Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I've got a baaad feeling about this

I normally leave the economic gloom and doom to the experts, e.g. Atrios, Krugman, and DeLong. And I do so now, but I refer you particularly to Professor K, who explains it all to you.

The semi-comforting story we always hear is that the current extraordinary rise in economic inequality in the U.S. has to do with rising returns to education. The high school grads just can't make a middle class living bolting cars together any more, but with a master's degree you can scoop up coin like beach sand.

Not. The truth is that the money isn't flowing to the college grads, or even the top 20% of income earners. It's flowing entirely, all of it, to not even the top 1%, but the top .1%. And no, they aren't "job creators," and confiscating their wealth isn't going to put anybody out of work. On the contrary, they are parasites who provide no socially useful services whatsoever. Some, such as Bill Gates, got wealthy by making shrewd and/or fortunate investments in productive enterprises early on, but even in that exceptional instance Bill Gates doesn't need to have billions of dollars in personal assets in order for Microsoft to be a successful business. (To his credit, he knows this, and he's working at giving away his money. So far that hasn't destroyed any jobs to my knowledge.)

Most of them, however, got rich by skimming from the financial markets or, as in the case of Mitt Romney, buying up companies, firing much of the workforce, siphoning off as much cash as they could, and then selling them to somebody else. Or, as in the case of the Koch brothers, they inherited the money. But what can we do about this situation? They can buy all the elections they want and pollute the public discourse with a Niagara of lies. How can we possibly get rid of them?

It's great that people have finally taken to the streets but what happens next? I have a hard time foreseeing anything good.

1 comment: said...

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