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Gap Between Billionaires and Everyone Else on Earth Widens… Welcome to the Plutocracy

January 22, 2019

Davos is convening this week, and as a result outlets like Common Dreams are publishing posts highlighting studies that show how the gap between the extraordinarily wealthy and the rest of the world are widening… and the gap is unimaginably immense!

Paul Buchheit, a blogger whose writings are often featured here, wrote a post with the sobering title “Capitalist-Style Wealth Gap: 1 Tech Guy = 1,000,000 Teachers” The “one tech guy” is none other than Jeff Bezos, who recently compelled hundreds of American cities to throw incentives his way for a second HQ for Amazon, incentives whose impact is not even a factor in Mr. Buchheit’s equation! But, as Mr. Buchheit highlights in his article, Mr. Bezos is hardly the only tech titian who’s made a billion dollars… and hardly the only one who’s earned it on the backs of his employees and thanks to the largesse of government policies.

An unapologetic Democratic Socialist, Mr. Buchheit concludes his essay with this:

Why Do Billionaires Want Even More Money? 

Harvard studies indicate that very rich people are likely to base their life satisfaction on the question “Am I doing better than other people?” A survey of 2,000 millionaires and multi-millionaires, who were asked how much money would provide perfect happiness, found that “basically everyone says [they’d need] two or three times as much.” 

Another insight comes from the “ultimatum game,” in which one player divides a pot of money between himself and another, and the second player can choose whether or not to accept the offer. If the offer is rejected, neither player gets anything. Offers below 30 percent are usually rejected. Even at the cost of losing money himself, a player apparently can’t bear to see another person outgain him.

Capitalism is a perfect system for people like this, who care only about making more money than everyone else, and fail to grasp the importance of a healthy, working society. It’s a game of winner-take-all. As Charles Koch said, “I want my fair share and that’s all of it.”

Common Dreams staff writer Jake Johnson used a slightly different data point to title his article on the economic divide: “A ‘Fundamentally Inhuman’ Economy: 26 Billionaires Own as Much as World’s 3.8 Billion Poorest People“. Mr. Johnson drew his facts from a recent Oxfam report on world poverty, which the billionaires attending Davos report is on the decline but only because the poorest-of-the-poor are earning slightly more than in years past. The reason for the expanding divide? Cuts to cooperate taxes. And who’s winning? Paul O’Brien, vice president for policy and campaigns at Oxfam America, has the answer:

“The only winners in the race to the bottom on corporate tax are the wealthiest among us. Now is the time to work towards a new set of tax rules that work for the many, not the few,” he continued, echoing the popular slogans of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “We need economic, political, and tax reform to level the playing field if we want to restore prosperity and opportunity for all, including women, girls whose needs are so often overlooked.”

The endless wars in the Middle East, the political bickering over a needless wall in our country, and the perpetual coverage of our President’s tweets are distracting us from the real problems in our country and the world… and those problems are the result of a mindset that believes “my fair share is all of it”.

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