• Welcome to the new Internet Infidels Discussion Board, formerly Talk Freethought.

Are billionaires rich enough yet?

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,515
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
I perused the Forbes List of Billionaires for 2022; and will report on some names that caught my eye.

In 1901 Andrew Carnegie scoffed when J.P. Morgan showed up at his home saying a consortium wanted to buy the Carnegie Steel Company. Andrew was only 65 years old and not ready to retire. But he changed his mind when he looked at the check Morgan presented to him for almost half a billion dollars. Becoming the very richest man in all the world (excepting autocrats like the Czar of Russia) probably fulfilled his adolescent dream!

Allowing for inflation, that $400+ million represents less than $8 billion in today's money, and would be barely enough to put Carnegie in today's Top 300.

Missing from the 2022 list is the surname Carnegie of course but there are also ZERO Rockefellers, zero Vanderbilts, nor any of the fabled wealthy families of yore. There was only one Rothschild, but that was Jeff Rothschild co-founder of Facebook who descends from a completely different family than the famous banking family that Controls the World™. No Hiltons, but Paris Hilton's old buddy Kim Kardashian is a billionaire as is her beau Kanye West.

Only one of the billionaires is a teenager; that would be Kevin David Lehmann who inherited from his father. (Germany's tax laws may be different from the U.S.'s as Kevin's father is still living.)

There are two self-made men in their 30's worth $50 billion or more. These are Zuckerberg, and Zhang Yiming who founded Tiktok. But Sam Bankman-Fried, a crypto-currency king aged only 30 has $24 billion so may be poised to overtake the other young multi-billionaires.

Fortunes get split up when the founder leaves two or more children, of course. The Waltons have to make due with $66 billion each but would blow Elon Musk out of the #1 slot if they pooled their wealth. Similarly Charles Koch would be in the #5 slot if his wealth were combined with that of his brother's widow Julia. (Julia met David on a blind date about which she told a friend "I'm glad I met that man because now I know I never want to go out with him." Evidently something changed her mind.)

Eight of the world's ten richest men are Americans, all except Warren Buffett being tech kings. The two non-Americans are France's Bernard Arnault (LVMH) and Mukesh Ambani.

Mukesh Ambani (#10) is the richest Indian with $91 billion, but barely nosed out his countryman Gautam Adani (#11, $90 billion). Ambani has a younger brother Anil who was MUCH richer than Mukesh for a while but lost a supposed $140 billion in the biggest riches-to-rags story ever. He was a flamboyant playboy while Mukesh is more conservative. But "conservative" might not be the word that comes to mind when you hear about Mukesh's $2.6 billion home,  Antilia (building)
Antilia is a private residence in the billionaires row of Mumbai, India, named after the mythical island Antillia. It is the residence of the Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani and his family, who moved into it in 2012. The skyscraper-mansion is one of the world's largest and most elaborate private homes, at 27 stories, 173 metres (568 ft) tall, over 37,000 square metres (400,000 sq ft), and with amenities such as three helipads, a 168-car garage, a ballroom, 9 high speed elevators, a 50-seat theatre, terrace gardens, swimming pool, spa, health centre, a temple, and a snow room that spits out snowflakes from the walls.

Collectively the billionaires were worth over $13 trillion in 2021, but several rich Russians have suffered recently and the billionaires' club is worth just $12.7 trillion now. The median billionaire has about $2.3 billion while the mean is about $4.8 billion. Stratification continues even at this level: the richest 10% of the billionaires have 50% of total billionaire wealth.

Bezos' ex-wife MacKenzie Scott is at #30 with $44 billion; that's only enough to make her 4th-richest woman. (Ahead of her are Françoise Bettencourt Meyers of L'Oréal, Sam Walton's daughter Alice, and afore-mentioned Julia Koch. Bloomberg shows Françoise Bettencourt as worth $95 billion, but Forbes thinks she's making do with just $75 billion.)

Forbes shows 27 billionaires in Thailand but omits His Majesty, whose personal wealth is surely in 11 digits. Vladimir Putin has been called "the richest man in the world" but is also missing from Forbes' list.


For me the most interesting billionaire was a man I'd never heard of:  Joshua Kushner, a "venture capitalist" (and son of a billionaire) worth $2 billion (though missing from Forbes' 2021 list). Kushner's first company collapsed under allegations of fraud and piracy; and his sweetheart Covid contract from his brother Jared, Trump's Czar of the Pandemic, fell through when The Atlantic did an expose. Despite these setbacks he somehow clawed his way to $2 billion. Wikipedia gives an idea of his money-making genius:
Kushner's JK2 [Westminster Management, owned 50% each by Josh and his brother Jared] was also featured in an episode of Netflix's Dirty Money series titled "Slumlord Millionaire." The episode was based on an exposé from ProPublica accusing the company of abusing tenants rights, leaving homes in disrepair, humiliating late-paying renters and suing mostly poor immigrants to garnish their wages calling them a "tier-1 predator".

During the COVID-19 pandemic, JK2 filed a significant number of lawsuits against tenants for debt collection and eviction, despite an eviction moratorium being in place.

Are billionaires rich enough yet?
 

Jimmy Higgins

Contributor
Joined
Feb 1, 2001
Messages
35,628
Basic Beliefs
Calvinistic Atheist
The justification of the wealth was that it was in theory only, but Musk disproved that with his Twitter run. Also, there needs to be a correction, $480 million in 1901 is worth about $16 billion today. It seems absurd that Carnegie's empire was purchased for a fraction of what Musk is trying to pay for Twitter.
 

TV and credit cards

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
4,349
Location
muh-dahy-nuh
Basic Beliefs
Humanist

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,515
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
Had other Infidels even heard of Joshua Trump? I hadn't. But I am not surprised to see that he seems to have gotten wealthy via fraud and mean greed like the rest of family, and that of his sister-in-law.

Also, there needs to be a correction, $480 million in 1901 is worth about $16 billion today. It seems absurd that Carnegie's empire was purchased for a fraction of what Musk is trying to pay for Twitter.

Inflation multiplier is ambiguous. For starters, are we talking wages or prices? A quick Google shows this:
  • Butter was 8 times as expensive in 1990 as in 1900.
  • Eggs were 5.3 times as expensive in 1990 as in 1900.
  • A bicycle was 6.3 times as expensive in 1990 as in 1900.
2022 prices are higher than 1990 but not by much. These multipliers are MUCH less than either the 16 multiplier I used or your 33 multiplier.
In any event, I didn't cherry-pick. I started with
Wikipedia about Andrew Carnegie said:
During the last 18 years of his life, he gave away around $350 million (roughly $5.5 billion in 2021)
and confirmed this multiplier with an on-line table I downloaded years ago.
 

Tigers!

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2005
Messages
2,832
Location
On the wing waiting for a kick.
Basic Beliefs
Bible believing revelational redemptionist (Baptist)
The justification of the wealth was that it was in theory only, but Musk disproved that with his Twitter run. Also, there needs to be a correction, $480 million in 1901 is worth about $16 billion today. It seems absurd that Carnegie's empire was purchased for a fraction of what Musk is trying to pay for Twitter.
At least Carnegie's empire was producing things of use and value. Twitter consumes much but produces frightfully little that is useful. The absurdity is so apparent as you note.
 

Derec

Contributor
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
Messages
21,684
Location
Atlanta, GA
Basic Beliefs
atheist
And this will be a very exclusive club with members who have the billions today to fund research into space travel, which will effectively give them a monopoly in this field. But that is a rant for another day.
If you risk your money on a speculative investment, should you not get to reap any rewards?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

zorq

Veteran Member
Joined
May 9, 2002
Messages
1,685
Location
Republic of Korea
Basic Beliefs
Atheist, Moderate
If you risk your money on a speculative investment, should you not get to reap any rewards?
:unsure:
If you see an opinion you think you disagree with should you NOT propose a false dichotomy? :rolleyes:

Or do you really think that total wealth distribution and monopolies are the only two options?

Even if those were the only two options, wouldn't it be grand to have a discussion that didn't devolve into whataboutism? Can't we mention that monopolies have problems without someone telling us how bad communism is?
 

Derec

Contributor
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
Messages
21,684
Location
Atlanta, GA
Basic Beliefs
atheist
If you see an opinion you think you disagree with should you NOT propose a false dichotomy? :rolleyes:
I was just saying that if you invest money into a business, and it makes a profit, you should be entitled to make money off it.

Or do you really think that total wealth distribution and monopolies are the only two options?
I do not think a monopoly is a realistic danger here. There are many asteroids, and if asteroid mining were to take off in 50 years, there is plenty of action for several companies.
I do not even think Elixir meant a literal monopoly. I think he meant that companies - several, so not a monopoly - would dominate the market, because they have the necessary capital to invest.

Can't we mention that monopolies have problems without someone telling us how bad communism is?
I did not mention communism.
 

Jayjay

Contributor
Joined
Apr 8, 2002
Messages
5,700
Location
Finland
Basic Beliefs
An accurate worldview or philosophy
I don't think there is "rich enough". But there is such a thing as "too rich", which is when there is a group of people so rich, that they can and do subvert the state in a permanent way and turn it into an autocracy.

Some would say that point is reached already, I don't think it is (in USA or most of Europe anyway).
 

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,515
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
If you risk your money on a speculative investment, should you not get to reap any rewards?
:unsure:
If you see an opinion you think you disagree with should you NOT propose a false dichotomy? :rolleyes:

Or do you really think that total wealth distribution and monopolies are the only two options?

Even if those were the only two options, wouldn't it be grand to have a discussion that didn't devolve into whataboutism? Can't we mention that monopolies have problems without someone telling us how bad communism is?
I really liked this response!

While Derec often seems almost reasonable, many right-wingers cannot resist exaggeration and false dichotomy. Advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and the right-winger will retort that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth. Propose a 15% hike to minimum wage; and hear that all the minimum wage workers will be laid off and, anyway, ALL prices will rise 15% to compensate!

One hilarity is consistent: If a right-winger writes "It's just Econ 101" you can be sure his next sentence will be so stupid as to prove he failed Econ 101 if he ever took it!
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,157
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
any
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
I don't think there is "rich enough". But there is such a thing as "too rich", which is when there is a group of people so rich, that they can and do subvert the state in a permanent way and turn it into an autocracy.

Some would say that point is reached already, I don't think it is (in USA or most of Europe anyway).
What's your benchmark?
 

atrib

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
1,897
Location
Columbia, SC
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
And this will be a very exclusive club with members who have the billions today to fund research into space travel, which will effectively give them a monopoly in this field. But that is a rant for another day.
If you risk your money on a speculative investment, should you not get to reap any rewards?
Yes, you should. I don't have a problem with people reaping the rewards of their skills, hard work and vision. But to believe that a single human being has provided services worth 300 billion dollars is absurd.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Jayjay

Contributor
Joined
Apr 8, 2002
Messages
5,700
Location
Finland
Basic Beliefs
An accurate worldview or philosophy
I don't think there is "rich enough". But there is such a thing as "too rich", which is when there is a group of people so rich, that they can and do subvert the state in a permanent way and turn it into an autocracy.

Some would say that point is reached already, I don't think it is (in USA or most of Europe anyway).
What's your benchmark?
Trump got voted out.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
I really liked this response!

While Derec often seems almost reasonable, many right-wingers cannot resist exaggeration and false dichotomy. Advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and the right-winger will retort that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth.

Eat 2% more of each of them.

Oh, wait, that's not what he said, is it?
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
Advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and the right-winger will retort that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth.
So let me get this straight -- whereas Politesse may be advocating a 100% tax rate, that's not you. You only want to raise the rate from 30% to 32%? That's not because you get a thrill from thinking about 300 people richer than Carnegie, is it? I take it that's because you'd rather the rest of us get 32% of their next billions than 100% of nothing, right? You think "billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth" is a stupid argument because you're not trying to confiscate all their wealth, yes? So it's not because you think they don't serve humanity?

Well then, it sounds like you've answered your own thread title question.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
35,772
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Missing from the 2022 list is the surname Carnegie of course but there are also ZERO Rockefellers, zero Vanderbilts, nor any of the fabled wealthy families of yore. There was only one Rothschild, but that was Jeff Rothschild co-founder of Facebook who descends from a completely different family than the famous banking family that Controls the World™. No Hiltons, but Paris Hilton's old buddy Kim Kardashian is a billionaire as is her beau Kanye West.

The Forbes list doesn't contain the wealthy families of yore because they're no longer so wealthy. Even that level of wealth dissipates in a few generations. And it's no surprise the modern ones have more--the country is a lot bigger and there's a lot more international market. Don't look at constant dollars as your yardstick, look at % of GDP, for international companies look at the combined GDP of where they have substantial market penetration.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
The justification of the wealth was that it was in theory only, but Musk disproved that with his Twitter run.
:consternation2: According to whom is that the justification of the wealth?!?

The wealth is justified in two words, the two words authoritarians regard as the two most obscene words in the English language. This is your trigger warning. If IIDB is your safe space, don't click.


"Consenting adults".

 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
At least Carnegie's empire was producing things of use and value. Twitter consumes much but produces frightfully little that is useful. The absurdity is so apparent as you note.
Of use and value to whom? The millions of people who choose to spend part of their lives writing and reading tweets every day evidently use and value what Twitter produces. And the companies that produce more conventional sorts of things and choose to spend part of their income from that production paying Twitter evidently use and value what Twitter produces. So what makes you a better judge than they are as to which things are "of use and value"?
 

prideandfall

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
1,937
Location
a drawer of inappropriate starches
Basic Beliefs
highly anti-religious agnostic
If you risk your money on a speculative investment, should you not get to reap any rewards?
you can take this logic and apply it to civilization - if you risk your existence fostering the environment and opportunity to allow speculative investment in the first place, should you not reap any rewards?
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
Can't we mention that monopolies have problems without someone telling us how bad communism is?
Can't we mention that narcissistic dictator-wannabes have problems without someone telling us how bad Trump is?
 

Jayjay

Contributor
Joined
Apr 8, 2002
Messages
5,700
Location
Finland
Basic Beliefs
An accurate worldview or philosophy
So if he buys his way back in, that will be sufficient proof of plutocracy?
Not sufficient, but it would be evidence towards that conclusion. Especially if he gets elected only with help of partisan courts and elections officials.
 

SigmatheZeta

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2021
Messages
556
Gender
she/her
Basic Beliefs
Generally, I am rooted in both ancient Epicurean and ancient Pyrrhonist sentiments, although I am somewhat sympathetic toward the intentions behind ancient Cynicism.
*pokes her head up out of a swimming-pool of cabernet she has been swimming in*

Diana Allesandrini finds that the progressive tax tends to support economic stability:


Salvador Barios and his team found that countries that switched from a flat tax to a progressive tax experienced some modest positive effects on their economy:


Another study found that Romania succeeded at making a modest reduction in their rate of poverty after implementing the progressive tax, having previously lived under a flat tax:


*wing-shrugs* I tend to lean toward following the empirical evidence where it leads. While I can find some studies that contradict this perspective, I tend to find relatively more economic research that support the progressive tax than otherwise.

I don't mind billionaires being rich, but the progressive tax tends to be, overall, a good thing.

The billionaires might not like it, but that is their problem.
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,157
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
any
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
Advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and the right-winger will retort that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth.
So let me get this straight -- whereas Politesse may be advocating a 100% tax rate, that's not you. You only want to raise the rate from 30% to 32%? That's not because you get a thrill from thinking about 300 people richer than Carnegie, is it? I take it that's because you'd rather the rest of us get 32% of their next billions than 100% of nothing, right? You think "billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth" is a stupid argument because you're not trying to confiscate all their wealth, yes? So it's not because you think they don't serve humanity?

Well then, it sounds like you've answered your own thread title question.
I.. what?

No, I advocated figurative cannibalism. How you derived a specific, sensible tax policy from that I have no idea.
 

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,515
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
*pokes her head up out of a swimming-pool of cabernet she has been swimming in*

Diana Allesandrini finds that the progressive tax tends to support economic stability:

Salvador Barios and his team found that countries that switched from a flat tax to a progressive tax experienced some modest positive effects on their economy:

*wing-shrugs* I tend to lean toward following the empirical evidence where it leads. While I can find some studies that contradict this perspective, I tend to find relatively more economic research that support the progressive tax than otherwise.

I don't mind billionaires being rich, but the progressive tax tends to be, overall, a good thing.

THIS is the key point. Reducing income and wealth inequality is appropriate NOT because of any issue of "morality"; the reasoning doesn't use words like "deserve" or "greed." Reducing income inequality is good because it makes for a better happier society.

There are other issues of course. It is dangerous to give a single individual like Rupert Murdoch or Elon Musk huge power over media. But again, this has nothing to do with morality, or character judgment on the billionaire.

The Forbes list doesn't contain the wealthy families of yore because they're no longer so wealthy. Even that level of wealth dissipates in a few generations. And it's no surprise the modern ones have more--the country is a lot bigger and there's a lot more international market. Don't look at constant dollars as your yardstick, look at % of GDP, for international companies look at the combined GDP of where they have substantial market penetration.
It is interesting to compare such lists over time. IIUC, John D. Rpckefeller is still in 1st place among Americans when his wealth is measured as a percent of American GDP. And until recently he was the most recently born of all the Top 10 names on that list. (Some such lists are shown at  List of richest Americans in history. With wealth in excess of 1% of U.S. GDP, Elon Musk now ranks #3 on that list I think.

One of the reasons for GDP increase is population increase. But that cuts both ways. If there are five times as many people now, should there be five times as many Warren Buffetts? But one focus of the discussion should be whether this wealth concentration is a good thing or a bad thing. Perhaps Elon Musk will mine the asteroids, while five Musks would never band together and achieve that!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As often, I wrote a long rambling OP and gave it a questionable title. I did really post because I find stories like that of the Ambani brothers to be interesting. And I was bemused that Josh Kushner — whom I'd never heard of — seems cut in the mold of his brother's father-in-law.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
Advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and the right-winger will retort that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth.
So let me get this straight -- whereas Politesse may be advocating a 100% tax rate, that's not you. ...
I.. what?

No, I advocated figurative cannibalism. How you derived a specific, sensible tax policy from that I have no idea.
I derived it by taking for granted it was figurative -- that you weren't advocating going Hannibal Lecter on them with some fava beans and a nice Chianti -- and contemplating what real policy "Eat them." could serve as a metaphor for. So naturally a certain Aesop fable about villagers and a goose came to mind.

So (a) if a 100% tax rate isn't what you had in mind then what were you advocating that "Eat them." is a figurative description of?

And (b) if you regard the specific tax policy I derived from your post as "sensible", then what's your beef? Just take my statement as referring to your post #36 claim that a 100% tax rate is sensible instead of as referring to your post #6 "Eat them.", and my answer to Swammerdami remains unaffected.
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,157
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
any
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
Taxation won't resolve wealth inequality. I do approve of taxing the very wealthy - it's absurd that the country with all the billionaires struggles to keep its schools open and its roads paved - but there is no magic button to press and end class oppression, or if there is, it certainly isn't a reform to the tax code.
 

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,515
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
Advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and the right-winger will retort that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth.
So let me get this straight -- whereas Politesse may be advocating a 100% tax rate, that's not you. You only want to raise the rate from 30% to 32%? That's not because you get a thrill from thinking about 300 people richer than Carnegie, is it? I take it that's because you'd rather the rest of us get 32% of their next billions than 100% of nothing, right? You think "billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth" is a stupid argument because you're not trying to confiscate all their wealth, yes? So it's not because you think they don't serve humanity?

Well then, it sounds like you've answered your own thread title question.
I'd be happy to respond to your response . . . if I understood it. You ask rhetorical questions, and tell me what does or doesn't thrill me, but don't offer clear opinions of your own.

Is it good or bad that one American has wealth exceeding 1% of the U.S. GDP? (A feat previously achieved, supposedly, only by J.D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt.) Or is it neither good nor bad, but just a FACT; much as we need not approve or disapprove of the Grand Canyon's bigness: it's just a fact.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
Taxation won't resolve wealth inequality. I do approve of taxing the very wealthy - it's absurd that the country with all the billionaires struggles to keep its schools open and its roads paved - but there is no magic button to press and end class oppression,
Are you suggesting being a billionaire makes a person an oppressor? Or is "class oppression" a guilt-by-association thing?

or if there is, it certainly isn't a reform to the tax code.
So is that what "Eat them." figuratively refers to? Getting the billionaires to sell you some rope, for instance?
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,157
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
any
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
Are you suggesting being a billionaire makes a person an oppressor? Or is "class oppression" a guilt-by-association thing?
No, but oppression makes billionaires.

So is that what "Eat them." figuratively refers to? Getting the billionaires to sell you some rope, for instance?
It means I don't give a fuck about billionaires. They are a symptom of societal cancer.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
Advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and the right-winger will retort that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth.
So let me get this straight -- whereas Politesse may be advocating a 100% tax rate, that's not you. You only want to raise the rate from 30% to 32%? That's not because you get a thrill from thinking about 300 people richer than Carnegie, is it? I take it that's because you'd rather the rest of us get 32% of their next billions than 100% of nothing, right? You think "billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth" is a stupid argument because you're not trying to confiscate all their wealth, yes? So it's not because you think they don't serve humanity?

Well then, it sounds like you've answered your own thread title question.
I'd be happy to respond to your response . . . if I understood it.
Well, what tax rate do you want for billionaires? Do you want 100% or more? If so, then why are you complaining when whomever you're labeling "the right-winger" retorts that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth? That's a perfectly sensible retort to somebody who wants 100% taxation.

Contrariwise, if you want less than 100%, then apparently you like it when billionaires have an incentive to keep making more money because they'll end up with more than now even after you confiscate part of it. Which is to say, apparently you think billionaires are not rich enough yet -- not rich enough yet to finance all the stuff you'd like to accomplish with part of their money.

Is it good or bad that one American has wealth exceeding 1% of the U.S. GDP? (A feat previously achieved, supposedly, only by J.D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt.) Or is it neither good nor bad, but just a FACT; much as we need not approve or disapprove of the Grand Canyon's bigness: it's just a fact.
It's a bizarre question. It's like asking if it's good or bad that one Scot has over 3% of the world's book sales. Musk has wealth over 1% of GDP because people voluntarily gave it to him in return for services rendered, because they judged those services to be worth more to them than what they were paying.

So is it good or bad that one American has performed services for others that they appreciate more than $230 billion? Hmm, let me think. What would Kant say of the ethics of performing that much service for one's fellow man? He'd say, "What if everyone did that?" Well, if everyone performed over $230 billion of services for his fellow man, I think we'd be in pretty good shape.

Money is memory of favors not yet returned. To say it's bad for one person's wealth to exceed some amount is either to say it's bad for one person to do that much more for others than they have done for him, or else it's to say it's bad for people to remember the services others have done them and return the favors when they can. Both of those are moral insanity, on a level with saying it's wrong to write Harry Potter stories.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
12,971
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
Basic Beliefs
˙uoıʇdǝɔǝp ɟlǝs ɟo ɯɹoɟ ɐ sı ɥʇıɐℲ
Workers help make things possible in terms of physical work, mining, construction, infrastructure, fabrication, delivery, service, etc, yet too often get little reward in relation to the wealth being generated by their input.
 

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,515
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
Advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and the right-winger will retort that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth.
So let me get this straight -- whereas Politesse may be advocating a 100% tax rate, that's not you. You only want to raise the rate from 30% to 32%? That's not because you get a thrill from thinking about 300 people richer than Carnegie, is it? I take it that's because you'd rather the rest of us get 32% of their next billions than 100% of nothing, right? You think "billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth" is a stupid argument because you're not trying to confiscate all their wealth, yes? So it's not because you think they don't serve humanity?

Well then, it sounds like you've answered your own thread title question.
I'd be happy to respond to your response . . . if I understood it.
Well, what tax rate do you want for billionaires? Do you want 100% or more? If so, then why are you complaining when whomever you're labeling "the right-winger" retorts that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth? That's a perfectly sensible retort to somebody who wants 100% taxation.

You've imputed to me a view opposite to what I wrote or implied. You are either incapable of reading what I actually wrote, or are pretending to be.
Contrariwise, if you want less than 100%, then apparently you like it when billionaires have an incentive to keep making more money because they'll end up with more than now even after you confiscate part of it. Which is to say, apparently you think billionaires are not rich enough yet -- not rich enough yet to finance all the stuff you'd like to accomplish with part of their money.

If I don't want to confiscate all of Musk's new wealth, then I WANT him to be even richer. I can see why someone might consider that a tautology — if they were in a contest to see who could misconstrue best.

Oh, but then you qualify it. You think I only want Musk richer so there's more to confiscate when "I" get around to it!

@ Bomb#20 — Read your own writing back, and pretend that you're objective and trying to treat a fellow with respect. Replace "Bomb#20" in the quote-tags with "John Doe." Do you find John Doe's argument style appealing?

Money is memory of favors not yet returned.
This is a peculiar summary. Did you read about the favors Josh Kushner did to earn his money? If I win $100 in a poker game, what favor did I do the losers? Poker lessons?
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
Are you suggesting being a billionaire makes a person an oppressor? Or is "class oppression" a guilt-by-association thing?
No, but oppression makes billionaires.
Since Mao's golden age of non-oppression ended, the amount of oppression in China must have been shooting through the roof.

https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Frainerzitelmann%2Ffiles%2F2019%2F12%2FChina-2-1200x694.jpg


It means I don't give ... about billionaires. They are a symptom of societal cancer.
Fred Phelps would no doubt say gays are a symptom of societal cancer. What makes you think you're a better societal oncologist than him?
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
26,814
Location
The Sunshine State: The one with Crocs, not Gators
Gender
He/Him
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
Money is memory of favors not yet returned. To say it's bad for one person's wealth to exceed some amount is either to say it's bad for one person to do that much more for others than they have done for him, or else it's to say it's bad for people to remember the services others have done them and return the favors when they can. Both of those are moral insanity, on a level with saying it's wrong to write Harry Potter stories.
There are other possibilities.

One is that simple money fails to account for any asymmetry that might exist between the value to the buyers of goods or services, and the value to the seller of those goods.

Wealth is ultimately a measure of what the world owes each person. But pretty much every economic system ever, holds that what a person earns doesn't exactly match with what they are owed. The difference being 'taxes' and/or 'benefits'.

There's no fundamental or inalienable right to keep every last red cent of your earnings. The rules about how much you get to keep are fairly arbitrary, but the idea that the answer should, or must, be 'all of it' is clearly rubbish.

To suggest that there's a limit to how much one person can possibly have done to help out his society, and therefore to the amount society should be beholden to him, isn't unreasonable at all, once you accept that money isn't significantly different from social credit points, or a videogame score. There are rules, and what those rules are is to be determined by the people in charge of society. There are no wrong answers. Just poor choices about who should be allowed to make the rules.

IMO, letting people who think that their preferred rules are somehow a law of nature make the rules is a poor choice.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
I'd be happy to respond to your response . . . if I understood it.
Well, what tax rate do you want for billionaires? Do you want 100% or more? If so, then why are you complaining when whomever you're labeling "the right-winger" retorts that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth? That's a perfectly sensible retort to somebody who wants 100% taxation.

You've imputed to me a view opposite to what I wrote or implied. You are either incapable of reading what I actually wrote, or are pretending to be.
You're projecting, dude. I asked you a yes or no question, and then I gave a case analysis showing what a "yes" answer would imply and what a "no" answer would imply. That is not me imputing a view to you. That is me asking you which horn of the dilemma you want to discuss. You are capable of reading what I actually wrote, and you aren't unfamiliar with how logic works. But I don't think you're pretending you don't know about case analysis; I think you simply aren't used to getting put on the spot to apply critical thought to what you wrote.

If I don't want to confiscate all of Musk's new wealth, then I WANT him to be even richer. I can see why someone might consider that a tautology — if they were in a contest to see who could misconstrue best.
Looks kind of like a tautology to me. What have I misconstrued?

Oh, but then you qualify it. You think I only want Musk richer so there's more to confiscate when "I" get around to it!
If I think you don't want him richer because you feel benevolent toward him, gee, I can't imagine what could have given me that idea. "Confiscate" was your word, not mine. As far as "you" goes, it was a plural "you". It refers to all the people who will collectively be choosing to impose a discriminatory tax on him if his tax rate is hiked from 30% to 32% as you describe. Granted you phrased it as a hypothetical; but you seemed to be taking it personally when your "right-winger" misconstrued what was being advocated, so I assumed you included yourself among the advocates. If in fact you think Musk should be paying the same income tax rate as the rest of us then pardon me for misunderstanding.

@ Bomb#20 — Read your own writing back, and pretend that you're objective and trying to treat a fellow with respect. Replace "Bomb#20" in the quote-tags with "John Doe." Do you find John Doe's argument style appealing?
Hostility to billionaires is every bit as respectable as hostility to gays. You want to be treated with respect, treat your fellow man with respect. If you replace billionaires with gays in your posts would you find your argument style appealing? Outgroups are like children -- it's different when they're yours.

Money is memory of favors not yet returned.
This is a peculiar summary. Did you read about the favors Josh Kushner did to earn his money?
So who ever claimed memory can't ever be faulty? You want to start a thread to lambast Josh Kushner, have at it. Plenty of people are corrupt. But if you're critiquing billionaires wholesale instead of retail then I'll defend them wholesale. By and large they got their money from people buying what they were selling.

If I win $100 in a poker game, what favor did I do the losers? Poker lessons?
You gave them the opportunity to gamble against you, which apparently they wanted.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,080
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
There are other possibilities.

One is that simple money fails to account for any asymmetry that might exist between the value to the buyers of goods or services, and the value to the seller of those goods.
Any judgment of symmetry or asymmetry in such values is metaphysics. Whether you value X more than Y is an observable; whether you value X more than I value X is not an observable. It isn't money's job to account for metaphysics. If you think a metaphysics-based economy makes for a better society than a money-based economy, feel free to argue for it, but the track record of such societies isn't all that great.

Wealth is ultimately a measure of what the world owes each person. But pretty much every economic system ever, holds that what a person earns doesn't exactly match with what they are owed. The difference being 'taxes' and/or 'benefits'.

There's no fundamental or inalienable right to keep every last red cent of your earnings. The rules about how much you get to keep are fairly arbitrary, but the idea that the answer should, or must, be 'all of it' is clearly rubbish.
And? Tell it to somebody who argues we shouldn't have taxes. Of course we should have taxes. Of course billionaires should pay taxes just like everyone who can afford to should. Billionaires are not an alien life form. They're just people who are better at making money than you and me, same as J.K. is better at writing novels than you and me.

To suggest that there's a limit to how much one person can possibly have done to help out his society, and therefore to the amount society should be beholden to him, isn't unreasonable at all, once you accept that money isn't significantly different from social credit points, or a videogame score.
That's a religious belief; and what money is or isn't is immaterial. Some people make a little difference in other's lives, and some people make an absolutely enormous difference. For you to pick an arbitrary quantity of help and declare that nobody helps others more than that is something you can't possibly provide empirical evidence for.

There are rules, and what those rules are is to be determined by the people in charge of society. There are no wrong answers. Just poor choices about who should be allowed to make the rules.
Of course there are wrong answers. If there were no wrong answers then there'd be no basis for calling a choice about who makes the rules poor.

IMO, letting people who think that their preferred rules are somehow a law of nature make the rules is a poor choice.
When you claim there's a limit to how much one person can possibly have done to help out his society, are you saying that's a law of nature?
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
26,814
Location
The Sunshine State: The one with Crocs, not Gators
Gender
He/Him
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
same as J.K. is better at writing novels than you and me.
I have read The Casual Vacancy. I assure you, she isn't. And That's based on my certain knowledge that I am crap at writing novels.

Indeed, even the HP series show a clear progression of lower and lower quality of output as her success made it harder and harder for her publishers and editors to stop her inherent lack of ability from shining through.
 

Canard DuJour

Veteran Member
Joined
May 10, 2004
Messages
1,166
Location
UK
Basic Beliefs
dunno
Billionaires should be taxed at whatever rate, and by whatever channel, will stop them undermining democracy and economic growth.

Ideally zero.
 

Elixir

Made in America
Joined
Sep 23, 2012
Messages
20,103
Location
Mountains
Basic Beliefs
English is complicated
@Bomb#20

Did you know that poverty is defined by China as anyone in rural areas earning less than about $2.30 a day?
By that same definition, I think we eradicated poverty in the US a long time ago.
Your graphic should make us grateful to billionaires for having done us that favor, right?
 
  • Like
Reactions: DBT

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,515
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
I'd like to address Mr. Bomb.

As I've stated before, a message should stand on its own merits. The TITLE of a message or thread can be just "click-bait." This is particularly true when the title is a question or not a complete sentence.

The opening post in this thread began with this sentence:
I perused the Forbes List of Billionaires for 2022; and will report on some names that caught my eye.
And this is what my opening post consisted of: a look at names and facts that seemed interesting.

I thought it was interesting that the 10th richest man in the world had a house with THREE helipads; and that he had a younger brother who was once much richer than himself but zeroed out. Yes, wealth dissipates after a few generations, but I thought it interesting that several heirs of Sam Walton have $66 billion each.

And I thought it interesting that one of the richest persons in Ivanka Trump's extended family was someone I'd never heard of. Am I poorly informed? I am curious whether other Infidels had even heard of Josh Kushner, but so far none has deigned to answer that simple yes/no question.

And, yes, at the end of the post I repeated the question in thread title: "Are billionaires rich enough yet?" It seemed a fitting way to conclude the message and provoke debate but is a question and should not be treated as a sentence in indicative mood.

Now let's look at my follow-ups. Here's the ONE where I did seem to take a "political stance."

If you risk your money on a speculative investment, should you not get to reap any rewards?
:unsure:
If you see an opinion you think you disagree with should you NOT propose a false dichotomy? :rolleyes:
I really liked this response!

While Derec often seems almost reasonable, many right-wingers cannot resist exaggeration and false dichotomy. Advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and the right-winger will retort that billionaires will stop serving humanity when you confiscate all their wealth. . . .
I mention that some MIGHT advocate a tax hike from 30% to 32% and Bomb#20 feels it necessary to propose that I MIGHT favor confiscation! And, YES, I've seen message-board posts — though not here, thank God — where it is assumed that a small tax hike should be extrapolated at once to a 100% tax!

And then, finally, I reveal my true thoughts:
Salvador Barios and his team found that countries that switched from a flat tax to a progressive tax experienced some modest positive effects on their economy:

THIS is the key point. Reducing income and wealth inequality is appropriate NOT because of any issue of "morality"; the reasoning doesn't use words like "deserve" or "greed." Reducing income inequality is good because it makes for a better happier society.

Read this carefully, Mr. Bomb. Does "Reducing income inequality" imply a 100% tax rate on billionaires? Do you agree or disagree with this statement by Swammerdami? Now please go back and re-read your responses to me and show me what comment by Swammerdami you were responding to.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DBT

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,157
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
any
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
And I thought it interesting that one of the richest persons in Ivanka Trump's extended family was someone I'd never heard of. Am I poorly informed? I am curious whether other Infidels had even heard of Josh Kushner, but so far none has deigned to answer that simple yes/no question.
I'd heard of him in connection with his brother and several conflict-of-interest scandals during the Trump presidency, there was an accusation that Josh and Jared's "diplomatic" trips to Saudi Arabia had more to due with personal economic promotion, and indeed this accusation has been borne out since, with billions of the Saudi foreign wealth fund invested in one Jared's toy PE funds. So I definitely remembered that Jared had a brother. Their father Charles is also extremely wealthy despite spending years in prison for tax evasion and witness tampering before getting inevitably pardoned out by the in-laws.

That said, I wouldn't be able to recall his name if I weren't looking at it. The Kushners share a dangerous quality of being extremely forgettable, a certain weaponized dullness often found among second-gen new money.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
35,772
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Are you suggesting being a billionaire makes a person an oppressor? Or is "class oppression" a guilt-by-association thing?
No, but oppression makes billionaires.
Since Mao's golden age of non-oppression ended, the amount of oppression in China must have been shooting through the roof.

https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Frainerzitelmann%2Ffiles%2F2019%2F12%2FChina-2-1200x694.jpg


It means I don't give ... about billionaires. They are a symptom of societal cancer.
Fred Phelps would no doubt say gays are a symptom of societal cancer. What makes you think you're a better societal oncologist than him?
How dare you introduce such inconvenient facts?!

In one sense the Chinese billionaires are a cancer--they're getting there far more from corruption than through legitimate business. However, the real reason for their growth is the economy overall--the Chinese pie has gotten a lot bigger in those years.
 
Top Bottom