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View Diary: This week in science: billions and billionaires (107 comments)

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  •  you can only get rich by making others poor (0+ / 0-)

    There's only so much money out there.  There's only so much land and there are only so many factories.  Someone who wants to own a lot of them can only do so by making sure that other people cannot own any of them.  Diverting resources to luxuries and vanity projects means fewer resources available to meet the basic needs of regular people.  Squeezing employees to keep profits up - not least because it's just not as profitable to make a better product: stockholders (some of whom are also company executives) demand their quarterly dividends - really does "trickle down" through the whole economy, and as sales decline, everyone has to squeeze that much harder.  The entire conservative political platform works to protect and expand established wealth by depriving everyone else not just of pay and benefits, but of a voice and of control over their own destiny.  Supposedly there are more physicists and mathematicians working for Wall Street building their market models and trading algorithms than there are working in traditional science.

    Profit means getting out more than you put in, and that's unsustainable.  Eventually your consumer base will be too poor to support you anymore.  Marx figured that out 150 years ago.  Poor people are too poor for Wal-Mart and McDonalds anymore.  Yet corporate profits are back at all-time highs and you wouldn't know it unless you live in the billionaire bubble.  I read an article just last night about how the Japanese culture industry is in steep decline because its middle-class consumer base has been hugely eroded by 20 years of "lost decade" malaise; the poor don't have disposable income and the rich are too few.

    •  I don't agree that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TexasTom, Noodles, JBNathan85

      we don't live in a zero-sum game world.  And money isn't really a fundamental resource we care about (unlike time, or energy, or minerals, etc).  Money is merely how we try and measure the efficiency of how we use resources,

      There are a lot of untapped resources out there, that we can use.  

    •  I'm calling BS... (4+ / 0-)

      ...on this assertion.

      There is a type of wealth that comes entirely from making other people poorer, and the primary examples of that come from the Wall Street financiers who just manipulate and move money around.  Since they don't actually create anything, their wealth is inherently coming from someone else.

      But any time someone invents a new product or process, or brings something new and creative into the world, then the pie does indeed become bigger.  While I would not endorse everything that these guys did, I think we could make a pretty fair argument that both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs ultimately made the world as a whole wealthier, even while they also lined their own pockets.

      And I don't have a problem with that in the same way that I have a problem with some arrogant hedge fund SOB who brings home a half billion each year and acts like the world owes him everything for the fact that he's making a pile of money.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 08:31:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Apple, Microsoft coders made world wealthier (0+ / 0-)

        If anyone made the world as a whole wealthier, it was thousands and thousands of no-name employees who did the actual work of making Apple's and Microsoft's products.  I find it very hard to believe that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did tens of billions of dollars worth of software design, electrical engineering, etc. ... much less work 16 hour days at Foxconn's assembly plant.  IMO Gates and Jobs really aren't any different than the hedge funders: they got rich because they thought it was their due as CEOs - as "owners" - despite other people doing 99.999% of the work ... and society agreed with them.

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