last claim first…

Now for the last time, where is the reference to “the rich”, “superhuman”, or treating people “like garbage”? If you can’t put up, them shut up and stop wasting my time. Quotes need to support your claims, not have no relation to them. You are the perfect example of someone who needs to read more and comment less. I recommend, clearly for your first time, that you start with Rand herself.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Good Lord.

Everyone who is employed by Steve Jobs is part of the creative process. What kind of psycho wouldn’t understand that she’s talking about the difference between people who work and people who expect to be kept in the lifestyle to which they think they have a right by others? Rand was never against helping people who needed a hand.

Seriously, your liberal use of the accusation of “sociopath” suggests you’re projecting.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I agree, everyone in the employ of Steve Jobs is a creator. And so are janitors. And so are teachers. And so are garbage men. I am not sure I have ever heard one of them say, I have a right to a Maserati. I certainly have none and make no bones about it. Don’t even want one.

I’ll say it again for those who cannot understand simple English.

People like me admire rich people greatly. Especially guys like Jobs. So the post above is really silly. We (most of us anyway) don’t hate the rich. You are pushing an emotion on us that does not exist. Saying they should pay a marginally higher taxes and live under the same set of rules as the rest of us (and you are completely delusional if you think they do) is not the same as hating the rich. That is just too broad a statement.

And again, if you read Rands books and stopped and never read or heard any of her lectures, then you have not understood what she is actually trying to say. Brooks is right. Her view of parasites is very wide and encompasses a lot of people. Probably even you if you like family life.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm

“And so are janitors. And so are teachers. And so are garbage men.”

At the very least, look up a synopsis of _Atlas Shrugged_, and its list of good guys, and tell me they are all Rich. Do the same for the bad guys, and tell me they are all poor.

You quite simply have no idea what you are talking about.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I am not sure I have ever heard one of them say, I have a right to a Maserati.

I’ve never heard anyone say they have a right to a Maserati. Who is it you’ve heard say that?

We (most of us anyway) don’t hate the rich.

You keep asserting that while at the same time providing evidence that you actually do. Moreover, when were you elected to speak for all lefties?

g-dub October 6, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Got it!!!! If you ain’t a “creator” then you are a “parasite”. Most of us are not Steven Jobs and do not make that much so I guess we count as parasites.

You’re borderline ___, dude.

You have a cartoon understanding of people. Many, and maybe most, people are creative in their “little jobs.” They figure out their own way of getting things done, and how to improve things. They might not have the ideas others notice. So what. Stop denigrating the ideas and accomplishments of the “little people.”

Don B October 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Viking-vista – you are flaming nut!!

I had no intention and have none now to bring this to a discussion of religion. It was part of the quote made by Brooks. So let me leave you with something from Reason Magazine (A LIBERTARIAN MAGAZINE FOR CHRISSAKES) as I am not going to quote the whole damn book at you.

http://reason.com/archives/2005/03/01/ayn-rand-at-100

“In her 1964 Playboy interview Rand flatly declared that it was “immoral” to place family ties and friendship above productive work; in her fiction, family life is depicted as a stifling, soul-killing, mainly feminine swamp.”

Also this:

“Politically, too, Rand’s insistence on de-emphasizing, or even denigrating, family, community, and private charity is not a particularly clever tactic for capitalism’s defenders. These are the very institutions that can be expected, in the absence of a massive welfare state, to meet those human needs that people prove unable to satisfy through the market. Rand did claim to be in favor of “benevolence,” in contrast to altruism; but it would be fruitless to look for providers of private charitable aid among her “good guys,” except for those who lend a helping hand to a friend. When charity is mentioned in Rand’s fiction, it is nearly always in a negative context. In The Fountainhead, the chorus of “second-handers” eager to condemn her heroic, individualist architect protagonist, Howard Roark, include “the society woman dressing for a charity bazaar” who uses charity as an excuse to flaunt her virtue; in Atlas Shrugged, a club providing shelter to needy young women is mocked for offering help to unworthy sufferers such as drinkers, dope users, and unwed mothers-to-be.”

Now this ties to her views of who is parasitic and not which is what Brooks wrote (and it ain’t my fault if you can’t read a simple passage better). And her view of parasites is wide. And if you do not think that she is creating a superior and inferior set of people then you have lost sight of who this woman is and what she stands for.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 11:33 pm

“It was part of the quote made by Brooks”

My question is when the hell are you going to get around to supporting the quotes made by YOU? Apparently never. Rand’s quotes don’t support your ‘rich vs poor’ and ‘treat people like garbage’ crap, and neither do Brooks’s. There is NOTHING there. Even a left-wing literature professor would be hard-pressed to find a way to pass you.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 4:36 pm

We would like a little more accountability. When a CEO does a poor job he may or may not get fired.

I’d like some accountability too. I’d like to be able to fire a shit teacher in NYC and I’d like that firing to cost less than six figures and take less than five years.

If you screw something up in doing your job, you may or may not be fired. If you keep screwing up, you will be, but you usually don’t get fired right away.

If a CEO needs firing, that’s not up to “we” unless “we” happen to be the shareholders. Shareholders have two ways to fire a CEO – either appeal to the board, or dumpt the stock.

But so what if he does. He still comes out a millionaire.

If you are fired by your employer, do you expect him to claw back what he’s paid you over the years?

None of what you wrote has anything to do with Rand or lack of empathy on anyone’s part but yours. You’re the one who has divided the world into evil businesses and CEOs who should be held to an impossible standard and everyone else who should be held to a much lower standard.

But, consider this: if you are an investor in a business, are you willing to earn a zero or negative return in order not to lay anyone off? Does the CEO have the right to force you to accept losses in order to never fire anyone?

Management’s responsibility is not to the employees. It is to shareholders and screwing shareholders hurts them.

It is you who is engaged in sociopathic thinking.

Economiser October 6, 2011 at 4:55 pm

> But, consider this: if you are an investor in a business, are you willing to earn a zero or negative return in order not to lay anyone off? Does the CEO have the right to force you to accept losses in order to never fire anyone?

To take this a step further, a company today has every right to adopt these sorts of policies. A public company could adopt a policy that it will never lay off anyone, even if that means their profit margin takes a hit. And the shareholders will sell if they don’t like that (or buy if they do), and the stock’s valuation will reflect it.

Contrast this with Don B’s scenario. In Don B’s world of forced CEO clawbacks, a company would NOT have the right to pay its management what it wants, because some busybody like Don B could step in and say they’re overpaying and demand a clawback.

This is a microcosm of the statist/libertarian divide. The statist can exist in a libertarian world, but the libertarian would not be allowed to exist in a statist world. This is force versus liberty.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Well said.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 5:36 pm

I would like to fire shit teachers in NYC also. And in DC. And in Philly or wherever else they exist. How did we get onto teachers anyway?

My point is that, although we respect the accomplishments of the rich (and we really do admire most rich people – especially those that started with nothing). What I want you to understand is that, as you get richer, your exposure to risk is reduced to almost nothing. And that is life. I get it. But really, millions in severance pay for failure. You cannot go back and get previous pay, but why the millions? How about just a gold watch and a thanks.

But listen to ole G-dub. If you are unemployed, you are

1 – a loser

2 – lazy

3 – you suck

4 – get a job.

Now his contention is that there are 6 million of these you suck losers out there. Lack of empathy for people is a sign of sociopathic behavior. It really is. I am not joking.

So – this is YOUR position. If you are rich and screw up and end up with millions you are a great Galt. If you are just an average Joe and you screw up or just got downsized and cannot get a job in one of the most serious downturns in history – YOU SUCK!

Sociopathic behavior. Period.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm

How did we get onto teachers anyway?

I don’t pay the CEO of HP (I don’t own shares). I do pay for the teachers in my city. Yet, I can’t fire them. Actually, nobody can.

What I want you to understand is that, as you get richer, your exposure to risk is reduced to almost nothing.

You are wrong.

What I want you to understand is that I am rich and I did start with literally nothing. I’m a first generation immigrant from the Soviet Union. I started my own business – that’s how I got rich. Every dime of my net worth (besides my home) is in my company. I am totally exposed. If the business goes under, I go broke.

If I take some of the wealth I’ve already created out of my business and replaced it with investor capital, I could ensure myself. If the business blows up, I could still have something to live on. But, I earned that insurance. I earned it by working 7 days per week and taking a huge risk for many years.

My former boss at Lehman Brothers was paid over $1MM per year – mainly with Lehman stock. He lost over a decade of compensation when Lehman went bankrupt

The HP scenario you’re talking about is one very specific example. One I’m neither familiar with nor concerned about. I’m not concerned because I didn’t pay him and if the owners of HP decided to offer him such a package, what business is it of ours? If I hired you and you were able to negotiate a great contract, would you consider it proper that some busy-body interfered and limited the contract I was willing to offer you?

The fact remains that not all of the wealthy – in fact, not most of the wealthy are in a risk free environment. In fact, most people who are really wealthy got that way because they took enormous risks. Risk and reward are inexorably linked.

So – this is YOUR position.

This is neither mine nor, from what I read, g-dub’s position. The fact that you deliberately twist everything everyone says to you suggests you’ve got some psychological problems.

Don B October 6, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Methinks – congrats on your $$. Good on you.

G-dub said, “When one day you make 50k and the next you are out of a job, there is a slim margin of error before you are on the streets and completely bust.

Maybe buy one less flatscreen, a smaller house, a cheaper car. Maybe invest in one’s skill capital, help avoid or mitigate changes. You know, spend less time sitting on one’s fat ass watching sunday football, and start hedging against uncertainty. Grow up, iow. But mostly, stop voting for statists and many of these problems will shake themselves out.

boo-hoo, losers.”

He just called 6 million Americans losers. NOT ME!!!

I am not the one saying if you are unemployed you are a loser. NOW DO YOU GET IT???? MAYBE???

Let me put it to you another way. If life gives you a kick in the pants and you lose everything, the last thing I’ll call you is loser. Good for you that you tried. Sorry it did not work out. I hope you get back on your feet and if there is something I can do let me know. But you are not a loser. And neither are 6 million Americans.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm

You know, Don B, yelling doesn’t make your case.

G-dub is clearly saying that everyone should save for a rainy day. Do you disagree?

When I was just starting out (before I started a business), I made very little money. I lived in a studio apartment and my idea of “entertainment” was splitting one chinese take-out with my boyfriend on a Friday night. I spent virtually nothing in order to build up a nest-egg in case I lost my low paying (waaaaay below $55k and NYC to boot) job. Once I had saved enough to live 9 months without a job, I relaxed my spending restrictions. Since I wanted to save as quickly as possible, my restrictions were severe.

Most of my friends spent every penny they made in bars and on clothes and TV’s. They were more than happy to vote for people who would force you to subsidize their profligacy. Should you be made to pay for their choice to not protect themselves from downside risk? This is what g-dub is saying. Maybe you don’t like his tone, but you haven’t the right to mis-characterize what he said because you find it emotionally satisfying to do so. People who choose to use government to stick a gun to your head in order to provide for them when they are not willing to provide for themselves are losers. Wouldn’t you agree?

Nowhere did g-dub call the unemployed losers. You created that straw man.

If life gives you a kick in the pants and you lose everything, the last thing I’ll call you is loser. Good for you that you tried. Sorry it did not work out.

I appreciate that and I feel the same way. Life has given me a lot of very hard and painful kicks many many times. I have also failed many many times. Some of those failures were nearly catastrophic. To succeed, one must be willing to fail – repeatedly. Failing at something does not make one a loser. Never lifting a finger to help yourself and then robbing you to support yourself does kind of make you a loser, don’t you think?

if there is something I can do let me know.
You will find that this is the way most of the people who comment here feel. I’ll bet you’d feel differently if I lived high on the hog, never saved a dime, and then forced you to subsidize me forever after I lost my job. Most folks who lose their job do not fall into that category, but those that do are pretty much losers.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 7:57 pm

That is, robbing a stranger to support yourself…

Observer October 6, 2011 at 11:44 am

the message of Ayn Rand is to exploit other people.

Balzac observed, “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been found out, because it was properly
executed.”

We know why Jobs was a success–we can easily account for such. Today, we ought to reflect on all those for whose success we cannot account

Dan H October 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

That is the exact opposite of what Ayn Rand’s message is. She said that human beings are ends in themselves, bot means to other people’s ends. There is no exploitation in voluntary trade and interaction.

Dan H October 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

not*

Sam Grove October 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

the message of Ayn Rand is to exploit other people.

Evidence of cluelessness.

SweetLiberty October 6, 2011 at 12:16 pm

But just saying it makes it true!

Cameron October 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Could you please explain how, “The message of Ayn Rand is to exploit other people?” I’m not a huge Rand-o-phile, but I’m pretty sure the whole point is that people engage in VOLUNTARY exchange for MUTUAL benefit; consequently, value is CREATED through that exchange. Where in Atlas Shrugged is anyone coerced or forced to do anything except by the government and cronies? Help me out here dude.

Observer October 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Cameron

The entire premise “voluntary” “exchange” is a false one. The leverage one has going into a transaction determines what one gets out of the exchange. There is nothing “voluntary” about it.

This people don’t like it, but Government determines who has leverage—all distribution of income is a political question. Thus Gov’t can act to increase the leverage of the poor and middle class.

Good examples of various forms of leverage are slavery, patents, corporations, and unions. To the people here it is ok for people to combine their capital (for example, as shareholders) to gain leverage (think ATT). It is wrong for poor people to form a union to gain leverage. The language here is always propaganda. Stated concern for the poor but the agenda is always to protect, at any cost, the .5% that owns the country and has all its wealth.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Damn, you’re an idiot.

g-dub October 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm

It is wrong for poor people to form a union to gain leverage. The language here is always propaganda.

Most here are not against voluntary collusion. If the “workers” want to get together to wield their power, so be it.

What people here are likely against is forced association, which is what the NLRA is (along with being unconstitutional). Free association is a right, and a right to free association means nothing if not including the choice of not associating.

MT’76 has your number.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Exactly! Well said.

Ken October 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm

“The entire premise “voluntary” “exchange” is a false one.”

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

vikingvista October 7, 2011 at 1:01 am

The leaverage to say “no” is all I ask. Last I checked, the rich people running Walmart were unable to force me to buy any of their products. Does that mean they are using their tremendous leverage to force me NOT to buy their products, or does it mean that I am richer than they are?

Funny I don’t have that same leaverage with the goverment. But that’s just my false premise. Clearly you are right, and there is no meaningful difference between my “exchange” with an armed mugger, and my exchange with the corner store. Voluntary action is just an illusion.

roystgnr October 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm

That’s completely wrong. The secret of most great successes for which you are at a loss to account is that you’re not smart enough and informed enough to account for most successes.

Steve Jobs was just smart enough to sell consumer items (so his business model was easy to understand even for stupid people) which were mostly luxuries (so he couldn’t be stupidly accused of exploiting people by making a profit off necessities) to the middle class (so he couldn’t be stupidly tarred as sharing the surely ill-gotten gains of all those other rich people).

It would be nice to solve the problem of envy, I must admit. Human happiness shouldn’t be a zero-sum game. But perhaps rather than reflecting on how we can create a world with fewer enviable rich people we should reflect on how we can create a world with fewer envious stupid people?

Observer October 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Balzac was wrong?

Ayn Rand wrote the manual on how Goldman Sachs conducts interviews—you ask one question:

What are you willing to do to other people to get a lot of money?

That, my friends, is exploitation.

You can tell its about exploitation because these people shrink up in rage when you mention great people whose entire being rejects Rand (Lincoln, Franklin, FDR, Truman, Washington, all come to mind.). Real people, people who were great, they hate, yet they worship a character in a work of fiction because they can use him to rationalize their greed, their drive for power, and their overwhelming desire to exploit other people

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 4:55 pm

How many Goldman interviews have you been invited to. I’ve never been asked about screwing people over in any of my Goldman interviews.

they can use him to rationalize their greed, their drive for power, and their overwhelming desire to exploit other people</i?

Yep, Lincoln, FDR, et. al are all used for that.

Observer October 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm

so typical of everyone I ever saw from Goldman

hatred and contempt for Lincoln and Washington and FDR.

why don’t you use your real name, Gordan Gekko

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 7:30 pm

You’ve never seen anyone from Goldman in your life. An idiot like you would never be allowed anywhere near an investment bank. The guys in the back office and mail room are 1,000x more intelligent than you.

I suppose you meant the Gordon Gekko thing as a slur. I take it as a compliment. But, as a woman, I don’t think “Gordon” is an appropriate name.

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm

“the message of Ayn Rand is to exploit other people.”

Whether you agree with her message or not, you get an F in reading comprehension. Literature has no shortage of authors with subtle, complex, or ambiguous messages. She is not one of them.

Economiser October 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Heh heh.

Rand is about as non-subtle as you can get.

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I could never slog through Atlas Shrugged. She just keeps hammering you over the head. She’s just not among my favourite authors.

Observer October 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm

vikingvista

I have read your posts

I have read the book

when you call people parasites the projection comes through loud and clear

vikingvista October 6, 2011 at 11:11 pm

“when you call people parasites the projection comes through loud and clear”

What “projection” are you talking about? Do you know what “parasite” means?

vikingvista October 7, 2011 at 1:04 am

And I’ll give you a hint: “parasite” does not mean “poor people”.

Andrew_M_Garland October 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm

When people understand what a rich person has done, they generally support that person. Average people know what Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have done, and they know what professional baseball and football players contribute.

Average people do not know the stories of people in industry, and they are suspicious (with some good reason) of how banks make money for their rich managers. The mystery is Russ Roberts’s point: Why don’t the known good examples put some doubt in the general anti-rich sentiment?

Economiser October 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm

It’s a bit harder because banks don’t make tangible goods. Many people seem caught up in the concept that value has to be tangible (which is odd given that we live in a service-dominate economy).

Then again the Koch brothers produce a lot of tangible goods and they are reviled. Who knows?

Observer October 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm

some of us know how “investment bankers” make money, which is why they are held in told disregard

Michael Lewis thought that Liar’s Poker exposed enough to put them out of business, but he has a habit of underestimating evil

Methinks1776 October 6, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Michael Lewis was a sales assistant on a bond desk. Like a lot of sales assistants, he had a pretty poor understanding of the product traded on the desk. This is one reason he (and most of the sales staff) are so disliked by the traders. He was never an investment banker and Liar’s Poker gives you no insight into Investment Banking. You don’t know shit about anything, little Troll.

Although, I do find the book hilarious to this day. Especially that part about the new batch of college grads being “lower than whale shit on the bottom of the ocean”. That part is very accurate.

Westie October 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Now I know what the little commie pricks @ WS Occupied are paid for, infiltrate the blogs with Troll lies.

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