Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Rich are Different

By Libby

They don't pay taxes. They pay lawyers and accountants to avoid paying into the common fund. The NYT gives us a look at the new titans of the gilded age and it's not a pretty picture. Not since the 1920s has the majority of the national wealth been concentrated in so few hands and the business giants of today are not the men that Rockefeller and Carnegie were. Not that the barons of the 20s were all that honorable but at least they created products and jobs, by and for Americans and had some sense that they owed their success to the work of the "little people."

Today's parasitic tycoons, who make their fortunes by shuffling other people's money around the world, creating nothing but paperwork and profits for the few, feel entitled to their extravagant gains by dint of their "superior" talents. But as one of the few humane CEOs out there, James D. Sinegal, chief executive of Costco, says, “Obscene salaries send the wrong message through a company. The message is that all brilliance emanates from the top; that the worker on the floor of the store or the factory is insignificant.”

More typical is Kenneth C. Griffin, "who received more than $1 billion last year as chairman of a hedge fund, the Citadel Investment Group." He and others of his class say “The money is a byproduct of a passionate endeavor.” But the claim falls apart at the prospect of having to share their good fortune with the less fortunate who contributed to it.
“The income distribution has to stand,” Mr. Griffin said, adding that by trying to alter it with a more progressive income tax, “you end up in problematic circumstances. In the current world, there will be people who will move from one tax area to another. I am proud to be an American. But if the tax became too high, as a matter of principle I would not be working this hard.”

What principle would that be? Selfishness and greed are the only ones I can think of off hand.

[Thanks to Avedon Carol for the link.]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

ROFLMAO!!! He actually said,'I wouldn't WORK this hard'?!?! Work hard doing what, raking in other people's money? Very funny, this guy has missed his calling. Quick, call Comedy Central!

10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Mindboggling isn't it?

12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we need middlemen and people to shuffle papers around. buy low , sell high. bring things that are plentiful to areas where they are scarce. it's the american way.

but we shuld all pay the 15% rate these guys pay. just because they are superstars doesn't mean they get subsidized.

4:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great argument for progressive taxation! So that those motivated by pure, ruthless avarice won't work so hard!

9:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it's an argument for heavily taxing land value.

Land, weighted by value, is disproportionately owned by the rich. And when you tax it, it can't flee to the Bahamas or Switzerland.

7:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Mr Griffin! Please don't resign your chairmanship of that hedge fund!


7:27:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Lester, these guys are parasites on society. They contribute little to nothing for the public good.

Anons - good points all. My reaction is let the SOB stop working and give the job to someone who's willing to do it for less in order to share the wealth with the shareholders at least.

8:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they aren't parasites. if someone grows oranges or something they need to be sold somewhere. I'm sure all these guys could open a store someqwhere and do reasonably well with their business acumen. besides 15% of billions and billions is alot. if our government wasn't printing up so much money and causing inflation no one would care about guys like this. they're scapegoats, albeit highly paid ones.

1:00:00 PM  

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