Comments on: How the 1% think about their wealth A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: TheWerewolf Mon, 07 May 2012 17:06:18 +0000 There’s another weird disconnect in his views.

Two actually.

There’s a very American view that workers aren’t businesses. This is intensely ingrained to the point where during a speech given by G. W. Bush on the North American Border Security Treaty with Canada, he took the time to make it clear that while the treaty would make *business* mobility easier – it was not intended to and would not make *worker* mobility easier… unlike Europe where worker mobility is as easy as business mobility.

In fact, of course, a worker sells a commodity (his or her time and skills) in exchange for money. They are businesses in any real sense.

Then there’s the small ‘businessman’ who then hires workers – most employment happens there.

According to the US Census Bureau (2008 numbers), 27.25M Americans run ‘non-employer’ businesses (ie – they’re the only employee). There are only 6M businesses that employ additional workers… and of them around 3.5M (more than 1/2) only employ one to four workers.

There are only about 1000 companies that employ more than 10,000 workers.

In truth, the vast majority of businesses are small – and if we count the owners (who in many cases are the only employee as well) as workers – they and the smaller hiring companies clearly represent the ‘job creators’.. not the Mitt Romneys and big businesses like Apple.

It also doesn’t discuss the *quality* of work. WalMart is one of the single largest employers in the world. But how many of us would want to work for them (as opposed to needing work and so taking what we can get)?

Sorry, using Apple as ‘evidence’ of how well the system works is really stretching things thin.

By: KenG_CA Thu, 03 May 2012 14:58:58 +0000 I must not be so hasty with my words, TFF. No, I was saying Gates’ contribution to society was far greater than the net amount he will have extracted for personal use by the time he is gone. As he plans to give away most of his wealth, the amount that he will have consumed is much, much less than what he has added to society (and I’m not a fan of MS). Also, he has devoted his time now to carefully and efficiently distributing that wealth, and not just donating it to charities that put his name on a building (as many billionaires like to do).

I’m with you on not criticizing people for the money they make, but making money itself is not evidence of brilliance nor justification for being put on a pedestal. I think what people do with their wealth is far more important than the fact that they amassed it.

By: TFF Thu, 03 May 2012 14:22:28 +0000 KenG, I chose to respond to your comment (and I know we fundamentally agree) rather than to one with which I disagree more strongly.

I’m not going to criticize people for the money they make. Money is neither good nor evil, it can be used for either. But I will roundly criticize those who make no effort to contribute, seeking only their personal gain.

You think Bill Gates contributed so little? Not my place to judge, but he has certainly played a big role in shaping our society today.

By: youniquelikeme Thu, 03 May 2012 14:02:48 +0000 @boson is the one who hit the nail on the head. Too bad people think he was being funny…

Their grand illusions can so easily come to fruition being the SEC is ineffectual and the so many admire and feed their abilities to con with their self-importance, lack of empathy and compassion, and ambitious drive to the top as they step on anyone in their way.

They are the darlings of the financial world! Who doesn’t love a charmer who is rich, ruthless AND a winner? Isn’t there great value to that description alone? Does it really matter how they got there? They are THERE and entitled, remorse be damned! (and how dare you compare them to a common thief or call them banksters!)

And way to go @Y2K, a banker who sees the importance of those $$ signs! Keep reminding us that immoral capitalism is the new social contract and who are the heroes we should be worshiping! Hopefully they are all passing on their DNA as we speak!

By: KenG_CA Thu, 03 May 2012 12:40:55 +0000 TFF, they’re not synonymous. Reading my comment, I can see I was too brief and not clear.

The point I wanted to make is that people shouldn’t be criticized for how much money they make, without considering what they have given back. If you have made a billion dolars, you owe a great debt to society. Very few have paid that debt off, especially those who acquire their wealth by trading assets without adding any value. While it’s hard to quantify a contribution to society, it’s easy to identify all the people who have benefited from the process that leads to one’s accumulation of wealth.

If Bill Gates ends up giving away 99% of the wealth he amassed, then the question is did that 1% he got to enjoy (say that’s $500 million) equal to or greater than the contribution he made to the world? I’d say unequivocally yes. How about a hedge fund billionaire? They create a handful of jobs, but no real value for anybody but themselves. The world did not benefit from their existence.

By: TFF Thu, 03 May 2012 11:24:24 +0000 “a comparison of their contribution to society versus how much wealth they have extracted from it”

I’m puzzled why anybody would believe the two are synonymous? But then, the wealthy have to justify themselves somehow. Quoting a wise man, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

One can make an immense contribution to society without extracting immense wealth from it. Other permutations are also commonplace (though only the most brilliant can extract immense wealth without making SOME contribution).

By: KenG_CA Thu, 03 May 2012 01:25:22 +0000 y2k, I’m not sure if I get your point entirely. Jobs didn’t put his wealth to work at Apple. Jobs didn’t get his wealth, before or after, by shuffling assets around. It’s not a question of the abilities of the wealthy individuals, I think, but more a comparison of their contribution to society versus how much wealth they have extracted from it.

By: y2kurtus Thu, 03 May 2012 00:36:19 +0000 I would love for someone to tell me exactly how many people worked for Apple in 1996 the day before they welcomed back Steve Jobs… someone who was worth a few hundred million at the time. I’d guess about 1/10th of the 60,000 or so they directly employ today.

It’s not worth debating what % of Apples success is due solely to Jobs or where the company would be today had he never returned… those are unknowable things. It is however, beyond debatable that Jobs was akin to the Edison of our age… the driving force behind an explosion of creatitivty, producitvity, and the creation of wealth and jobs.

Most comments on this post mock Conrad’s point that the uberrich .00001%ers have done more to better the plight of the human race than Mother Theresa ever could. Think it through though… how many people did that true saint lift out of poverty?

Genorisity and charity treat the symptoms of societies ills… the productive efforts of labor and investment cure them.

By: thispaceforsale Wed, 02 May 2012 19:50:15 +0000 Would have loved a direct quote about Conard’s point that Buffett’s charitable actions take money from the middle class by removing it from potential investment. It’s t-shirt worthy.
And I guess that makes him even more of a selfish monster than Buffett since he has retired so no longer spends the long hours slaving away for the benefit of the middle class.

By: MyLord Wed, 02 May 2012 18:58:24 +0000 You have to realize they don’t see trickle down as a policy but as a reality. There but for their grace and bounty all others would starve.