Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

6.27.2014

This! This, this, this!

This article articulates my thoughts and beliefs so incredibly well.  Surprisingly, it's by an entrepreneur who has become one of the richest people in the world thanks to capitalism, and he's worried about securing his wealth.  You see, in all my blogging about the evils of capitalism, my main complaint is with the unbridled competition that sees so many people defeated and downtrodden as a result, and I've tried to advocate for a moderated implementation that allows all of us to succeed together.  That's exactly what this author is arguing, that for the rich to have a stable economy that grows their wealth over the long term they need to make sure we have a strong middle class that sees everyone doing well.  My self-interest is best served by looking after the interests of everyone else.

My poor attempt at an abridgement of the article, since there is so much good it was hard to select just a few highlights:

The Pitchforks Are Coming . . . For Us Plutocrats
Nick Hanauer in Politico Magazine

I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. . . . I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. . . .

What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. . . .

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last. . . .

No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. . . .

The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer. . . .

These idiotic trickle-down policies are destroying my customer base. And yours too. . . .

Middle-out economics rejects the old misconception that an economy is a perfectly efficient, mechanistic system and embraces the much more accurate idea of an economy as a complex ecosystem made up of real people who are dependent on one another. . . .

Which is why the fundamental law of capitalism must be: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators. Which means a thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around. . . .

The most insidious thing about trickle-down economics isn’t believing that if the rich get richer, it’s good for the economy. It’s believing that if the poor get richer, it’s bad for the economy. . . .

In any large group, some people absolutely will not do the right thing. That’s why our economy can only be safe and effective if it is governed by the same kinds of rules as, say, the transportation system, with its speed limits and stop signs. . . .

Wal-Mart won’t (and shouldn’t) volunteer to pay its workers more than their competitors. In order for us to have an economy that works for everyone, we should compel all retailers to pay living wages—not just ask politely. . . .

You know the truth even if you won’t admit it: If any of us had been born in Somalia or the Congo, all we’d be is some guy standing barefoot next to a dirt road selling fruit. It’s not that Somalia and Congo don’t have good entrepreneurs. It’s just that the best ones are selling their wares off crates by the side of the road because that’s all their customers can afford. . . .

The only way to slash government for real is to go back to basic economic principles: You have to reduce the demand for government. If people are getting $15 an hour or more, they don’t need food stamps. They don’t need rent assistance. They don’t need you and me to pay for their medical care. If the consumer middle class is back, buying and shopping, then it stands to reason you won’t need as large a welfare state. And at the same time, revenues from payroll and sales taxes would rise, reducing the deficit. . . .

Capitalism, when well managed, is the greatest social technology ever invented to create prosperity in human societies. But capitalism left unchecked tends toward concentration and collapse. It can be managed either to benefit the few in the near term or the many in the long term. The work of democracies is to bend it to the latter. . . .

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