Skip to comments.Column: Life isn't measured by the distance between us and the super-rich
Posted on 01/24/2012 5:53:29 PM PST by cripplecreek
One of my senses failed 10 days ago as I sat in the plush comfort of Jackson Community Colleges Potter Center.
It was my sense of outrage.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow stood onstage citing a statistic when she exposed the impairment of my outrage functions.
The 400 richest people in the United States, Stabenow said, have more wealth than 150 million Americans, combined. Head-shaking and murmurs of disgust swept through the audience.
So what? I thought. It was a total failure to generate outrage.
Stabenow's statistic was evidently discovered months ago by filmmaker Michael Moore.
Even if true the statistic rests on assumptions including Forbes Magazine is accurate estimating wealth in its Forbes 400 list so what?
Compared to me and almost everyone I know, Michael Moore himself is filthy rich.
His wealth makes no difference to my life or my prospects.
Compared to Michael Moore, Bill Gates is filthy rich. Gates, according to Forbes, has more wealth than 50,000 millionaires. Should we feel sorry for 50,000 millionaires because they cannot measure up to one guy?
Many acquaintances consider me a dimwit on this issue, and they patiently explain why the wealth gap deserves outrage.
Usually, they find it alarming that the wealth of average people has increased by a tiny percentage since the 1960s, compared to the wealth of very rich people. They fear the middle class is worse off.
My outrage is impaired because I am old enough to actually remember the 1960s, when I was a middle-class child of two school teachers.
My next-door neighbors had no septic system, so they used an outhouse and caught wastewater in a bucket beneath the kitchen sink. Air conditioning was a luxury found almost nowhere except movie theaters and fancy stores. Flying on airplanes was rare and exotic. A household with two televisions was opulent. Except for truck drivers, eating in restaurants was an extravagance reserved for special occasions. If anyone in town traveled once a year to Las Vegas, which they did not, we would have suspected they were secretly either rich or gangsters. I could go on, but I won't.
We are not worse off today because rich people are richer than ever. We are better off, for what should be obvious reasons.
Few average people would trade our lives today for the lives of average people in the 1960s.
When that stops being true, Ill be outraged.
I posted the whole thing because I thought Flory's comments were on target but as always be sure to go to the site to see the outraged comments of our local liberals.
I don't suppose she mentioned that if the government confiscated every cent of wealth of those 400 richest people, it wouldn't cover the budget deficit for even one year.
Of course not. When stirring class resentment its best not to insert reality into the argument.
I’m guessing that she didn’t mention that her workplace has an extraordinary number of millionaires among her co workers either.
Flory is right. I’m only 48 and remember my grandfather putting a bathroom in the last house in town with an outhouse in the mid 70s. In the mid 80s the house across the road from us didn’t have an indoor bathroom.
The 400 richest people in the United States, Stabenow said, have more wealth than 150 million Americans
Obviously, for this sentence to make any sense, they must be counting the 150 POOREST americans. Since the majority of those 150 million americans have net worths LESS THAN ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS, and many of them will have NEGATIVE NET WORTH...I don’t see anything impressive or astonishing about that statement...other than the fact that we have a lot of REALLY STUPID REALLY WORTHLESS people in this country.
You’re kidding me? Michigander here and I love to read Brad...CITpat gets hit hard by the Liberals on Mlive comments...
The rich should be called the really good with money that know how to allocate capital so it isn’t wasted. We should put more money under their control so we can all become wealthier. The government on the other hand holds the record for destroying wealth. The more the government gets their hands on the poorer we become.
Brad is a common sense guy.
He is so right!
I could have been one of his neighbors. I can remember living in a house with no bathroom, cold running water in the kitchen, and cracks in the floor you could see through. I can remember getting our first telephone (on a party line) and our first TV. Even when we moved to a house with plumbing, we had no air conditioning nor central heat. I was almost a teenager before I ever went to a restaurant or a movie, and was almost grown before I ever stayed in a motel or hotel.
I'm not rich now, but quality of life is tremendously better. Not only is is much better for me, but it is for most people.
Many don't realize that "poor" people here in the US tend to have more modern conveniences and a higher standard of living than most people in most other places in the world.
The author makes another great point: wealth isn't a zero-sum game. Every dollar that Bill Gates makes does not take a dollar away from someone else. If I do well in life and make money, that does not cause someone else somewhere else to do poorly.
That is an economic concept that is not well understood. If if were, it would be much harder to preach the politics of envy.
There is an exception...
If the rich person got rich by burying his money in the backyard and never spending it, then he is getting rich by taking money from others.
I recently ran across an observation that "If you flush your toilet with drinking water ... you're not poor".
Half the people on the planet live on less than $2/day. If you’re making on the order of more than 100 times $730/year, don’t complain that others make more than you.
Compared to me and almost everyone I know, Michael Moore himself is filthy rich. His wealth makes no difference to my life or my prospects.
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