I normally attempt to amuse myself in these vignettes while simultaneously playing the role of Mr. CrankyPants.
This time I’m playing the role of the blown-dried newscaster tilting his head slightly to the right, that solemn and grave stare , about to do a piece on something important- directly followed by the fluff piece about a house cat that just adores watching Jon Stewart.
Years before people were discussing the nations “richest 1%”, I commented to a friend that such a tiny fraction of the population controlling so much of the nation’s wealth cannot be a good thing. Mind you I’ve mostly voted for Republican candidates- except the ones who insinuate that God is on their side.
My friend, far from being wealthy but a lifelong Ayn Rand Objectivist replied: “you think so?..how come?. ..do you think it affects you?...you think the uber wealthy affects you..or anybody, for that matter?
The guy FROZE me with that question. I had nothing.
Many years later, I still don’t know. Let me clarify: I BELIEVE it doesn’t affect me personally but I can’t say for sure it doesn’t hamstring this or any economic system in which it which it exists.
Like him, it is my belief that Capitalism serves the people far better than any form of Socialism.
History’s experiments in Socialism/Collectivism have ended in unequivocal economic ruin and unspeakable horrors and human tragedy. All of them. Meanwhile, for all of the talk of the unfairness of the U.S. income inequality, tens of millions of immigrants still desperately want to come here WHILE, statistically speaking, nobody ever leaves.
History, however, does not have any precedent to compare the current relationship between Capital and Labor and a disparity in income and wealth only seen before in societies with The Royal Class and peasants.
For clarification purposes, “Labor” doesn’t just mean the middle class, the working class or the working poor. Labor are ALL people in the workforce whose income comes only from work. A Brain Surgeon who receives virtually all of his income from their work is Labor while the person whose economic output is entirely earning money from their money is “Capital”. Same question or debate has been asked the last two hundred years so we're not talking about anything new here.
Extraordinary advances in productivity- much the result of incredible advances in Information Technology has made any comparisons between the past and present economic eras unusable. It would be tough to argue advances in worker productivity are a MAJOR reason for the deeper shifts in the concentration of wealth. But I still don't know if there is anything inherently good or bad about this.
If I were again asked to answer my friends question, I (again) would be stumped. My job has never been sent overseas but- if it had been- is that necessarily wrong or cold hearted? Anyone with a conscience feels for that person but is there any difference between their situation and that of the laborer flattened by the Industrial Revolution of 130 years ago? Some could intelligently argue it’s the necessary impetus for the lower-skilled worker at acquire the skills the market seeks. But others could argue that insatiable economic growth with no ceiling will always slaughter society’s weakest and most disadvantaged.
I do know with 100% certainty that the entrenched middle class/working class in the U.S.- with virtually no free time due to increased demands from work while raising a family- have a very different life than the middle classes that came before them. They are much worse off.
Now let’s go back to my co-anchor Skyler for that story about an area 2nd grader who created a Facebook Page for Mark Zuckerberg- only to learn later that Mark Zuckerberg owns 53% of the company, has a net worth north of $30 billion and apparently already has his own page.