Income inequality

Should Paul McCartney and Other Billionaires Be 'Abolished'?

Progressive populists have decided making a lot of money is prima facie evidence of criminality and that inequality is the cardinal sin of our age. Nope.

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As left-wing populists and progressives ascend in the Democratic Party, they are laying down new dogma, none more heartfelt than the idea that billionaires are evil, rotten, and not to be tolerated. For the Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warrens, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes of the world, billionaires are what witches were to Salem congregationalists and kulaks were to Lenin: a threat to they system that must be eliminated.

Ocasio-Cortez's economic policy adviser Dan Riffle has changed his Twitter name to "Every Billionaire Is a Policy Failure." Lefty blogger Tom Scocca declares "Billionaires are bad. We should presumptively get rid of billionaires" (he graciously adds, "they may go on living…[but] they must not be allowed to possess a billion dollars"). A research director at the proggy Roosevelt Institute says simply, "We do not need billionaires."

Then there's former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who believes that with great wealth comes great culpability.

Reich links to a column by The New York Times' Farhad Manjoo with the eliminationist title "Abolish Billionaires: A radical idea is gaining adherents on the left. It's the perfect way to blunt tech-driven inequality." The column makes two large points that undergird the anti-billionaire movement. First is the idea that nobody deserves or needs a billion dollars. "Why should anyone have a billion dollars," asks Manjoo, "why should anyone be proud to brandish their billions, when there is so much suffering in the world?" Second is the notion that "inequality is the defining economic condition of the tech age."

Did, say, Paul McCartney (net worth: $1.2 billion) make his pile through theft, as Robert Reich would contend? Would there be less suffering in the world if his money is expropriated and transferred to the wretched of the earth via higher taxes rather than through his own charitable donations and investments? Probably not, especially when you think about how much suffering, especially in the developing world, is the direct result of government action. More important, the creation of billionaires is a lower-order effect of a relatively free-market economy. Recall Joseph Schumpeter on this:

The capitalist engine is first and last an engine of mass production which unavoidably also means production for the masses. . . . It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabric, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as a rule improvements that would mean much to the rich man. Queen Elizabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within reach of factory girls.

Schumpeter's basic description helps to explain the ubiquity of all sorts of technology, from cell phones to pharmaceuticals, all around the world. Because of massive increases in global trade, more people have more stuff and are living longer than ever before. If one indirect consequence of this is that there are more billionaires than there used to be, so be it. It's become fashionable to assert that inequality is back at Gilded Age levels and that the concentration of power and wealth and everything good and decent is in smaller and smaller hands. This is simply not a good description of the world. For the first time in history, report researchers at the Brookings Institution:

The majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty. By our calculations, as of this month, just over 50 percent of the world's population, or some 3.8 billion people, live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered "middle class" or "rich."

About the same number of people are living in households that are poor or vulnerable to poverty. So September 2018 marks a global tipping point. After this, for the first time ever, the poor and vulnerable will no longer be a majority in the world. Barring some unfortunate global economic setback, this marks the start of a new era of a middle-class majority.

Income inequality among countries has been declining as well. The GINI coefficient, a measure of income inequality, of 146 countries that account for 95 percent of global production, declined from 67 percent in 1988 to 57 percent in 2015. Over the same time frame in the United States, it rose from 35 percent to 38 percent, an increase, to be sure, but a relatively modest one. China and India saw bigger increases, but the growth in inequality within those countries is more than overwhelmed by the absolute increases in wealth, especially among the poorest inhabitants. Click through image below for a fully functioning graph.

Bruegel

Within the United States, both the right and the left like to tell a story about wage stagnation, the end of upward mobility, and the death of the American Dream. Conservatives will tell you it's all liberals' fault and you need to roll with Trump or the Republicans if you want to make America great again. Liberals make the opposite case and push wealth taxes, Medicare for All, Free College for All, Guaranteed Jobs for All, and more. Both sides are describing a false version of reality.

As Russ Roberts has shown, mobility is alive and well in the United States. The most stunning indicator comes from a study that looks at income changes for individuals between 1980 and 2014. If you simply measure statistical averages, writes Roberts,

the average income of the top 1%…went from $189,000 to $843,000, which seems to confirm the view that most of the gains from economic growth go to the richest of the rich while people in the middle or the bottom make no progress at all. But the people in the top 1% in 2014 are not the same people in 1980. What happens when you follow the same people?… The richest people in 1980 actually ended up poorer, on average, in 2014. Like the top 20%, the top 1% in 1980 were also poorer on average 34 years later in 2014. The gloomiest picture of the American economy is not accurate. The rich don't get all the gains. The poor and middle class are not stagnating.

Russ Roberts, Medium

As libertarian economist Steve Horwitz writes, over the past 45 years, the consumption patterns of the poor and rich have become more similar. That's a point that gets lost if you're fixated on people in the top 0.001 percent:

Looking at consumption rather than income enables us to see both the absolute gains of poor US households and the narrowing of the gap with the wealthy. Poor US households are more likely to have basic appliances than the average household of the 1970s, and those appliances are of much higher quality. Together these three points offer a much more optimistic view of the degree of inequality and the ability of the poor to become rich. The picture is not all rosy and a final section discusses the relevance of housing, health care, and education costs to this argument.

Steve Horwitz, SSRN

Neither Horwitz nor Roberts are panglossian; each details areas (particularly housing, education, and health care) in which outcomes could be vastly improved, typically by moving in a more free-market direction. As Schumpeter might put it, capitalism might make more billionaires, but its achievement is creating many more things that virtually everyone can afford.

"Abolish Billionaires" is a smart slogan, but that's all it is. Figuratively lopping the heads off of the richest of the rich will not make life easier for the poor and dispossessed, and it won't increase economic growth and living standards. It might sate the bloodlust of left-wing populists for a while, but certainly that outcome can be purchased for lower cost.

NEXT: Snowflake Senator Calls for Boycott of Concert Venue Over Poster That Shows Him Eating a Baby

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  1. Between this and the Green New Deal, the Democrats have gone full retard.

    1. Have you read AOC’s house resolution? It calls to retrofit every. building… in America for “maximum energy efficiency”. Every structure in the country.

      These are solid ideas. Party of science.

      1. MY favorite part is that she is going to ban air travel and replace it with bridges across the ocean. I thought that was a joke. But it is really in there. These people are insane.

        1. I’ll take your word, John, but that got a laugh out of me.

        2. Better check your sources. It’s not in there. There is some pretty stupid stuff, but not that.

          1. They are going to ban all air travel and replace it with high speed rail. That is the part this is referring to.

            1. Domestically yes. But nothing about bridges across the ocean.

        3. That can’t really be true, can it? Can you point to the text that says that?

        4. Only if DiCaprio is the first to walk the bridge

      2. Except in California, you have to build it like it was in the 30’s.

          1. Celestials and dirt worshippers hardest hit.

        1. While imbibing sweet delicious illegal booze?

    2. Let’s just say that Thermodynamics continues to forever elude the Environmentalist movement.

    3. They went full retard LONG ago. Hillary was a very obvious example.

      -jcr

  2. Who do these people think we’re going to milk after all the billionaires are gone?

    Fuck their entire political existence depends of having a boogeyman who deserves to pay for their bullshit so they don’t have to work.

    Hello, Workers’ Paradise.

    That always works out in the end.

    1. Millionaires. And after them, everyone else.

      1. nice 401k you have there.

        1. No, John has a TSP.

      2. Does anyone really need $500k?

        Does anyone really need $100k?

        Does anyone really need a large TV?

        Does anyone really need a sportscar?

        What we all really need is constantly moving goalposts

        1. Us gun freaks already know about the “need” argument. Well acquainted with it.

        2. those are expensive too.

          1. You don’t need moving goal posts. Just trust me, I’ll let you know when we’ve achieved our goals.

      3. Yup. It never stops. There was a movie sometime in the late 1960s (can’t remember the name but it wasn’t “Over The Edge”) the idea of which was that young people under the age of 30 constituted 52% of the population, so they rebelled against everyone over 30. Then at the end of the movie one young person is glaring at the camera and says “we’re putting everyone over 20 out of business”. That’s the way it is when your entire political mindset is to find people to blame and not feel obliged to come up with realistic plans to resolve real issues. It’s what Marx said of the democratic socialists in “Critique of the Gotha Programme” (paraphrased) — “they are focused on really doing something without doing anything real”. As true today as it was then.

        1. Kind of odd that the same 20 somethings in the late 60’s are often Trump supporters now.

        2. Wild in the Streets

        3. are you talking about Logan’s Run. At least little war was in the book and that would be around 1973 to 1975.

        4. “Wild in the Streets”, 1968 sounds kind of like that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_in_the_Streets

    2. A repeat:

      I added up the Forbes 400 on 30 Jan 2019. It came to $2.891T. Not even three trillion dollars, not even one year of the Federal budget, or three years’ deficit, even if you could confiscate all of it.

      And if you did confiscate all of it, it’s not Scrooge McDuck swimming pools full of gold and jewelry, or even cash, or sitting in bank accounts. It’s assets: things, property, not-cash. Investments mostly: stocks and bonds; some mansions, yachts, biz jets, Ferraris, and other toys. But all of it has to be sold to become the cash you can use to pay down the national debt or even eliminate the budget debt for a measly three years. $3T is peanuts and won’t even put a dent in all the single-payer schemes.

      You couldn’t convert it to cash anyway. You’d have to sell it, and the only people who could buy it, couldn’t, because all their wealth has been confiscated.

      You couldn’t nibble at it either with Lizzie Warren’s 2% or 5% wealth tax, or Bernie Sanders’ 77% inheritance tax. Not only does the basic problem remain, that it is not cash but assets which have to be sold, but the value isn’t even known until you sell it, so you’d just be guessing what your stolen 2% or 5% or 77% is. With so many more sellers than buyers, the values would be depressed and you’d get pennies on the dollar, if you managed to sell much at all; everyone with the wealth to afford buying it would be scrambling to sell their own assets to pay their own wealth tax.

      1. Worth a repeat.

        1. I’m open to suggestions on making it clearer or shorter. Every time I tell someone who rants about rich people robbing the country, it usually shuts them up for a while, even if it doesn’t really change their mind.

          1. Rich people pay other people to do things for them. They can’t stay rich if they hoard their money. You can’t stay middle class if you get rid of them. Or as Dolly Levi said, “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”

      2. Well put. No doubt they’d suggest selling it all to the Chinese

      3. Well put.

        The level of stupidity is unbelievable.

        Not to mention they never grasp that it’s not zero sum. You’d think a reasonably bright 10-year-old would get that after 5 minutes of thinking about it, but nooooo

      4. Three words: Modern Monetary Theory

      5. Three words: Modern Monetary Theory

      6. “Facts” are well-known tools of the running-dog lakeys of the reactionary counter-revolutionary forces of the imperialist criminal capitalist system.

        (That’s all the 60’s leftist buzzwords I can remember. I probably missed some, I was just a kid back then. Probably needs capitalization too.).

      7. Well written.

        Just to reiterate a point you made: a billion in net worth does not equal a billion dollars. Besides, even if it did, liquidating these assets and redistributing them would absolutely wreck the banking system and investment world which would then come crashing down on the folks that redistribution was intended to help (no access to additional liquidity, companies cut back employment because of lack of capital, further loss of jobs that are tied to the lifestyle of billionaires).

      8. Net worth numbers are based on a best case scenario. In a fire sale liquidation they are meaningless. This is the case at every income level.

    3. Socialism is great, until you run out of other people’s money.

      Democrats are less charitable with their own money, compared to republicans, but love to give money away when it belonged to someone else.

      1. No, socialism is not great by any measure. Socialism is a brutal, oppressive system from the beginning and just gets worse from there. Social programs that are paid for with taxes is not socialism and that’s what’s great until you run out of other people’s money.

  3. If it weren’t for billionaires, there’d be no one to censor problematic voices online. So think long and hard about what you’re saying, Democratic Socialists.

    1. I had a conversation the other day with a progressive who kept insisting that “democratic socialism is no more like socialism than a sea lion is like a lion”

      It was a relatively short conversation.

  4. I’d like to abolish meanness.

    1. No you wouldn’t; you just want a monopoly on it.

      1. That’s better than having a Boggle on it.

        Ya heard?

    2. Mean people suck.

  5. I guess Hugo Chavez’s daughters wouldn’t mind ponying up that hard earned $4.5 billio

  6. “Some of the smartest people I know have graduate degrees. All of the dumbest people I know have graduate degrees” — Iowahawk.

    Robert Reich has always been far into the latter category.

    1. This is definitely something I learned in graduate school.

      Most are quite smart in their incredibly narrow niche in their incredibly narrow field of study, but when it comes to anything at all outside that niche, they’re fucking dumb as rocks. Oftentimes even dumber than those they would call dumb.

    2. ‘Credentialled’ but not ‘Educated’

  7. Let me tell you how it will be
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
    Should five per cent appear too small
    Be thankful I don’t take it all
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman
    If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
    If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
    If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
    If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
    Don’t ask me what I want it for
    If you don’t want to pay some more
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
    Now my advice for those who die
    Declare the pennies on your eyes
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
    And you’re working for no one but me.

    They knew this back in the sixties.

    1. Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC
      Didn’t get to bed last night
      All the way the paper bag was on my knee
      Man, I had a dreadful flight
      I’m back in the USSA
      You don’t know how lucky you are, boy
      Back in the USSA

  8. If someone is complaining about Billionaires, ask them if they have an Amazon Prime account.

    The left have no idea about voting with their dollars. I don’t give Amazon a frigging dime because I think Bezos has enough money.

    1. They will likely claim that they are forced to use Amazon because – monopoly. I do not think they can be reasoned with, this Is a more a matter of faith for them.

      1. This.

        They make claims that sound bad, then redefine everything to fit the claim.

    2. The Left’s perspective is forever locked in an authoritarian system.
      The very concept of “voting” with their money is completely incomprehensible to them. Sure, they do it when they choose product A over products B and C, but they utterly fail to recognize what they’re doing.
      To them, one does not choose to give Amazon or any other large corporation their business, one is compelled to do so.
      This is how they can maintain moral equivalency of big business, whose motive is explicitly profit, and government, whose motive they see as altruism (provided it’s not R legislation).
      They are, in other words, psychotic

      1. Damnit, responded before reading further downthread.

        Mickey Rat and Muxzled Woodchipper beat me to it.
        Spot on, guys

      2. It’s weird. They label seeking profits as greed, but they are completely blind to the fact that government is not about altruism: it’s about wielding power over others.

        Frankly, I’d rather deal with greedy people any day than people that want to order me around in every aspect of my life and even dictate my thoughts. That seems obvious, but they miss it.

    3. Yes, they have an Amazon Prime account, that they access on their Macs or iPhones.

    4. And I happily paid hundreds of dollars to attend a 38,000 person sing along with Sir Paul because he’s cute and deserves more money.

  9. Farhad Manjoo was a tech idiot when he wrote tech columns. That he has shifted to economics columns tells me all I need to know about his economics knowledge.

  10. “Anyone who has a billion dollars either exploited a monopoly that should have been broken up, got inside information unavailable to other investors, bribed some politicians, or inherited the money from their parents (who did one of the above).”

    Which one is Steyer?

    1. I suppose Reich should know, he has been part of the political class that takes the bribes.

  11. swallow me Lucky Charms! a Robert Reich sighting.

    1. Robert Reich, his thinking’s magical and ridiculous.

  12. “Figuratively lopping the heads off of the richest of the rich…might sate the bloodlust of left-wing populists for a while…”

    Then, being true radicals, they will literally lop their heads off. And after billionaires, millionaires. Then the kulaks, the bourgeoisie, the “intellectuals” [whomever that might include] and so on. All enemies of the State.

    1. Fortunately it will never come to this. The mainstream Left has gotten very good at milking the free market cow as much as possible without killing it. For the past few decades they always seem to back off before going over the edge.

      1. Edging is an essential skill.

  13. “Progressive populists have decided making a lot of money is prima facie evidence of criminality and that inequality is the cardinal sin of our age.”

    There isn’t anything principled about progressive candidates like Liz Warren making an issue out of billionaires. This is simply about attacking Donald Trump ahead of 2020, who, billionaire or not, is associated with lavish spending and the billionaire lifestyle. Effectively, this billionaire “issue” is like Warren’s answer to questions about her misappropriating Native American heritage. “I may not be Cherokee”, she’s saying, “but Donald Trump is a billionaire“.

    This is about posturing ahead of 2020, and that is all this is about.

    Incidentally, it might be effective. One reason Trump won the presidency was because white, blue collar workers in the rust belt came to imagine him as their champion. I suspect that mostly had to do with the social justice warriors that run the Democratic Party and the mainstream news calling him racist, xenophobic, sexist, etc.–much like they’d been going after average white people in the American heartland since Obama was first elected. Calling Trump the same names “the deplorables” had been called for years made them start thinking,

    “Gabba Gabba,
    We accept him
    We accept him
    One of us!”

    1. I see no better explanation for why average, blue collar workers in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and western Pennsylvania came to believe that New York City’s most conspicuous spender, trophy wife in tow, could be their champion. It wasn’t only because of his stances on trade and immigration. Those have been tried before. MAGA actually became an identity statement. If the social justice warriors can’t bring themselves to stop hating their fellow white, blue collar Americans in flyover country before 2020, then Warren going after Trump for being a billionaire is probably the next best strategy. Surely, if the Democrats don’t do something to undermine Trump’s support in those states, we’ll soon be talking about how long it will take President Pence to finish the wall.

      P.S. The cardinal sin of our age is not inequality. The cardinal sins of our age are racism, sexism, and homophobia, and those sins aren’t about anything you actually do. They’re secrets you’ve kept in your heart until your insensitivity was revealed in a Facebook post, a Tweet, people you’ve associated with in your past, or rumors or yearbook photos from decades ago. Once you’re found guilty of these sins in your heart, regardless of whether you’ve ever discriminated against anyone, it’s off to the stockade for public humiliation and then permanent ostricization. Don’t want to end up like that? Keep your heart free from sin.

      1. They took Trump as their champion because he was the only candidate who didn’t hate them.

        1. I think that was the difference maker.

          Meanwhile, the progressives still can’t get it through their heads that hating on white people for being white, Christians for being Christian, men for being men, and blue collar workers for being blue collar workers isn’t popular with whites, Christians, men, and blue collar workers.

          They can’t stop themselves from hating on the people they need to win for two main reasons.

          1) Self-flagellation is central to what it means to be a progressive.

          Progressivism is about using the coercive power of government to force people to make sacrifices for the common good. The saints in that religion are those who are willing to make the most sacrifices. No truer progressive mother Theresa than those white liberals who are willing to sacrifice their “privilege”. No truer progressive than those willing to sacrifice their standard of living to save the earth from global warming. They feel compelled to hate themselves to be in good standing with the progressive church, and they can’t stop hating those who won’t make sacrifices without also giving up the self-flagellation.

          2) The Democratic Party is controlled by BLM interests, illegal alien interests, feminists, radical environmentalists, and LGBTQI+ activists, and to most of those people, what’s the point of politics if you can’t hate on white people for being racist, Christians for being homophobes, climate change deniers for being selfish, and men for being wannabe rapists?

        2. It always amazed me why the progressives try so hard to appeal to minorities and totally denigrate the majority. How are you supposed to win any elections if you bad mouth and constantly insult the vast majority. Any white person in America, either man or woman must be completely self destructive to vote for the Dems.
          Just look what happened in the woman’s march. It was called off because there were too many ‘white women’ and not enough minorities. This is the contempt the Dems and the left have for white Americans.

      2. So hating billionaires just started in the last year or two, and is all about Trump.
        Sometimes you out think yourself, Ken.
        Trump was accepted by working class people because he talked to them, he cared about them, and he talked and acted like them.
        Nobody forgot Trump was a billionaire – indeed, he bragged about it often.
        They didn’t hold it against him because he could, unlike career politicians, relate to them – and because of his casual, loudmouthed manner they could relate to him.
        Who can relate to the high fallitin, moral and ideological academically scripted talking points of career politicians?
        Despite being a billionaire, trump comes off as a regular guy who talks in concrete, pragmatic terms.
        Working class people saw him, and I believe still see him, not as their benevolent superior but as their leader.

        Also, Freud was not wrong about everything. That’s an ignorant statement, though I suspect you’re a Skinner fan. Much easier

        1. “So hating billionaires just started in the last year or two, and is all about Trump.”

          Can you honesty say that’s what I wrote?

          You must have misread it. Read it again.

        2. “Also, Freud was not wrong about everything.”

          “Freud seems to have been wrong about everything” is what I wrote, and the point was that elitists are subject to the same uncertainties in areas of scientific pursuit as they are in trying to confront the uncertainties of how to invest, manage, and plan an economy–and for all the same reasons. Freud was limited by the data that was available to him in his time, just as markets and central planners are limited by what data is available today. Darwin was more or less unaware of genetic drift–which may be a much bigger engine of evolution than the survival of the fittest. He didn’t know about genes, so how could he have known about genetic drift?

          The point is that investing in, managing, and planning an economy is similarly hamstrung by the unavailability of crucial data. The elitists should understand that problem from other disciplines–it’s essentially the same problem in science only more so. The solution to that problem is demonstrably not to have experts plan things because they’re smart and knowledgeable. It’s to let markets guide our decisions–like with the yield curve.

          1. Yeah, Darwin missed half the picture, Freud was wrong, wrong, wrong about almost everything, and the central planners are all wrong, too–for the same fundamental reasons. The idiot masses outperform the experts when they participate in markets (see the yield curve and the S&P 500) like brainless ants evolving and thriving for eons simply by responding to what are basically market forces–and if the elitists can’t bring themselves to accept that fact, then they’re wrong, wrong, wrong.

            If you think that argument is somehow addressed, much less thwarted, by the observation that Freud was once right about something, then you’re missing the forest for the trees.

    2. True enough. Just imagine how Trump will do in 2020 if the Dems nominate Warren, or Sanders, with Ocasio-Cortez or Kamala along for the ride as VP candidate. Of course, they could nominate Biden but there is no way on God’s green earth the left-wing keyboard warriors would abide (see what I did there?) that one. Which would be a good thing, because it just might splinter the Dems for good and forever.

  14. “Billionaires are bad. We should presumptively get rid of billionaires”

    Something is not quite right here.

    1. Never mind, I take that back. I finally found the definition of presume he’s using.

      1. I presumed he was a billionaire, officer. And presumed it was Billionaire Season.

  15. Let’s examine this “how did they get their billion dollars” crap.

    Bill Gates started with wealthy parents sending him to Harvard where he basically flunked out and dumpster-dove for a copy of BASIC which he rewrote for the new 8-bit computers coming out. Regardless of his whiny attitude and low ethics, he did do some work, his company did grow and grow through his and others’ hard work, and eventually a lot of people ended up as millionaires and some ended up as billionaires.

    At what point were any of them supposed to know they had gotten rich enough?

    What were they supposed to do about it? Sabotage the company so they wouldn’t get any richer? Leak trade secrets to Apple so Steve Jobs would get richer? Drop source code in a dumpster so some Yale dropout could start a rival?

    Oh, maybe they were supposed to just quit — give two weeks notice and retire and do nothing further.

    Maybe next they can investigate how the Clintons and Obamas got so rich on just $400K a year in pay.

    1. Bill Gates started with wealthy parents sending him to Harvard where he basically flunked out and dumpster-dove for a copy of BASIC which he rewrote for the new 8-bit computers coming out. Regardless of his whiny attitude and low ethics, he did do some work, his company did grow and grow through his and others’ hard work, and eventually a lot of people ended up as millionaires and some ended up as billionaires.

      Gates created a compnay which made a product that made computers usable for tens of millions of people increasing productivity and the wealth of the country by tens of billions of dollars and likely more. He also created a company that not only made many people millionaires provided tens of thousands of other people with an honest living and a good life.

      The idea that Gates or someone like him is somehow richer than the value they have given to others is complete bullshit.

      1. Oh no, anybody could have done what Gates did, John. The reason they didn’t was because . . . um . . .

        1. You’re looking for White Privilege.

          1. Yeah, maybe that’s it!

            He took advantage of all those white guys at IBM with his white privilege!

      2. I despise Bill Gates and Microsoft, but I despise those who would take their money even more.

        I saw some report on comparing how much value society got vs how much value the wealthy inventors got. The inventors only got something like 3% of what society got. Not hard to believe even for dirtbags like Microsoft and Bill Gates.

        And whatever my opinion of him and them, he never held guns to anybody’s head, he never threatened to sic government goons on people who wouldn’t buy his shit. Well, other than copyright, but that’s not what made him rich. Other than his whining over people redistributing the BASIC he stole. But he didn’t get close to rich off that.

        1. It is also important to note that up until the late 90s, Microsoft was notoriously uninterested in the Federal Government. There was a quip by Gates along the lines of “We keep all our lawyers in the GOOD Washington!” While MSFT did use copyright, it was usually to prosecute major dealers who would copy DOS or Windows disks and sell them with a computer. When it came to the consumer, they generally just had some product keys and some bad DRM software.

          It was only after the government came after MSFT for Anti-trust that they became super interested in the government. They “settled” their anti trust case in part by giving free copies of windows to schools (marketing win!) and began lobbying for more strict rules around copyright.

          Today, it is hard to find a “Good” billionaire who is not also a beneficiary of government largesse. Rather than use that to indict billionaires, people SHOULD be focused on how the increased scope of government has encouraged such nonsense.

      3. Gates didn’t do that! He used electricity supplied by the grid produced by public utilities, he drove on government roads, he used the US mail, he employed people taught in government schools, he was protected by public employee police and firefighters, he read books from the public library, and of course Harvard gets billions in government contracts. He should be paying 110% taxes! And should forfeit his houses, cars, yachts, clothes, watches, computers, and solid gold toilet!

        1. Agreed, I love the typical libertarian argument to justify Billionaires: They only earn what they’re worth. It’s not like someone earns this much money in a vacuum. while you can invent something and maybe sell it to a company for a few million, no one becomes a billionaire independent of their host society.

    2. Come to think of it, I still wonder how Obama — who entered the WH with a net worth of something around $400K — left the WH with a net worth somewhere slightly north of $12M.

      1. Residuals from his books?

      2. Billionaires!

  16. “Maybe next they can investigate how the Clintons and Obamas got so rich on just $400K a year in pay.”

    I can hear the boos and hisses all the way from here.

    1. I’m seeing many on the left starting to flee that ship. Expect the Clintons to be openly idea tidied as rapists in poo culture sooner rather than later

  17. A minor quibble: Paul McCartney DID get rich from a monopoly — copyrighted songs.

    1. I thought he got rich from Hungry Hungry Hippos!

      Get it?

      1. No.

    2. A minor quibble: Paul McCartney DID get rich from a monopoly — copyrighted songs.

      A minor quibble as someone who’s generally against IP: he made most of his money from tours and concerts. You may argue that they were only successful because of the copyright (I disagree), but providing entertainment as a service is a bit of a different thing, a more laborious service, different from generating and selling IP down the line.

      1. Eh, that’s probably some sort of truth. But I’d bet his fortune that he’s in favor of copyright.

      2. A minor re-quibble- McCartney probably got about half his wealth from concerts and tours, but a decent amount came for royalties. “A Wonderful Christmas Time” gets him somewhere around $500k alone each year. But he went from being a millionaire to a billionaire in 2017 because a settlement with Sony got him back half ownership of the Beatles catalog.

        Again it is all quibbling, because the whole “Monopoly” thing with regards to IP- especially with copyright- isn’t the same as a real monopoly. When someone has a monopoly on phone service, and gets billions from it, it is by forcing me to go without a phone or enrich them. McCartney doesn’t have a monopoly on music, or radios or listening to music. He has a monopoly on a very specific set of songs. Consumers and producers of music have vast amounts of freedom to listen and produce songs, or they can choose to pay him for his very specific set.

        I’m not saying IP law is right or wrong here- I tend to think there is a lot wrong with our IP law, and still feel there is a place for it even among libertarians. But when people raise the specter of Monopoly, it is often to conflate a rights owner with folks like Ma Bell or the local cable company, whose monopoly truly excludes a significant proportion of competition, severely harming consumer choice. And that isn’t IP law.

      3. I’m always puzzled by people who don’t believe in IP. If I take $100K and buy a piece of property, I should be able to keep it. But if I use the $100K to write a novel or invent something that’s patentable, I shouldn’t have any title to it? That’s not right. Is it?

    3. And who wasn’t Hillary

    4. Copyrighted songs aren’t really a monopoly though, because anyone can write and record songs. It’s no more a monopoly than McDonald’s is a monopoly since it’s the only place to get a Big Mac

      You can get an equally satisfying burger (or an even better one) at any number of other places, just like you can find equally satisfying music from any number of other artists

    5. Actually, Michael Jackson bought the entire Apple song catalog including all Beatles’ songs.

    6. So when you put your hard work and creative skills into writing and performing a song which for many was a marketable item, other performers should just be able to make money by performing his songs or radio stations should be able to make money by hiring someone to play his and other artists’ songs. Paul has earned his money and has every right to keep his money so long as he pays taxes the same as everyone else, and if that means using some legal protection to prevent his work being used openly by others who did not write or create his songs, then I certainly don’t have a problem with that.

  18. Can we at least dock him one or two million for that shirt he is wearing? Jeepers creepers.

  19. Reich is just another reason why the United States must protect the 2nd amendment.

    Could you imagine envious retards like this knowing where the guns are? They’ll have the gulags up before you even have a chance to escape.

    Just foul, degenerate humans.

    /spits on the ground.

    1. He knows it isn’t true. This is a real example of boob bait.

      1. Mmmmm, boobies.

  20. the only way to make sure everyone has a job is if every one plants rice. China tried that and if your not among the elites in teh cities then that is what you still do

  21. Reich has an ironic name, no?

    I think I’ll call him Turd Reich.

    1. I’d like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  22. Some people are good stewards of capital, and they accumulate it. Lots aren’t, and don’t.

    The fact that there are looters and moochers on ALL sides will never change the fact that some accumulate capital because they are skilled at doing so.

    1. ahh yes, this is the stuff. The “both sides” I come here for.

      “will never change the fact that some accumulate capital because they are skilled at doing so.”

      And which side promotes capitalism? Where is your god now?

      Please, let your false equivalencies flow freely. Straight into my veins

      1. For a moment I wondered what you were talking about; then I realized I didn’t care.

    2. Some achieve capital, others have capital thrust upon them.

    3. Or some people just have a genetic advantage be it their smarter, stronger, quicker, prettier, etc which gets their foot In the door. Time for personal wealth cap of say 500 million to 1 Billion max per person ajusted for Inflation with favored trade and aid status for nations that follow suit. A checks and balances on extreme wealth is sorely needed.

  23. So if some nut case decides to off a billionaire, do we get to blame these Democrats for their eliminationist rhetoric?

  24. No, they shouldn’t abolish Paul McCartney. Just anything he recorded after Band On The Run.

    1. I thought the Major was a lady suffragette.

      1. The Beatles, before and after the demise of the band, were amazing with their nonsense lyrics. Where’d that trend go. The last good song I can think of with nonsense lyrics like that was REM’s “Radio Free Europe”, and it was shortly after that when they started to suck.

        I know what it was! It was that Pearl Jam song, “Bedwetter”.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs8y3kneqrs

        That song came out years before Netscape went public, so you couldn’t look up the lyrics to songs online. You’d just be driving around in you your car, and some asshole DJ would put that fucking song on. I appreciate nonsense lyrics, but what kind of lunatic would sit there and listen to that Peral Jam song? It’s the lyrical equivalent of putting his fingers to his lips and going “bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb”

        Now where’s my Grammy? I don’t think so.

        1. imho, Pearl Jam couldn’t hold Alice-in-Chains’ or Soundgarden’s jocks.

          I loved all those Wings songs I was 5-6 years old then and my mom was only 25 so she listened to the pop/disco stations

          1. Most bands end their shows with their biggest hits. Its called the fast closer. Pearl Jam’s biggest hit was Jeremy about a kid who kills himself in front of his class.

            “Yeah man play the one about the kid who killed himself in grade school” pretty much sums up why music in the 1990s sucked so badly.

            1. Eddie gets the last laugh though by living to 2019 and still touring

              1. I think their music generally sucks but they actually are a good cover band. They do a great cover of Babba O’Reily and Vetter sings a great cover of “I Won’t Back Down” live just him and an electric guitar.

                1. yep. I have friends who swear by Pearl Jam – see them 5x a year, paint their heads like avocados for some reason … not my gig I follow phish right now

                2. On the one hand, Pearl Jam covered the greatest punk rock song ever.

                  On the other hand, they didn’t cover it better than Decry:

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx-gDFP7QqM

                  1. Props for this ?

          2. Yeah, it was like Wings’ bubble gum era, and it was great. That stuff should be remembered against the backdrop of Glam stuff like Suzi Quatro, Gary Glitter, The Sweet, as well as The Bay City Rollers, and, yeah, the Jackson 5. We’ll be lucky if popular music ever gets that good again. It was rebellious youth wanting to have a good time, but you can’t have that until you get some rebellious youth–and we just don’t have that anymore. I still think that’s a major drag on libertarianism these days.

            Resentment of parental authority may be the beginning of all libertarianism. To have a another big uptick in support for libertarianism, we may need another generation gap.

            1. >>>Resentment of parental authority may be the beginning of all libertarianism.

              (shameless plug?) i listen to Marky Ramone’s Punk Rock Blitzkrieg on siriusxm a significant portion of most days … 70s/80s libertarian soundtrack

            2. Resentment of parental authority may be the beginning of all libertarianism.

              Amen, brother.

            3. hey btw Ken there’s video of a full Wings show from summer ’76 I think … they run it on mtv live … spectacular show start to finish

            4. If resentment of parental authority is the beginning of libertarianism, we should see an enormous increase in libertarians soon enough

              Do you read the Lenore Skenazy articles here? The “helicopter parents” thing is completely out of control. Growing up I had parents that were incredibly over-protective?but these days they’d be considered so permissive they’d be jailed and I would be spirited away by DCF! I remember being told by my mom to play outside all day, UNSUPERVISED, when the weather was nice.

              I’m frankly amazed so many college kids these days beg and plead for their schools to shield them from hurt feelings just like they were still in nursery school. You’d think they’d be all too ready to throw off the yoke of authority once they’re finally out from under the parental roof. But no. I don’t get it.

              1. I”m hoping the kids of the college kids today rebel.

                The parents of the 50s were permissive as well. They didn’t want their kids to go through the trouble they did during the depression and the war.

                Maybe the kids of these kids will get completely out of control. We can only hope.

  25. Damn, Robert Reich never ceases to amaze me with the level of his idiocy.

  26. Replace the word ‘billionaires’ with ‘Jews’ and I think we might notice some parallels.

  27. All millionaires and billionaires should taken out and shot.
    No, that doesn’t mean you Raul Castro or Mr. Maduro.
    Both of you stole, I mean, earned your money in a legitimate fashion by
    taking the time and trouble to run into the ground.
    Only nefarious capitalist are to be taken out and shot and have their money stolen from them by The State and not totalitarian, vicious and criminal dictators.

  28. Should “Billionaires Be ‘Abolished’?” Yes, start with George Soros (and family) and Tom Steyer. After that, take a break for a few decades.

  29. I thought the billionaires were the ones who were going to pay for all her socialistic ideas? If she gets rid of them, how’s she gonna fund all of these fancy ideas of hers??? She’s a dimwit. She fits right in with the rest of the dimwit dems. They have a plan but they don’t have a plan. They don’t understand basic economics, but AOC has a degree in economics? Oh man! This is just sad.

    1. I’d wager that Boston U’s econ program has a social justice track, and that said track doesn’t have too many econ requirements.

  30. Do we really need communism?

    No.

    So let’s abolish communism.

  31. This is the politics of envy, and it is always a bad thing. X group has too much (money, power, …) so we have to punish them for being too successful.

    It was used against the Jews in Europe and in the Middle East, and that attitude is still lurking in the “Alt-Right”.

    A country that goes after a group that is perceived as “getting too much of” (power or the economy or…) soon goes into decline, as the most creative, smartest, most educated people leave. Happened to Spain after the expulsion. Most of the Middle East (outside Israel) is an economic disaster area, at least partly because they expelled the Jews, Kurds, Shiites, Sunni, or other minority group that they considered “unfair” because some (not all) of their members were rich and/or powerful.

    Don’t fall for this.

  32. Anybody got a list of democratic socialist billionaires?
    How much is ol’ Nancy worth? How many congress critters are in the evil 1%, or merely mean spirited 5%?

    What the hell; looked it up (sort of, hard to find current numbers)
    In 2014, Roll Call estimated that Pelosi’s net worth was 29.35 million, ranking her the 15th wealthiest member of Congress. Roll Call reported that the Pelosis have $13.46 million in liabilities including mortgages on seven properties. According to Roll Call, Pelosi and her husband hold properties “worth at least $14.65 million, including a St. Helena vineyard in Napa Valley worth at least $5 million, and commercial real estate in San Francisco.”

    (some sites went as high as 29 million; a lot depends on how you value the half of San Francisco they own.)

  33. Put ’em up against The Wall.

  34. If the left comes into office would they tax the daylights out of a Steve Jobs after he makes his first $100,000? Do they have a clue that this would mean no iPhone, iPad, etc.

    Do they have a clue?

  35. “Why should anyone have a billion dollars,” asks Manjoo, “why should anyone be proud to brandish their billions, when there is so much suffering in the world?”

    Let me answer that question by posing another: “Why should anyone ask silly questions when there is so much suffering in the world?”

  36. I don’t think I am wrong to suspect that Paul McCartney does more benefit to people by his use of his money, than the government would do by confiscating and redistributing wasting it.

    Creators and entrepeneurs make wealth and spread it around to the masses. Governments stifle creation of wealth and spread poverty to the masses through wastefulness and destruction.

    I am waiting to see if they target Michael Bloomberg. Take his wealth and redistribute it. Everyone in the world gets a Happy Meal. Yeah! Then what’s for dinner? George Soros?

  37. What will they do when all of the billionaire leave the country en masse. They are certainly capable of moving to, and living anywhere in the world they choose to.
    These are the kind of people who are more than capable of hiding their wealth in off shore accounts. AOC and her ilk will not get a penny more out of these billionaires than then themselves are willing to pay. Such taxation regimes inevitably result in a brain drain.

    1. Simple the USA would offer trade and aid preferencal status to any nation which has a cap on excessive wealth. Never understood how any nation can justify Billionaires when millions are starving.
      Aren’t US citizens taxed and foreign assets?

  38. Here is the politicians creed on wealth:
    Anyone with more than me is evil, bad and exploiting others.
    Anyone with less than me is lazy and needs to get off his ass and work harder.

  39. What these morons don’t understand is that America is still the most heavily (civilian) armed land mass on the planet. I fear that we are heading towards a full-blown civil war. As high-profile figures, even their taxpayer-funded protection will likely not save them.

  40. This is 100% envy and rabble rousing. If you look at the Forbes 400, it’s mostly people who have built large, successful businesses in their lifetimes, created a lot of social value, and employed a lot of people. Robert Reich is a particularly nasty human being, with no regard for fact.

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  42. Google paid for every week online work from home 8000 to 10000 dollars.i have received first month $24961 and $35274 in my last month paycheck from Google and i work 3 to 5 hours a day in my spare time easily from home. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it..go to this site for more details…

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  43. I see your using the Good King argument to justify Paul McCartney’s Billions but what happens when we have a not so good king?
    Imagine if the 2nd amendment allowed a pre selected few to privatily own nuclear missiles.
    Or a system that allows one 10 votes, a 100 votes or even a 1000.
    The main reasons to limit how much any one person can possess is simple economics and fairness the 2nd which I got mine screw everyone else Libertarians will never understand.
    Economics 101: The more resources one person has the less everyone else has and multi Billionaires take this extreme to new levels by concentrating too much wealth and power in the hands of too few.
    Checks and balances were created to limit the power of Kings then divide the power of our government and to prevent the tyranny of the majority. What’s needed now is a system of economic checks and balances to rein In excessive greed the Achille’s Heel of Capitalism.

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