mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Hey, Dirty, I got your money...

via NewFeed, I found this silly article about how it takes a village to make a millionaire.

The article starts out by asking some poor kids if they think they will ever be millionaires. They say yes, and the aricle goes on to dash their dreams by saying that they won't be because America isn't wealthy enough, because too many kids inherited their wealth, and finds a couple rich people to say it's true.

The study is by United for a Fair Economy which is filled with articles on how people with money don't deserve it and shouldn't get to keep it.

The article has a quote from Google founder Eric Schmidt, who says Lots of people who are smart and work hard and play by the rules don't have a fraction of what I have," Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, told Forbes Magazine in 2001. "I realize I don't have my wealth because I am so brilliant."

Eric, you discredit yourself. Sure, lots of people work hard and are smart, but you came up with products that made the world a better place, made it easier to find information, and made people's lives easier. You also found an advertising model to support it that was better tageted and less intrusive than any other. You made internet surfing and information hunting better, and the market rewarded you for it. Be proud of that.

The article also says he doesn't deserve it all because the government funds internet research. They also fund the arts, but I don't see anyone saying that that's why 50 cent is rich.

It says that 1/3 of the people on the Forbes 400 were born on the list. OK, but how long will they stay there? Inheriting wealth is easy, but keeping it is harder. Do you think Paris Hilton will do as good a job running Hilton Hotels as her father did?

It then follows with this confusing statement: . Another quarter inherited a small business, oil lands, or perhaps had well-to-do parents able to provide an expensive education and family friends helpful in a business career.

If I understand their math, that's 33% plus 25%, which is 58%. If that means 43% of people got to be among the richest 400 people in the country on their own, that's damn impressive. Note the inequality of their statements. Inheriting an oil field is a gift not many people get, but a decent college education is in reach for the entire middle class. As far as a small business, you don't get on the Forbes 400 running the neighborhood hardware store. These people may have inherited a small business, but they turned it into a huge one by providing stuff that people in the village wanted to buy.

In that vein, the article also includes this quote: For example, prosperous parents give their children a head start by buying homes in a good school district, financing college, and contributing to the purchase of a child's first house or condominium.

Much of those things sound like middle-class things to do, not just things the rich do. As far as college, there are so many college-backed scholarships, other scholarships, federal loans, government-subsidized state colleges, and other ways of getting money that it's hard to imagine that anyone who has half a brain and wants to go to college can't. Helping your kids make a down payment on a house is nice, and it might make your kid a little more comfortable, but it's not going to make him rich.

It ads that the rich benefit from government in terms of , may benefit from the free-enterprise system, financial markets, democracy, law and order, a public school system, libraries, museums, and other aspects of modern society. and thus should embrace income-reallocating taxes.

Nice how it manages to list most of the things that conservatives and even libertarians think government should do - enforce laws. I can't imagine that too many large business owners did it because there were museums. But it skips the things that conservatives and business owners complain about - a tax system that isn't always understandable or fair, regulations that make it difficult to run a business, and government programs that take their hard earned money and give it to the politcally well connected.

UEF's website has lots more stuff that looks like future MadAnthony fodder, but I don't think I can read the words "income inequality" again without screaming.

SCSU Scholars has a good look at the income inequality arguement.


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