Sunday, March 11, 2012
A facebook friend sent me a link to the article 6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying. He asked if I would address author David Wong's points. Wow. I don't even know where to start.
I guess the main thing that overshadows everything else is that if a guy got rich honestly, his money is none of your business. No matter how much he has, and no matter if he hoards it or invests it. And, if he got his money by theft, fraud, or by using government (yes, I just repeated myself there), then it doesn't matter if he is still hasn't gotten rich. Dishonest money isn't more dishonest just because there is more of it.
All in all, this Wong character sounds like a whiny, envious, "It's not fair" kind of guy, who also doesn't know the first thing about the reality of economics. Well, as Scott Adams so eloquently put it, fairness is "a concept invented so dumb people could participate in arguments". It is not a feature of reality.
There is just so much wrong with Wong's whine that I'm not going to even try to address everything he is wrong about. It would take a book.
So, by his numbering, here is what I think of his whine:
#6- He begins by saying that rich people who claim that $500,000 doesn't necessarily make you rich are oblivious. Maybe. I don't live in a particularly expensive area, or a big city, so I can get by on less. I'm not going to judge how much money someone needs to live where they choose to live, even if it's a "huge amount" by my standards. I also know that "rich" is subjective, and that's something Wong doesn't seem to get. Also, once again, whether someone is rich or poor, you don't get to decide to take their money away to use as you wish, even if you decide they have "too much". Sorry.
#5- He feels insulted that "rich" people claim to have worked hard to get their money. There's that old "fairness" thing again. Sure, I would like it if being a hard-blogging libertarian philosopher paid really well. But it doesn't and it isn't likely to ever do so. I do not have the inclination to do the kinds of things that rich people do to make money. Maybe I don't even have the ability. That isn't a rich person's fault, even if it also isn't my fault. Maybe that's just how the Universe works. Suck it up and move on. Sometimes, things you value are not things other people value. Sometimes "hard work" doesn't equal "valuable work". Or, they are things that anyone could do- no "skill" or unusual talent involved- so there isn't much reason to pay a lot for them. If that's the case, I'm sorry, but that doesn't entitle you to punish people who had marketable skills that pay well, or people who happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right talents.
#4- Wong then complains that rich people claim that if they got rich, so can you. I've encountered this one myself. A guy I used to know pretty well made money with everything he touched. He couldn't lose. He couldn't understand why everyone (particularly, me) wasn't wealthy. He kept telling me that making money was easy. Yet, here I am- still broke. But I don't blame him at all. There were things that were very easy to me that he couldn't do. It's just that my talents didn't bring financial reward while his did. I could have been bitter and jealous of him, or I could have kept counting him as a friend. I chose the happier path. Wong's error is the "slice of pie fallacy". Listen, wealth is not a zero sum game. It is not a pie where if you have a bigger slice, mine is automatically smaller. No, the bigger your slice of the pie, the bigger the entire pie grows, and the better my chance of getting a bigger slice becomes. Mr. Wong, your ill-informed rant hurts us all by misleading other ignorant people into agreeing with you, and damaging the economy as a result. I hope you get smarter before you do too much damage- if anyone is listening to you.
#3- Then he complains that rich people say he is just jealous because they "made it" and he didn't. I agree there. His whole tirade stinks of jealousy and envy (and the echo still repeats "but it's not fair!"). I am not jealous of "the rich". I'd love to join them someday (if I could do so without losing more than I gain- which seems unlikely). I think most people who bash the rich do so in the belief that by bringing them down, they will somehow gain. What a pathetic desire to have. You could also have an advantage if you blinded everyone else in the world. But it doesn't make you better in any way. Wong believes he has a right, as a part of "society", to judge you for how you choose to spend your money. He believes you answer to him when you spend. And if he disagrees with your choice, he will call you names and advocate that The State steal more of your money to give to him. Because, if you don't spend your money the way he wants you to, then you are acting like a supervillain who lives on an island by himself. Pitiful creature, Mr. Wong is. Grasping at those straws that make him feel justified in advocating theft.
#2- Next Wong goes off on the "rich person's" claim that "You Shouldn't Be Punishing the Very People Who Make This Country Work!" He doesn't understand how value is created. He believes that the labor of poor people is why the factory is profitable. He forgets that the poor people had to have the factory provided by someone in order to use their labor to create the profit. Will those poor people band together to build the factory? They could... but will they? It sure doesn't happen very often. You need someone with the money to help you make your products and money. Perhaps Wong believes this is the place of The State. Perhaps he is wrong again. It's funny how much this contradicts his whole "no man is an island" thesis that he uses elsewhere. The poor could just get along fine if only those pesky rich people didn't have any "extra" money to spend on infrastructure along with the caviar. Please! The rich already "pitch in" in more ways, and to a greater degree, than Mr. Wong can wrap his mind around. He isn't asking them to "get something down from a very tall shelf because nobody else can ... reach it", he is ordering them to get it down because he is too lazy to bring over the step ladder. Anyone would balk when you order them to do your job for you while you point a gun at their head.
#1- Finally, he pushes his collectivist view that everyone is just as parasitical as he is, and that claiming that you should stop asking for handouts is just mean. Or delusional. I don't care if someone asks for handouts. What I hate is when they demand you hand over your property at the point of a gun. It doesn't matter to me if they are using their own gun and putting their own life in peril, or using the State's gun and stealing through democracy. You have no right to any other person's property. Go ahead: ask for handouts. Just don't think you are entitled to them. And don't expect people not to look at you as a whiny, selfish, lazy parasite.
A funny footnote. In the column Wong says "all civilization and morality rests on the fact that we have to answer to each other - the only reason I haven't murdered a dozen people in traffic is because society will bring consequences if I do." That's the classic collectivist's admission. It crops up in almost every conversation with a statist if they talk long enough. And, remember that these are the very people who seek political office and bureaucratic jobs. They simply redirect their murderous tendencies into jobs where they can cause pain to others without being punished for it. And I'm supposed to "honor" their choice? I don't think so. I don't murder people because it is wrong to attack the innocent, not because I fear the consequences. It's really not a hard decision to make. Am I that much better than the Wongs of the world?