Hatred of EARNED affluence, the last socially acceptable form of bigotry. #tlot Retweet
My article “Perry Willis beats Bill Maher with a stick” got a lot of attention. Most loved it. But some objected. Repeatedly, the objectors said…
Many rich people got that way using The State to rob people.
I couldn’t agree more!
Some rich people are political cronies. They use The State to loot the American economy and cripple their competitors. They and their political pals are no better than gangsters. But please notice what I said in the Maher article…
Hatred of EARNED affluence is the bigotry of the Left.
Please notice the word EARNED. I was defending earned affluence, not cronyism nor legalized plunder.
But do you know who does NOT make the distinction between earned and unearned?
Bill Maher doesn’t. The Left doesn’t.
When Bill Maher recommended beating rich people with a stick, he didn’t distinguish between those who had earned their wealth and those who had not.
The Left, as a whole, doesn’t make that distinction either. They complain about the “1%” as if it’s some monolith.
Opposing a whole group of people because of some characteristic they share is the very definition of bigotry.
But there’s another way you can know that bigotry is involved…
If the Left really only objected to unearned wealth, then they would focus their anger on cronyism. But they don’t.
Cronyism is a word libertarians use, not the Left, because…
Cronyism derives from Left-statist policies!
The Left loves bailouts. They celebrate subsidies. They embrace trade restrictions. And what would the Left be without big statist programs that reward big contracts?
The Left’s policies are what makes cronyism possible, so how could they focus their resentment in that direction? It’s too dangerous. Objecting to cronyism could unravel their whole statist enterprise. So…
- What the Left really hates is rich people, of any variety.
- And what the Left really loves is violence. All their “solutions” are violence-based.
That’s why Bill Maher wants to beat rich people with a stick. That’s why everyone on the Left wants to raise taxes on the rich. I stand by my original claim…
Hatred of earned affluence is the bigotry of the Left.
It’s also the last socially acceptable form of bigotry remaining in America.
We want to change that. We want to shine a light on the Left’s bigotry, and hound it from the face of the Earth. We also want to send cronyism to the dustbin of history.
You can help us…
- Share “Perry Willis beats Bill Maher with a stick”
- Forward this message to others.
- And consider making a contribution to promote our work.
ZAP The State and have a nice day,
Co-creator, the Zero Aggression Project
I question whether people who got their wealth through State cronyism should be condemned either. The State system put the money on the table, you’re a fool if you don’t take it. If you don’t, the next person will. Successful species are those that adapt best to their ecosystems, and as long as we have an ecosystem that hands out money to well-connected people, it only makes sense to become well-connected so you can get your piece of it.
Certainly, this is a step down the moral ladder from earning money by producing something for the betterment of society, but I don’t see the point in condemning people for doing what’s best for them. The solution to the evil of the State is to get rid of the State, not chip away at the parasites who thrive from it.
Paul, We wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I made the very same point during a guest host appearance on the Gary Nolan Show earlier this month. The subject matter was criticism of the Koch brothers. One of them had decried subsidies to business and said they should be ended. But they were indeed taking a few million per year in subsidies. If we could get everyone to agree, or even a sufficient number of us, that this should end — that we’ll give up the subsidy — then the right result could occur. It’s funny, but the very things politicians fund the most, costs the most, making the subsidy near-necessity. If they weren’t, as Harry Browne said, “Breaking our legs, then handing us a pair of crutches,” then we would walk fine and even have the strength to assist others.
“You’re a fool if you don’t take it.”
It is exactly this kind of thinking that is ruining our nation. Back when the government’s biggest welfare program (Social Security) was created they (the Roosevelt administration) had to convince people that they had an “account” and that the benefits were earned because Americans were just too proud to take a hand out. FDR stated:
“Our American aged do not want charity, but rather old age comforts to which they are rightfully entitled by their own thrift and foresight in the form of insurance.”
We should all know that Social Security is an inter-generational transfer payment from the young to the old. I simply provide this as evidence of the moral collapse of our nation and its people that currently people are thought of as FOOLS if they don’t take money from the government when they don’t really need it.
You can be welfare queen but I don’t think that makes you smart.
It certainly is bigotry to lump the entire 1% into the same category. Within the 1% are indeed people who acquired their wealth unfairly and those who truly earned that wealth. The blog post covers one route to wealth that could be considered unfair–cronyism–but does not consider other unfair means of acquiring wealth.
The issue of fairness and unfairness is complex and difficult to study rationally because judgments of fairness are colored by emotions. I tried to outline in a white paper some criteria that are consistent with libertarian principles for what could be considered fair and unfair ways of acquiring wealth. The full paper is available at http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/j/5/j5j/papers/ConferencePapers/2011NEEPS.pdf .
Briefly, my hypothesis is that that most people would judge a method of wealth acquisition to be fair if all parties (a) participate voluntarily without duress; (b) are not deceived; and (c) believe that the value of what they receive is roughly equal to or greater than the value of what they exchange for it. I don’t think this proposal is too controversial and would be acceptable to non-libertarians as well as libertarians.
However, my proposal also suggests that there are a number of perfectly legal methods of acquiring wealth that I believe to violate the above principles on close examination. They include inheritance, lending with interest, fractional reserve banking, exotic financial derivatives, and insurance. I suspect that many libertarians would take issue with this part of my proposal, while some leftists might agree with some of them. For example, I think that many leftists would claim that wealth disparity is largely caused by social class differences. If you are lucky to be born into a rich family and you inherit that wealth (which you, as a child born into the family did not earn), this gives you an unfair head start over those born into poor families. I think that’s why leftists want to redistribute wealth, to erase social classes. I do not agree with that proposal, yet I do think that inherited wealth is not earned and is therefore unfair.
I welcome feedback on my proposal, which I do not see as the final word on economic fairness.
John, If I _earned_ my wealth, and then I decided to buy a car with it, is that okay? I’m assuming you’d say, “Sure!” Well, if during my lifetime, I decided to give money to someone as a gift, would that be okay? Keep in mind. They didn’t EARN it.
Jim, even more to your point, if we were not allowed to give money to people who didn’t earn it, all charity would be forbidden.
I want to be free to do whatever I want with my earned wealth, including leaving it to my family. I imagine that most people in every wealth percentile feel the same way. As my white paper indicated, this is a biological imperative.
That’s why I spent little space analyzing the fairness of inheritance. More important than whether parents leave their wealth to their children is the fairness by which the parents acquired their wealth in the first place.
Hi John, it seems to me that all of your examples actually comply with your three standards for what constitutes fairness, including even fractional reserve banking. Fractional reserve banking is perfectly fine morally if depositors know that their money is going to be loaned out, and may not be instantly available should they try to withdraw it. And most people understand that this could happen. The real problem is that State regulations make no room for banks that simply serve as money depositors and payment processors. Were such banks allowed to exist I would certainly keep some of my funds in that kind of bank, and the rest in a traditional fractional reserve system, as each type of institution would fill a different role for me.
However, your point about how the Left perceives inheritance is certainly correct. Alas, it doesn’t work very well for describing actual outcomes. Yes, children who start out in more affluent households tend to do better overall, but there are too many counter-examples of people working their way up from nothing, and also a great many examples of people who lose their inherited wealth fairly quickly.
In addition, it isn’t at all clear that the vast array of transfer programs favored by the Left actually do anything to give poor young people a better start in life. For instance, State schools in poor areas tend to be worse than State schools in more affluent areas. And for every program that transfers money from the more affluent to the less affluent, there is is another that transfers wealth in the other direction. And the Left seems to make little effort to correct these flaws. They seem to NOT care if or how a program actually works, so long as the program professes noble sounding intentions, or was championed by a politician perceived to be on their side.
Perry, I am interested in what people from different walks of life consider to be fair or unfair, so I was fascinated to find that you perceived all of my examples of potentially unfair wealth acquisition to meet the three standards of fairness. I think that reasonable people can disagree on perceptions of fairness, and I am just beginning to explore those differences in perceptions.
I am well-aware that there are counter-examples of people who work their way up from nothing to great wealth and people born into wealth who lose it. I think children inherit biologically-based talents and dispositions that incline them toward success or failure, and some poor kids are blessed with a lucky combination of genes while some rich kids are dealt a lousy genetic hand. Pure circumstantial luck also plays a factor, just like the draw in poker. The question is exactly how many counter-examples are there, and what is the precise contribution of inborn factors, family wealth, and random events. That is an empirical question to which I have no answer.
My sense is that most transfer of money programs have negligible positive effects and are incredibly wasteful because they are run by politicians who are not held accountable for results. So I cannot endorse simply taking money from some to give to others.
This does not mean that I think the current game of life is fair. In Monopoly, every player starts with $1500. There’s a lot of luck in the game and a little bit of strategy from investment decisions. We consider the game fair because each player starts with the same amount of money. If, instead, one player out of five started with $6,375 (that is, the top 20% began with 85% of the wealth) while the other four players began with $281.25, the game would hardly be considered fair. And if new players replaced the starting players, inheriting their wealth, the game would remain unfair.
I do not think that wealth inequality will ever be eradicated, nor do I think it is necessarily a good idea to try to eradicate it. I also think that current governmental policies to reduce poverty are generally unhelpful. I do not have solutions, but (through the Monopoly analogy) I at least understand the deep concern of leftists who want to reduce wealth inequality, however misguided their programs might be.
A childhood friend who suffers schizophrenia had a serious relapse after asking me why I am Libertarian.
I gave a matter-of-fact answer, that I thought coercion is wrong. We had a disscussion about what “coercion meant”. My friend understood and fell silent. Very silent. 2 days later police were called to my friend’s apartment, because she was throwing her furniture out the 4th floor windows.
To really understand Leftist bigotry (my childhood friend is Leftist and bigoted), one has to realize that some of us confuse anger and rage, with satisfaction. The reality of anger and rage is that a lot of stuff gets damaged and people get hurt. Rage does not genuinely create anything of value that actually helps meet anyone’s needs. By conflating the need to acknowledge failure—a necessary pre-condition to asking others for help is admitting that one needs help—with a violent outburst of rage, Statists of all varieties confuse the relief they feel from expressing their anger, with the productive processes that result in greater satisfaction. Anger is unavoidable…we get frustrated and that makes us angry. Moving beyond the anger and doing something useful about one’s troubles, is the key to repeated success. Unfortunately, that’s a skill that Statists lack, and government schools do poorly at teaching. We genuinely need to know when to ask others for help. Understanding that making them afraid to help us by violently lashing out, interferes with getting help, would make violent “solutions” to poverty look just as dumb as they reallly are.
John, I’m interested in how you perceive insurance to be unfair albeit legal? If a person working a job that’s risky chooses to take out medical or life insurance freely in the event of an unforeseen tragedy, is that not his choice and does it not harm others? As a matter of fact, does his choice not encourage others to take similar risks to the stability of society? Isn’t it more fair that the state mandating that he or his employer carry insurance or the state taxing everyone to cover such unexpected costs?
Perhaps the question goes to just what is insurance? Was it not originally meant to be shared risk by a group in the event one suffers a specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of an agreed upon premium? Could that premium be money or even a pledge of labor or supplies such as some Amish communities practice? Or did I misunderstand your position?
Full disclosure – After I retired from the US Air Force, a branch of a behemoth that was at times too involved in overseas adventurism, I worked as a life, property, auto, and homeowners insurance agent until I had to rely on insurance to take care of my medical needs after a heart attack.
Also, how is lending at interest unfair? If an individual sees a need for something others might need but that he might not, say a transcontinental high speed railway, but is willing to help finance it by lending to developers, is that not good for the public at large rather than government efforts that tend, as you rightly point out, to be expensive boondoggles?
Hi Roberto. I do not think that insurance or lending at interest is inherently unfair. It depends on how the transactions are made. If, for example, a borrower does not fully understand compounding of interest, there is a problem. I discuss this in the paper I linked to before, http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/j/5/j5j/papers/ConferencePapers/2011NEEPS.pdf . I also have another paper strictly on insurance: http://drj.virtualave.net/anti-insurance.html . Again, I have nothing against insurance per se. I have family who have worked in insurance. It all depends on how the transactions are conducted.
Thanks. I must agree that how an insurance transaction, as with all transactions, is conducted is vital. Full disclosure, including the importance that a client understands the details critical to a fair honest transaction.
Still, I believe you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what PURE insurance is or how it operates.
I’d like to add to my comment above in response to your “An Anti-Insurance Manifesto.” It was quite a diatribe against a well constructed boogeyman. Your disclaimer that, “I do not think that insurance or lending at interest is inherently unfair, ” is belied by your screed.
As I mentioned, you seem to fail to understand what true insurance is or its needs in society. Instead you major on fraud and crime, problems in ALL endeavors of human activity.
Most telling, you believe that peace of mind and/or safety from possible disasters are not a bona fide products or services. You seem fixated on the idea that insurance, be it life, auto, or home, is fraud, a scam.
I doubt I can dissuade you of your extreme libertarian, should a I say near Marxist, beliefs. I won’t argue that the problems you mention don’t exist or are not serious, especially because of government intervention. I too wish there was a unicorn that could restore health or property without costs. But until we get to heaven, such miracles aren’t to be.
A large part of economic debate is over the issue of “fair price” (the value of what they receive is roughly equal to or greater than the value of what they exchange for it). Adam Smith set forth the free market as the determiner, Karl Marx argued that because of “excess unemployment” which underpays labor because it suppresses competition for labor by always keeping people willing to work for low wages opposed to being unemployed. Then we get the whole issue of monopolistic and oligopolistic market practices. Then there is the whole issue of perfect knowledge (knowing what everyone else is earning etc.). Fair is a concept that is frequently in the eyes of the beholder. Is $15/hr a fair wage? For all of the country?
On the issue of excess labor I think the Fed may very well be the entity which makes sure this happens. As a neo-classical economist I used to think Marx was all washed up on this theory. However I recently heard a discussion with a Fed Board Member explaining one of their goals is to set market interest rates at such a level so as to keep the markets from overheating by achieving full employment (other than structural unemployment due to moves, job changes etc.)
For laborers everywhere this should be of concern because by keeping the market from demanding more labor they do in fact artificially suppress wages by driving down the demand for labor curve.
My view as a psychologist is that fairness is indeed in the eyes of the beholder. My research is aimed at understanding how people come to their subjective perceptions of fairness, not to argue for an objective definition of fairness. Others can address that issue, if they are interested.
I appreciate, and enjoy, the Zero Aggression mailings, which I read daily ( as well as Lew Rockwell’s and Justin Raimondo’s sites). About the left’s attitude towards “earned wealth”: it seems to me exceptions are always given to certain sources of earned wealth: celebrities, for example, artists, musicians, anybody associated with mass media. I was going to include the political class, but that is obviously unearned wealth. Sports may be or may not be in this excepted category: I am thinking about the fuss over Tom Brady. There is a satiric treatment of the left’s acceptance of unearned wealth and certain kinds of earned wealth in one of David Lodge’s novels (Small World, I think) where an Italian ultra left theoretician, Fulvia Morgana, explains to an American academic, stunned by her opulence, that (a) her wealth is inherited, (b) she knows how to enjoy it, and (c) why not, since, as a Marxist, she is convinced that individuals can do nothing to overthrow oppressive economic systems. Maybe the ideological position of the celebrity is what accounts for the exceptional treatment accorded to that individual by the egalitarians. Or maybe some need that the individual supplies for the left, analogous to the National Socialist willingness to overlook ethnic genealogy when necessity so predicated. I believe that the theoretical grounding for this comes from Marx himself, who appears to have objected to unequal wealth generally when it arose from “exploitation”: the wealth accruing to the capitalist as a result of “consuming labor power”. Although many years have passed since I read him, I recall that Mises has something to say about this in his Anti Capitalist Mentality.
Great comments, Bill. No doubt there will be people who would say that income in particular occupational categories is unearned, or that people are paid more than they are worth. This will be a function of differences in values. I daresay that many people (mostly on the right) would regard me as overpaid for what I used to do when I was employed as a university professor. Especially when I encouraged students to think for themselves. My only response would be that my job was based on voluntary transactions and that salaries are based on the market. I have my own biases and I agree that the income of politicians is unearned because our transactions with them are not voluntary. We do not negotiate tax rates and often end up with “products” that we do not want.
By the way, I know that Perry’s post focused on bigotry of the left, and I think that such bigotry and hypocrisy deserves to be exposed. At the same time, I find bigotry and hypocrisy all over the political spectrum, possibly even in my own libertarian-ish views. I therefore welcome the insights of others into my current positions, which are always subject to change. I also look for common ground with people of all political stripes, even those on the extreme right or left who constantly demonize the other end of the spectrum. I enjoy the challenge of finding ways for diverse people to coexist peacefully.
I just have to comment on your salary as a professor as being based on market values. But first off, I find teaching to be an honorable endeavor, essential to the advancement of true civilization, generally speaking. My wife was an excellent teacher in primary schools.
However, could it not be argued you earned more than you were worth due to the involvement of the government in federal loans and grants? Did not the influx of federal money give higher institutions of learning incentive to inflate student tuitions and salaries of professors? After all, we see today that many student loans go unpaid, often because the curriculum didn’t provide a pathway to meaningful employment. Didn’t boondoggle research grants to universities by the government add to the pressure to raise salaries to attract better talent?
Now I won’t ask you if you thought you needed combat pay as I believe some teachers deserve.
Professor Johnson, are you sure that your salary was market based? Really in the market of post secondary school education which is incredibly subsidized. The simple fact that there are federally guaranteed loans distorts the marked incredibly. Then consider the fact that a very substantial amount of the fixed cost of educational institutions is underwritten by the public (as in all partly governmentally funded institutions) which would cut into the funds available to pay salaries. Then let us not forget the whole concept of tenure. Are you really arguing that “free markets” set the wages/salaries of faculty in our colleges? It may be trending more that way but there is a very long way to go. This is true even if your university did not take in a single governmental dime (including guaranteed loans to largely unsophisticated purchasers) because it was in a market where almost all other participants do.
PS I am not arguing that a public post secondary education is not a “public good” that should in part be underwritten by the public because on whole our society benefits from such institutions. I am merely asserting that when there are “public goods” involved the free markets do not address those items and it is wrong to assert that wages in Universities are set by a “fair market”.
I surely did not mean to imply that salaries in higher education are entirely explained by the “free market” (or even that the free market actually exists). I only meant to say that different universities offer different salaries to potential employees, based on the university’s perception of that employee’s worth.
Interestingly, when I was looking for my first job out of graduate school, both Harvard’s and Penn State’s starting salary offers were identical ($17,100).
First let us not fall into the trap of equating income with wealth.
If we really think that being TOO WEALTHY is a problem then taxing INCOME is not the solution.
Income can be the gateway to wealth if properly accumulated and invested. The one percent as presented by the LEFT is or should be an issue of WEALTH NOT INCOME.
If you close the gateway (INCOME) to the gate of becoming WEALTHY then only those who are already wealthy will be wealthy. Great WEALTH generates what is frequently referred to as “unearned income” or income that is not the result of selling ones time or talents.
It seems to me that many of the WEALTHY LEFT came into their income in ways that they consider to be (luck) fortunate. For example they became celebrity in music, acting, sports etc. and they know others that worked as hard or as little as they did and just weren’t as lucky. So they view wealth as being a toss of the dice or spin of a wheel, like winning the lottery, which most would consider as unearned because is was simply chance. Compare that with people who spent years in school and occupations sharpening their craft and slowly building their WEALTH over a long period of time through thrift, hard work, and industry. They are more likely to view this differently from someone who believes that WEALTH hits some people like a golden arrow from heaven. WEALTH comes both ways.
I think the emphasis within the comments thus far are focusing upon the wrong thing presented. Yes wealth inequality or better called wealth distribution of private parties is really not that much money to be concerned with unless you are talking about one of the banking families. Which brings me to the point I’m making. It is the rules and regulations that govern banking and finance which allow the unfair practices to occur. All of the mentioned methods of wealth acquisition revolve around banking and finance except inherited wealth. That right there should present the clear fact that it is bankers/insurance/stock exchanges/market based transactions that have one side that has very unfair advantages in the transactions. It is the banking side. I will just say bank to cover all those things of a banking nature such as market trading of any and all investments like derivatives, options, stocks, futures, options on futures, bonds, loans, treasuries, etc. The banks that lend money are allowed to charged unreasonable rates of interest and a plethora of fees on any loan, they also charge all sorts of vague charges that when asked about the answer makes no actual sense when thought of rationally or fairly(I mean what is fair about points or originating fees among about fifty others thrown in). How about the spread on options and stocks charged? The commission charges for basically doing nothing? Here’s an unrelated one, monthly phone bills and utility bills that have multitudes of fees that for years should have been going to the needs posed by dated infrastructures but instead has been pocketed leaving the infrastructures dilapidated andin much need of repair. This also applies to roadways and bridges. We all are taxed to death for these things and more yet the funds are nowhere to be found when needed because somewhere along their collection they got divvied up among someone in those positions up high enough they were able to do that.
What the problem is in these is that regulators and their regulations have become pointless due to the inflation caused by here it is….banking. Reserve banking that is and its method of currency creation that causes inflation. There is NO valid way of fairly conducting reserve banking, the winners will always be those who run or own the system. Their acquisition of wealth is unjust and immoral. It enslaves everyone who participates whether they want to or not. Thus reserve banking is a violator of many inherent rights as well as a violator of moral values and ethics. The argument that we need it to conduct our business in transactions is invalid, there is or was more than enough precious metal before inflation caused the amount needed to cover the demand an exchange of currency for metal has caused. Which is of course a problem caused entirely by one entity, the reserve banking system and its satellite banks and partners in the currency creation methods they practice.
Mr September I have also seen this happy in the conversion of charities to private corporations in the Hospital industry. Most of the Hospitals throughout the history of the United States were created as public charities with solicitations from members in a community and with a public charge. These hospitals are now being snapped up in violation of the doctrine of PUBLIC TRUST and converted into private corporate assets.
This is simply wrong.
PS your really arguing against fiat currency on the reserve currency issue we the US has really been sticking it to the rest of the world. In the early 70’s when we went off the gold standard (Nixon) we cut a deal with Saudi Arabia where they agreed to require anyone who wanted to buy their OIL had to make their purchases in US $$$. This required most nations in the world to hold currency reserves in USD $$$$. Hence when we finance government spending and increase the monitory supply (printing bonds and bills which are used in large financial transactions just like $$$) we make all dollars including those held by foreign nations and foreigners worth just a little less each time. Thus in large part we have been making other nations finance our national debt.
Setting gold, silver and other precious metals as the currency in large part eliminates a nations ability to control its economy other than through pump priming.
“The Left, as a whole, doesn’t make that distinction either. They complain about the “1%” as if it’s some monolith.”
Although I do not find it difficult to this see where you’re coming from and why you’ve mentioned it (regarding the aforementioned statement), I can’t understand how you’ve determined “The Left, as a whole” share the same distinction regarding the “1%”.
It seems to be a somewhat bigoted statement.
Hi Nick. To the extent that there is some member of the Left who does not use the term 1%, then that person may indeed not suffer from the kind of bigotry that I describe in my article. I’m sure such persons must exist, so you’re probably right that I should merely single out those members of the Left who do use the term 1%
“Many rich people got that way using The State to rob people.”
“I couldn’t agree more!”
This is mental judo! Thank you for telling it how it IS. And like william said here in the comments, unless your an “artist” the Left hates your rich guts.
If you don’t pay a debt which is reduced to a judgment the Courts will send a Sheriff out to your house to kick you out of your home (with the full threat of force including guns) and sell it to satisfy your debt. IF the underlying judgment is unfair (contract of adhesion, etc.) or unjust then YES.
This happens all the time when taxes aren’t paid but also happens with other types of debts. As an attorney I can safely say that playing field in the Courts and the Law is very heavily tilted toward the WEALTHY in most cases. How many poor people actually lobby? Fund campaigns? Do you know any poor people who get elected? How about poor judges? If the WEALTHY aren’t compassionate and moral the poor become cannon fodder and grease in the economic machinery. That is why the father of Free Market Enterprise (Adam Smith) wrote (in his Theory of Moral Sentiments) about the need for a MORAL people in order for his economic theory to function and flourish. Capitalism without morality will devour its young and old. (Not saying that Socialism is or works better. I am saying that public MORALITY is essential).
This whole article is so dumb. One of its main points is the left is violent? Thats insane. Bill Maher is a comedian. His statement is funny. He doesn’t condone violence. What a croc of shit this article is
Thanks for your comment. The Left advocates legislation to make people do things their way, as does the Right. Legislation is enforced using aggressive violence. Libertarians think violence should only be used defensively, NOT aggressively. In other words, you can use violence against a murderer or a thief, but you cannot appropriately use violence to take from the rich and give to the poor.