[Editor: This piece by Mr Ben Emery evolved from a thread in the comment stream to ‘Progressive Radio – the Dangerfield of the airwaves’. There Mr Emery posted and extended response to my 909pm comment which appears below.
BenE 807pm - It reappears that you and yours believe that the amount of wealth on earth is fixed, and humans live to just redistribute that wealth in a grim zero sum contest with the winners being those who can unjustly take it from the losers. You don't see 'jobs' which can add enormously to man's aggregate wealth, in the process increasing the QoL for millions (billions?), and then taking a small fraction of that for themselves. That small fraction will still cause great inequality, and that to you is the injustice that we cannot countenance while some in the world are still suffering. It is better that no such new wealth is created, it is better that we all stay at some previous lower but more equal QoL level. That is probably what you all call 'social justice'.
Under this (to me horrible) ideology one person here, who creates nothing, should be empowered to define what is the proper level of risk and reward for another person there, one who wants to create wealth and a better life on earth for all in reach of that new creation. And if all cannot share equally in the new creation, then none should share in it.
Does this understanding provide you with an inkling of why we are so polarized, and why the likelihood of a Great Divide increases by the day?
Posted by: George Rebane | 11 February 2013 at 09:09 PM
Since wealth and its distribution was a thread somewhat afield from the topic of progressive radio, and worthy of discussion on its own merits, I invited Mr Emery to draft his comments into a response that could be published as a single piece, and serve as a dedicated forum for its discussion and debate. With minor edits to promote clarity, that piece appears in the following. Nothing has been removed from the original comment stream where the preamble to this post remains intact. gjr]
Now to address your 909pm comment.
No I don’t see wealth as fixed, I see wealth as created by the labor of one’s intellect or physical time and energy. I, like most people in my camp, don’t see a problem with those who take financial risk to take a bigger chunk of the pie. As many studies have shown, an income ratio of 5:1 creates a functional economy and society. That is $5 for every $1 between the top quintile and the bottom quintile. In the US that ratio is around 14:1, we are just behind the Ivory Coast in this category. Now this ratio paints a picture that isn’t even close to what the real story is in the US. The top quintile is the top 20% of income either earned or unearned. In the US the top quintile controls 93% of the wealth. Within the top quintile the top 1% controls 40% of the total wealth. From 1980 to 2009 83% of economic gains in the US were taken in by the top 1% and even that is misleading because it is the top 0.5% that a vast majority of those gains. In 2010 alone over 90% of economic gains went to the top 1% with the same reality as the other statistic.
Now here are the two big lies corporatists like yourself like to tell. 1) Job creators are the wealthy. 2) Those who have accumulated great wealth are the productive members of our nation while those who created that wealth are the takers. Both of these are false and I will start with the latter because it is debunked with a single sentence. Wealth is created by the labor of a person’s intellect or physical body.
Accumulating huge sums of wealth based on other people's labor is theft if those laborers aren't justly compensated with a living wage for full time work in humane working conditions. If those laborers are compensated with a living wage for full time work with humane work conditions, then that accumulation is justified, but should have the incentive to reinvest back into the economy after a very high threshold is surpassed, e.g. $2-3 million annually.
The way jobs are created is not by wealthy people, but (through) an increase in demand. Demand is created by average workers’ wages. The more workers have to spend in the economy the more demand that is created, since they spend 99% of their incomes. Spending by consumers equates to 70% of all economic activity in the US.
I did a little calculation on median personal income, note it is not household income. Adjusted for inflation $1 in 1980 is equal to in spending power or adjusted for inflation to $2.80 in 2012. The median personal income of 1980 was $19,600, which should equal to inflation adjusted dollars to $54,600. Remember in 1980 it was personal income as in a single individual in the workforce and today it is calculated at household incomes, which includes many if not most households with two or more incomes. In 2011 the median personal income was somewhere around $27,000, and median household income was around $49,000. The $5,000 difference from the inflation adjusted income of $54,000 is probably the $0.75 on the $1.00 women make to men for equal work.
I can go into tons of statistics and studies but I know that doesn’t matter because we can pull that stuff from any angle to prove our points. The numbers I used above are just straight forward.
Now for the last point of Bill Gates, a single individual, (who) through his unethical business of Microsoft has accumulated $65,000,000,000 over a 30-year period. First Bill Gates bought the rights to a system that created MS-DOS system. Second no inventor or innovator came up with their idea alone; they built on the thousands of ideas that came before them, so the patent laws are written for those wealthy enough to purchase competition/ new technology or inventions to reap all the benefits for long term gains or to keep them off the market. So many of these inventions came from public research and investment, which makes the tax dodging behavior even more egregious.
If Bill Gates kept manufacturing in the US paying $20 plus benefits, his total worth might by only $20-$30 billion, but the US would have blue collar workers spending earned money into the economy instead of borrowed money with interest, thus giving banks more and more power. But Gates and Microsoft decided to go into the modern day slave business instead. It is not only Microsoft, but they are a microcosm of what large transnational corporations have become. There are thousands of stories like this going on around the world about worker exploitation, unsafe working conditions, anti-trust violations, and environmental nightmares. Three different continents, same type of behavior.
China - ‘Hundreds Threaten Suicide At Microsoft Supplier Plant In China.’
Europe - ‘EU fines Microsoft record $1.4B’
US - ‘Judges Conclusion: MS Guilty’