Tag Archives | Wealth

There Is No Such Thing As Redistribution

Matt Bruenig on the logical absurdity of debates about “wealth redistribution”:

The blogosphere is ablaze with discussions of redistribution: who redistributes to who, how much redistribution is happening, and so on. The right-wing can claim we are redistributing to poor folks because of government programs. The left-wing can claim we are redistributing to rich folks because of copyrights, patents, and various forms of protectionism for high-income jobs.

The word “redistribution” implies that there is a distribution that is default, and that we redistribute when we modify the distribution away from it. This, of course, is wrong. There is no default distribution. In the United States, we have constructed and enforce institutions of private property ownership and contract enforcement. All distributions are the consequence of any number of institutional design choices, none of which are commanded by the fabric of the universe. Those institutions generate very different end distributions than we would see if they did not exist.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

World’s Richest Woman, A Mining Heiress, Says Poor People Need To Work Harder

Also they need to drink, socialize, and complain less, and accept lower wages. She has praised paying African miners two dollars per day as a model for Australia to follow. Last year, she made $2 million per hour. Via Mother Jones:

Australian Gina Rinehart, reportedly the world’s wealthiest woman, has a message for you poor people: “Don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself—spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working.”

Pray, what does Rinehart do for a living? She is a “mining heiress.” Rinehart’s wealth is derived from a family trust and an executive position in a mining company she inherited from her father after his death in 1992. Since then, she’s kept very busy—pouring her wealth into conservative causes and political front groups she helped set up.

She recently tried to import cheap visa workers after unionized Australian miners asked for a competitive wage.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Mississippi Hopes To Lure French Tax Exiles

Is the future of states such as Mississippi — which offers startlingly low life expectancy, sky high rates of poverty and disease, and minimal government regulation and protection — as laissez faire tax havens for rich expatriates? Via Yahoo! News:

France’s new Socialist leader President Francois Hollande plans to slap a tax of 75 percent on all income in excess of a million euros, and territories with lower rates are hoping for a cash exodus. Now the US state of Mississippi is making a bid to recruit wealthy exiles.

Haley Barbour [is the] former governor of Mississippi, a southern US state that was in part founded by French settlers on territory at one point controlled by the French empire. “I wonder if we Barbour boys ought to set up a business to attract wealthy Frenchmen and successful businesses from France to Mississippi,” he mused, in an article for the website of the US magazine Foreign Policy.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Rich Have Hidden $21 Trillion In Global Tax Havens

Wealth inequality between the super-rich and everyone else has been vastly underestimated, the Guardian reports:

The world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy.

James Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has conducted groundbreaking new research for the Tax Justice Network campaign group – sifting through data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and private sector analysts to construct an alarming picture that shows capital flooding out of countries across the world and disappearing into the cracks in the financial system.

“These estimates reveal a staggering failure,” says John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. “Inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Walmart Heirs Now Have As Much Wealth As The Bottom 40 Percent Of Americans

Welcome to our sharecropper economy. A couple of years ago, eyebrows were raised by the news that the Walton family’s wealth was equal to that of the bottom 30 percent of U.S. families. In little time that figure has ballooned to 40 percent, the Economic Policy Institute notes:

We have argued previously that Walmart is a useful archetype for trends in the larger American economy over the past three decades. Its enormous size and bargaining power has led to fabulous wealth for its owners, while the compensation it pays its employees is generally low, even by retail standards; and the ubiquity of Walmart stores means that it is effectively the marginal employer in many U.S. counties.

In 2007, it was reported that the Walton family wealth was as large as the bottom 35 million families in the wealth distribution combined, or 30.5 percent of all American families. And in 2010, as the Walton’s wealth has risen and most other Americans’ wealth declined, it is now the case that the Walton family wealth is as large as the bottom 48.8 million families in the wealth distribution (constituting 41.5 percent of all American families) combined.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Bank Robbery: Why Crime Doesn’t Really Pay

Writes Thomas H. Maugh II on the LA Times Science Now:
Crime doesn't pay, at least not very well, when it comes to robbing banks, a new study finds. With unprecedented access to financial data from British banks, economists have shown that bank robbers don't make a lot of money, certainly not enough to justify the risks involved in such an armed robbery. "The return on an average bank robbery is, frankly, rubbish," the researchers wrote in the statistics journal Significance. "It is not unimaginable wealth." It is so low, in fact, that it is not financially worthwhile for banks to install screens that could further reduce robberies. Economist Neil Rickman of the University of Surrey and his colleagues were given unusual access to financial data from the British Bankers' Assn. Such data about robberies are not normally disclosed to the public because it is commercially sensitive and could potentially encourage copycat robbers. Treating bank robbery as a business like any other, they used normal statistical measures to calculate profitability...
Continue Reading

Are The Rich Worth A Damn?

nyt mag richA vigorous case for the super rich is argued by Edward Conard of Bain Capital in an interview with Adam Davidson for the New York Times Magazine:

Ever since the financial crisis started, we’ve heard plenty from the 1 percent. We’ve heard them giving defensive testimony in Congressional hearings or issuing anodyne statements flanked by lawyers and image consultants. They typically repeat platitudes about investment, risk-taking and job creation with the veiled contempt that the nation doesn’t understand their contribution. You get the sense that they’re afraid to say what they really believe. What do the superrich say when the cameras aren’t there?

With that in mind, I recently met Edward Conard on 57th Street and Madison Avenue, just outside his office at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he helped build into a multibillion-dollar business by buying, fixing up and selling off companies at a profit. Conard, who retired a few years ago at 51, is not merely a member of the 1 percent.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How The Top 1% Are Reshaping America

Completed a few weeks before the Occupy Wall Street protests began, the latest episode of Al Jazeera's fantastic Fault Lines program takes a hard look at the wealthiest 1% in the United States, including talking to those in the 1% about what their wealth means:
Continue Reading

Occupy George: Fix Your Money

Occupy George is a (presumably illegal) attempt to convey the reality of wealth distribution in the United States to the public by adding pertinent information to paper currency and circulating it as needed. Now your money will have informational as well as purchase value. Download their templates or order the custom stamps, and you can begin minting your own Occupy George bills at home:

Money talks, but not loud enough for the 99%. By circulating dollar bills stamped with fact-based infographics, Occupy George informs the public of America’s daunting economic disparity one bill at a time.

web2

Read the rest

Continue Reading