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Talin .
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The growing problem of wealth inequality is less about what people "deserve" and more about the gradual erosion of democratic institutions. For the ultra-wealthy, the fastest and easiest way to get more wealth is not to invest in risky entrepreneurial ventures, but to influence government to change the rules of the game to favor their interests - to pull up the ladder after they've climbed it. I don't begrudge Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or even Warren Buffet. I'm more afraid of the many wealthy special interests who use the power of the state to engage in rent-seeking that hurts instead of helps the economy. From no-bid military contracts, to the invention of new and stronger so-called "property rights", to the gutting of bankruptcy laws, to the increase in lifelong student debt, we're seeing the little guy get squeezed from every angle. Even the terms of the discourse are so shaped by the media conglomerates that those who disagree have trouble even framing their arguments. Look, any society has winners and losers, and that's a good thing. But after a while the winners (or their descendants) start to believe that there's a moral rightness to their good fortune. This isn't because the wealthy are bad people, it's just human nature and we're all subject to its temptations. Now, combine this with the fact that humans tend to react much more strongly to the potential loss of privilege than they would react positively to the gain of that privilege in the first place. The net result is what I call "entitlement panic" - the view that anyone who would compete with us or threaten our privileged status is an enemy, an immoral person, and must be stopped by any means possible. We live in a society where money has a huge impact on politics - where our elected officials only serve the interests of people who pay for their television ads. What used to be "one man, one vote" is now something much closer to "one dollar, one vote". So I want to see wealth equalized not for reasons of fairness (although I do think everyone - even the wealthy - would be better off if we did), but because I see my own political franchise increasingly threatened. I don't want to become disempowered and marginalized. I want to reduce wealth inequality because I believe that it inevitably promotes political inequality, and the latter will destroy us all in the long run.
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Talin . is now following The Typepad Team
Feb 13, 2013