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Subject: qotd: John Goodman says the problem is the anti-capitalist
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:49:20 -0800
From: Don McCanne <email@example.com>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <firstname.lastname@example.org>
National Center for Policy Analysis
John Goodman's Health Policy Blog
December 10, 2012
The Anti-Capitalist Mentality
By John Goodman
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?
Even more puzzling, when is the last time you saw any of them assailing
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.
Then there is the entire structure of elderly entitlements. They mainly
take from people who have less and give to people who have more.
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
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.
(John Goodman understandably wants his comments to be read in full,
which you can do at the following link.)
Don McCanne says:
December 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm
Although everyone already understands this, it is still important to
distinguish between equality and equity. Most progressives are not
striving for equality of income and wealth, rather the goal is equity –
introduce an element of fairness in distribution.
Although sometimes expressed as an anti-corporate bias, the objection is
more to policies favoring massive perverse distributions, as from rent
seeking for instance. Rent seeking that provides little net benefit to
society while the rent seekers scoop up the wealth, to many of us
represents an intense sense of unfairness.
The work of Piketty and Saez demonstrates the unfairness that has now
become the norm. In the face of a massive transfer to the wealthy,
median household incomes are no longer enough to bring average families
the American Dream – paying for essential needs while allowing enough
for higher education of their children, adequate retirement accounts,
medical costs for those with greater needs, and perhaps even a modest
improvement in housing and transportation, and even an occasional
well-earned vacation. And keep in mind the obvious that half of all
households fall below the median.
With equitable public policies in a wealthy nation like the United
States, hard working families should be able to realize the American
Dream. That's fair. What isn't fair is for the rent seekers to establish
a plutocracy and use it to break up our unions, clobber our retirement
and health programs, ship jobs out of the country, saddle higher
education with intolerable debt, all of this and similar abuses on top
of filling their coffers with funds they have wrested away from the main
source of our productivity – the workers of America.
Inequality will always be with us, but we do need policies that increase
fairness by reducing inequity in America.
Comment: This blog on "The Anti-Capitalist Mentality" does pertain to
health care reform in that we will never have an equitable health care
system for all until we decide that equity - fairness - must be a
primary goal of public policy.