Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why Do "1-Percenters" Exist?

Provided that there is no political favouritism involved, why should it be considered bad (morally offensive) that in a given nation there exist 400 people who are wealthier than some other 150000000 members of that nation?

It does not seem to be entirely implausible to suggest that the 400 most skillful writers who have ever lived created more literary value that the rest of the people who have ever taken up writing. It does not seem improbable that the 400 most creative inventors or scientists who have ever lived changed the world and our understanding thereof to a greater extent than the rest of the people who have ever dabbled in tinkering or science.

Likewise, it does not appear inconceivable that the 400 most shrewd entrepreneurs living today are responsible for creating more market value (i.e., more useful goods and services) than the rest of the world population, let alone 150000000 members of a single nation. That is how unequal we are, and although it might hurt our misconceived self-esteem to acknowledge this fact, rebelling against it can most plausibly be construed as motivated by a deplorable dog-in-the-manger sentiment.

Of course, in actual practice extreme wealth disproportions almost always come about as a result of political collusion and bureaucratic favouritism. But then the proper course of action is to work towards eliminating the phenomena just mentioned, rather than towards expropriating those who know how to utilize them.

And finally, if one is looking for a truly extreme numerical disproportion in the area of human affairs, how about thinking through the idea of 7 people bureaucratically determining the prices that crucially affect the world economy composed of 7 billion individuals?

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