Friday, December 22, 2017

Before going after the “filthy-rich”, it behooves us all to consider how they got their wealth and what they have done with it.

The plutocrats can have obtained their wealth in many forms ranging from highly licit and commendable ways that have even enriched many others, to odiously having used criminal means leaving many impoverished in their wake. But, once that wealth exists, what can the wealthy do with it?

They can invest their wealth in bonds and shares, which mean these assets, if well invested, will be productive.

They can freeze their purchasing power, by a sort of voluntary tax, on walls or in storage rooms, like for instance the $450 million Leonardo da Vinci “Salvator Mundi” (What those who got the $450 million fresh purchase power do with it, is what then becomes relevant to the economy) 

They can spend their wealth on things that no normal human being could spend on, which helps to create jobs than would otherwise not exist.

They can put some cash, on which they earn 0%, under the mattress... a couple of $100 bills?

They can engage in philanthropy, hopefully efficiently in worthy causes, otherwise that's a loss.

They can use their wealth to manipulate and exert undue influence.

That should primarily make us go after that wealth that has been obtained through illicit or immoral means; and that wealth that is used to manipulate and obtain more influence than what its owner should rightly have; and keep an eye out for useless and even bad philanthropy.

I argue all this because, when redistribution profiteers try to increase their franchise value by instigating envy and hate, it behooves the rest of us to make a clear distinction between the good and the bad among the astronomically wealthy; and to much better understand what has already been "redistributed" by the wealthy themselves, so as to avoid unexpected consequences.

What is absolutely certain though is that any redistribution of wealth will yield only a minuscule fraction of the benefits so loudly promised.

PS. There are though many market inefficiencies that allow wealth to be accumulated in legal and moral ways but that should anyhow be combated. This includes monopolies or excessive rent extraction from intellectual property rights.