- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Gee ( si ) on April 15, 1999 at 13:06:08:

In Reply to: I think it was meant for emphasis posted by Quincunx on April 15, 1999 at 11:27:36:

Qx: That's interesting but can you cite any references to show this?

Its in the British Times richest 1000. Its published in sevral countries.

: Also, can you tell us what exactly "average wealth" is?

It is imprecise, it means without the kind of capital (eg land of huge stocks) that would make it 'easier' to start a business. Some were from low income families, some were from middle income families and no doubt some were from high income families.

: It seems to be a rather slippery definition at best. I feel that the deeper issue is really about how these "700 richest people" in the U.K. Should the executives of the various firms that were beneficiaries of the privatization of England's water utilities be admired for grating themselves fat pay increases to the detriment of people who find themselves having to pay for every drop at outrageous prices? I don't think so and I know that I'm not alone in this.

I dont recall any utilities bosses being in the rich list, but I agree that post privatisation (how do you privatise a state run(down) monopoly anyway? The rail fiasco in both America snd Britain shows what tends to happen.) pay awards are opportunistic. those people didnt have to build the business up themselves. I bet the most annoyed were other other business owners who worked hard for 20 years prior to getting those types of rewards. You also know that those directors were often ones with the appropriate govt links too.

: Would the "700 richest people" in the U.K. also include more than a few arms dealers? I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised.

I know one of the older rich families does, most of them seem to be in communications, clothing, food etc. Selling arms has never been a free market enterprise anyway, they tend to be govt cronies (which answers your final point)

Qx: I wouldn't think that Dale Carnegie and Ted Turner were the greatest philanthropists running around. These philanthropists do quite a bit of hobnobbing with plenty of aristocrats and various and sundry sorts of courtiers.

The 'real' Carnegie built many libraries and learning centres, Rockefeller likewise (even a medical institute). Both men gave the vast majority of their fortunes toward these projects in their later years. Thats philanthropy. Compare this to Vanderbilts' children, who managed to waste their fathers entire fortune in 2 or 3 generations. Fools and their money eh!

: In this case they tarred themselves and a few activists got the word out about their plans.

What plans?

Qx: There is such a thing as being born into the right social circumstances and being cagey enough that "wealth creation" can be seen as luck if one looks at the surface.However, I don't see much difference betwen robber barons from the last century to nowadays.

Last centuries robber barons were the likes of the 'big four' who used political pull (not good service or ability) to dominate south west railroads (a fiasco of bankrupties and poor service / safety). To put such second rate people in the same boat as someone like JJ Hill ( reliable safer northern railroad without govt 'help', infact with govt resistance) is simply inaccurate. An eye opener is "myth of the robber barons" (Folsom) who points out how the corrupt tarnished the good. One could say the same of Aol/Netscape and their 'run to mommy' way of competing.

I'll add that somoene else who experienced what a millionaire experienced in youth would not by defintion become a millionaire. A most embaressing whine is that of a man who claims "if I was where he was at that time I'd have been rich too"

Qx: It wasn't meant to be. It's more a recollection of his intellectual evolution than anything else. Anybody can read it

Thanks for the link, I was looking for a net copy.

Qx: It is the norm under capitalism but I couldn't say that it's a natural state of being for humanity.

Tribal leaders, elders, ruling matriachs, plutocrats, kings, empires of old? If anything the trend is away from the concentration of such power.

Qx: I'm pretty skeptical about claims concerning Iceland.

Thats that huge FAQ page, I remember visiting it once! Anyway, whilst the essay is interesting it downplays the vital destabilising influence of Norway, who went on to dominate Iceland in the more usual mode of society. Its interesting to consider whether one of the families who evetually have become kings if outside influence did not occur. Im glad the essay quotes D Friedman, who does not deny this.

Qx: I haven't heard that one. Can this be verified by any cultural anthroplogists instead of the Cato Institute?

The essays I have read are by someone called Graham Green, I should try and find them for you. If they were to find their way to Cato (they havent) would they suddenly become irrelevant? Would Newtons books on Gravity become irrelavent if published by Cato? Content not institute.

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