Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Plutocrat" Nick Hanauer warns that unchecked inequality will lead to revolution and implosion; the pitchforks and mobs will come "for us"

Plutocrat Nick Hanauer (wiki) gives a lecture on Ted about inequality.

Hanauer says he doesn’t work that hard, and that he benefits from “spectacular luck” as well as high tolerance for risk.

Inequality is at historic highs today.

If you live in a gated bubble world, “Wake up” he says.  The mobs and pitchforks will come for us, and a police state will result.  Insularity and aloofness won’t cut it forever.

Rising economic inequality is stupid, he warned. This is an argument about ultimate self-interest, not ideological morality.
We could wind up like 18th Central feudal France.  That’s after an EMP attack?

He does talk about the “virtuous circle”, and facing “middle-out economics”.  Like Perot, he warns that “trickle down didn’t trickle”.   The genius of capitalism is that it rewards people for solving other people’s problems.  “Economic growth” is “the rate at which we solve problems.” 

“I earn 1000 times the median wage.  But I don’t buy 1000 times as many trousers.”

He closes by warning us that he could just has easily been a poor person in Africa selling from a fruit stand to support a family.  

Update: August 14

Harold Meyerson has an op-ed on p. A17 of the Washington Post, Thursday, August 14, 2014, "A case for attacking economic inequality", link here. Online, the title is "Economic inequality, not just wages at the bottom, needs to be addressed".  Meyerson asks, "Why go after the 1 percent?"  He says that the tendency in business toward shareholder capitalism, to allow shareholders to demand their profits immediately and in the short term, rather than invest further in productivity and raising livings standards for everyone, especially in older legacy industries, is the problem.  This sounds like the "capital v. wages" argument of Thomas Piketty's book "Capital" (July 22, 2014 in Book reviews).  

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