I guess it's really nice to have the work ethic to fall back on, but capitalism's reverence for it is highly selective. So, in my opinion, one cannot can't square this vaulted work ethic with rights to property. People with enough property simply don't have to work, and though they can gain this property in a variety of ways (i.e., some of them work hard and get really lucky, or they're just super-clever), once they've "made it," they still don't have to do anything. So, there is a fundamental contraction between the work ethic and the right to property as its defined in the capitalist system (i.e.,excluding property such as toothbrushes and underwear.) I see now other way. If you want to be honest, you're going to have to give up one or the other. Okay?
Holly Sklar is a frequent contributor to Z Magazine, the website at which you can find here and she has an interesting article titled "Brother Can You Spare a Billion?" She notes that in 1982 there where just 13 billionaires in the United States, and 5 of them were oilman H.L. Hunt's children. This year, more than half of the Forbes 400 richest Americans--268 people--are billionaires yet 35 million people are living below the official poverty line of $13,000 for a three-person family.
Do you like Mars Bars, with chocolate bar with almonds? The Mars family is worth $17 billion, more than Luxembourg, but not as much as Syria--and therefore, below also the Fisher family (The Gap clothing store) which, at $21 ranks above Uruguay ($20 billion) but below Morrocco ($31 billion)
What do these numbers mean? To start with, the 400 richest Americans could all stay at New York's Plaza Hotel at the same time, and all together they are are worth more than $1 trillion, which is almost 1/8 the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the entire United States, the world's richest economy. One trillion is worth more than the GDP of China, which ranked number 7 in the world (and has over one billion people). Bill Gates, a man who is worth $85 billion, ranks above Singapore. Bill Gates alone has more wealth than the bottom 45 percent of all American households combined.
If the executives of Microsoft teamed up with the Wal-Mart heirs, they'd have more net worth than the world's 20th largest economy, which is Sweden.
Hey, MDG! If you had a billion dollars, you could put it in a risk-free CD account in a bank and earn 5 percent interest, and it would make $50 million a year! (Therefore, your wage-limmit $5 million a year would seize 90% of a billionaires earnings. What do you think Ted Turner,the $7 billionaire, would have his talking heads at CNN say about you taking all that?)
Why not be just a nice little capitalist and give the money away? I mean, if we could just have William Hewlett of Helwlett/Packardgive away a billion of his $7 billion, then we could send 250,000 low-income students to college.
Oh, sure, they give it away. Bill Gates makes enormous contributions to the university of Washington and Planned Parenthood. But it's important to remember that these people don't MAKE this money, they TAKE it. And from whom do they take this money? Why, from the workers, of course.
According to Sklar, median household incomes in America rose to a new high of $38,885 in 1998, but, adjusting for inflation that's not much higher than in 1989, and this is despite longer work hours and increased productivity. "The average American worker now produces about 12% more in an hour's work than he or she did back in 1989," says John Schmitt of the Economic Institute, "but after adjusting for inflation, the typical worker's wages have increased only 1.9 percent."
One out of eight Americans live below the official poverty line--$8,316 for one person and $16,660 for a family of four--incljuding one out of four Blacks and Latinos, and one out of five children.
One out of twoof the poor full-time workers does not have health insurance, yet in 1999 the richest 1% households (2.7 million people) had as wealth as the bottom 100 million.
So much for the rich earning the priviliges they enjoy. And so much for those privileges not resting on the backs of millions not so fortunate. Any further discussion on this topic will, if honest, center on property and the rights to it, not some mythological work ethic.
Note: I'm having trouble posting websites. Check out Z Magazines at:
and also United for a Fair Economy at:
That is, if you're interested.