Update: Bob Owens, the Confederate Yankee is on the same wavelength today!
I scanned the headlines this morning of what my homepage (Comcast/Xfinity/whatever it is these days) considers to be news. In the rotating “Today’s Highlights” section I saw this:
It’s a very subtle ploy, that statement, “already making more money than most will earn in a lifetime.” Does it make you feel good? Glad for those billionaires, and proud of their enterprenurial spirit? Or does it make you feel slightly envious that these young kids will make more than you’ll ever see in your life? Yeah, me too.
The ongoing repetition (only slightly unpalatable in single instances) permeates society these days. It’s in the press, on television, online… all the time. Captialism is evil; tax the rich; make the rich pay their fair share; they’ll make more than you’ll see in a lifetime. It’s pernicious, it fosters an us-vs.-them mentality, and frequently it’s not all that subtle.
But let’s take a look at a few of the evil young capitalists on the list above, and see what makes them so awful:
- Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of FaceBook
- Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo!
- John Arnold, Centaurus hedge fund manager
- Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google
Just looking at those four young men, the companies they founded or inherited employ over 35,000 people. Combined, they have donated billions of dollars to various charities. How can this be undesirable?
Unlike the conventional wisdom of today, the world would not be richer if there were fewer rich people. On the contrary: everyone would be much poorer. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of jobs would not exist if inquiring minds didn’t create companies like Google and Yahoo!
Philanthropic entities would cease to exist if there were no more wealthy people. Of course charitable giving would continue, as we are a charitable nation, but the big philanthropies–like the Gates-Buffett Challenge–would be out of business (and again, fewer jobs).
Who would endow libraries, hospitals, universities, medical centers if those prosperous enough to do so ceased to be so?
In short, the world would be an infinitely poorer place if capitalism fell so far out of favor as to be actively discouraged, and if all our rich, millionaire, and billionaire citizens were to cease to exist (or simply to go elsewhere). But we’re not too far away from that right now.
Were that to occur, we’d be asking “Whatever happened to John Galt?”