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The Liberal Mind
Townhall.com ^ | December 8, 2012 | John C. Goodman

Posted on 12/08/2012 6:51:38 AM PST by Kaslin

Have you ever noticed that people who worry about inequality seem to be focused only on certain kinds of inequality? When they obsess about the income and wealth of the top 1%, they seem to be bothered by only some of those at the top, and not others.

For example, have you ever seen Robert Reich or Paul Krugman or any like-minded complainer bemoan the huge salaries of professional athletes? What about the stratospheric incomes of rock stars? Or movie idols? Or super models?

Even more puzzling, when is the last time you saw any of them assailing worthless heirs? I would guess that a large share of mega gifts to Barack Obama's presidential campaign came from "trust fund babies." These are people who are living (and living well) off the assets created by some deceased capitalist. All too many of the heirs spend a good part of their lives giving personal and foundation money to…well…to promote socialism.

Shouldn't there be a Hall of Shame (and maybe an annual award for the most shameless) to draw attention to the activities of those who use the fruits of capitalism to try to destroy it?

Something else is odd about the sociology of the anti-inequality crowd. They seem to be unfazed by inequality created by government.

Take the recent Powerball outcome. At $588 million, it was the largest lottery prize in history ? to be shared by two ticketholders. In essence, hundreds of millions of dollars are being transferred from mostly low-income families in order to create a few super rich individuals. As I wrote previously:

I can't think of any single act of government that creates more inequality than the lottery — at least per dollar raised and spent. Think about it. Thousands of (mostly below-average income) people buy tickets and, after the drawing, one of them becomes immensely wealthy…

I can't think of anything in the private sector that even begins to compare to this reverse Robin Hood redistribution from the poor to the rich and the nouveau riche. And remember, in order to pull it off, government first has to establish a monopoly, keeping private competitors (who would at least raise the poor bettor's expected return) out of the market.

Then there is the entire structure of elderly entitlements. They mainly take from people who have less and give to people who have more. Social Security, for example, is funded by a regressive tax on wages and is distributed to the population group that has the lowest poverty rate of all. It's not just Warren Buffett who is on the receiving end. In general, the greater your lifetime income, the larger your monthly benefit. Medicare is also funded by a regressive tax on wages. Although the benefits are supposed to be uniform, in reality the zip codes where the largest Social Security checks are cashed are the places that spend the most on health care for the elderly.

Think about that last finding for a moment. Throughout the country, families who are struggling to get by and who cannot afford to buy their own health insurance are paying 15% of their income to fund hip and knee replacements for our true leisure class, so they can get back out on the golf course.

I suspect you could put a 50% tax on all the professional athlete income above $1 million and it wouldn't change the outcome of a single football game. Similarly, I think you could really sock it to Hollywood and even the idle rich without too much economic harm.

But when Paul Krugman writes about the top 1%, this is not who he has in mind. He is complaining about the incomes of people who run large companies. He wants their tax rate to be 91%!

I think Ayn Rand may have been right. The left is populated by people who are not especially bothered by those who become wealthy by virtue of birth or luck or good fortune. They do not even seem to be bothered by the winner-take-all feature of professional sports that confers millions of dollars on some athletes while those who were almost as good languish in near poverty. No, who they obsess about are the creators, the builders, the entrepreneurs.

They don't hate the wealthy who don't deserve their wealth. They hate the wealthy who do deserve it.

Postscript: an exception to what I have just written is Joe Nocera, an economics writer for The New York Times. Last Saturday, he wrote:

[L]otteries may well be the single most insidious way that state governments raise money. Many of the people who buy lottery tickets are poor; lotteries are essentially a form of regressive taxation. The odds against winning a big jackpot are astronomical — far worse than the odds at an Atlantic City slot machine. The get-rich-quick marketing — by government, let's not forget — is offensive.

Nocera writes about

[A] recent e-book written by Don McNay entitled, "Life Lessons From the Lottery." McNay is a financial adviser and newspaper columnist, based in Kentucky, whom I've gotten to know over the years. He specializes in helping people who have come into sudden money. He is convinced that the vast majority of people who win big-money lotteries, like the recent Powerball prize, wind up broke within five years. "The money just overwhelms them," he told me the other day. "It just causes them to lose their sense of values."



TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: anticapitalist; capitalism; government; incomeinequality; liberalism

1 posted on 12/08/2012 6:51:44 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Let the government confiscate 90% of the fortunes of Barbara Streisand, Robert Redford, Will.I.Am., Noam Chomsky, and Michael Moore and maybe we’ll see some reaction.


2 posted on 12/08/2012 6:58:55 AM PST by A_perfect_lady (Great nations are born stoic and die epicurean. -Will Durant)
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To: Kaslin
"The money just overwhelms them," he told me the other day. "It just causes them to lose their sense of values."

More likely it just exposes their lack of values.

3 posted on 12/08/2012 7:02:39 AM PST by Trailerpark Badass (So?)
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To: A_perfect_lady

You left out members of unions and government employees.

Then you would hear some REAL squealing.


4 posted on 12/08/2012 7:03:35 AM PST by unixfox (Abolish Slavery, Repeal The 16th Amendment!)
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To: A_perfect_lady

Don’t forget Jon Stewart. He’s always begging to be taxed. Just take it all.


5 posted on 12/08/2012 7:27:40 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Trailerpark Badass
Having seen some people get very rich very fast, I'd say it's some of both. Unearned or too-easily earned money can make people kind of crazy who might not have gone nuts otherwise. You see it when someone thinks they can sue a fortune out of someone else. You see it in lawyers who get a big windfall out of one questionable case...look at the Edwards of North Carolina.

I'd say it happens more often than not, this madness induced by wealth. And the exceptions prove the rule. Rush Limbaugh seems to have held on to his sanity while garnering some exceptionally fine rewards.

6 posted on 12/08/2012 7:33:26 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Kaslin

7 posted on 12/08/2012 7:59:28 AM PST by Gritty (I enjoy living in the 3rd World. Soon Americans will be able to do so from the comfort of home-FReed)
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To: Gritty

8 posted on 12/08/2012 8:08:17 AM PST by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Mamzelle

He sure has. He’s still the kind of guy you’d want to sit down and have beer with.


9 posted on 12/08/2012 8:17:00 AM PST by equaviator (There's nothing like the universe to bring you down to earth.)
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To: Kaslin

Screw the incomes of the top 1% of the top 1%—we don’t ACTUALLY PAY their salaries.

Go after the Gummint workers AND THEIR HUGE STOCK OF BENNIES.

THAT’s what’s costing us BIG TIME.


10 posted on 12/08/2012 8:23:07 AM PST by Flintlock (PARANOIA--means having all the facts.)
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To: unixfox

And let’s not forget about the administrators of our elitist colleges and universities. Talk about being overpaid for no results!


11 posted on 12/08/2012 8:42:54 AM PST by bushbuddy
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To: Kaslin

Some of this certainly makes sense, particularly the rich who never get criticized, such as rock stars or Hollywood liberals.

But as it proceeds, it gets more and more involved in greed and envy of its own.

Especially when it comes to social security and medicare.

“Then there is the entire structure of elderly entitlements. They mainly take from people who have less and give to people who have more. Social Security, for example, is funded by a regressive tax on wages and is distributed to the population group that has the lowest poverty rate of all. It’s not just Warren Buffett who is on the receiving end. In general, the greater your lifetime income, the larger your monthly benefit. Medicare is also funded by a regressive tax on wages. Although the benefits are supposed to be uniform, in reality the zip codes where the largest Social Security checks are cashed are the places that spend the most on health care for the elderly.”

Total nonsense. I spent a whole lifetime paying into the social security bottomless well, and in return I got far less than I would have gotten investing it in my own retirement fund. And I also spent decades paying into LBJ’s medicare fund. In return, I seem to be getting less and less, and my doctor is getting screwed every time they “adjust” his bill.

There are two forces destroying these entitlement programs. Illegals and others who never put anything in but get tons out, regardless. And congresscritters who use the “trust fund” to pay for their pork programs and then pretend that there is some sort of retirement fund which never existed, because every year they spent whatever was put into it on their own stuff.

It seems to be more and more common to pretend that medicare and social security are identical to welfare. They are not. Because their recipients paid in for years, unlike welfare recipients. Except, of course, those who somehow get into the programs without paying in first—courtesy of the political buddies.


12 posted on 12/08/2012 9:18:25 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Kaslin; ding_dong_daddy_from_dumas; stephenjohnbanker; DoughtyOne; Gilbo_3; NFHale; Impy; AuntB; ...
Speaking of ‘inequality’. the Dems are all worked up over the SCOTUS taking the case of the lawsuit against a ban on gay-marriage in a state, They are actually hoping the SCOTUS imposes gay-marriage on the rest (majority) of the states.

Lot of 1950s and 60s civil rights nostalgia being thrown around on MSNBC over this case. You know those states rights are evil... Oh, but they (MSNBC hosts) also say its none of the Feds business if states like CA want drugs legal, hey they got to defend those states rights you know....

Example MSNBC lib law expert said "I don't think that justice Kennedy wants to be caught on the wrong side of History on this one"

13 posted on 12/08/2012 9:45:54 AM PST by sickoflibs (Dems know how to win. Rs know how to whine.)
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To: Kaslin

Good one.


14 posted on 12/08/2012 4:50:00 PM PST by 4Liberty (Some on our "Roads & Bridges" head to the beach. Others head to their offices, farms, libraries....)
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