Tuesday, December 01, 2015

An Argument For Extreme Wealth Inequality

Expanding wealth inequality is a major issue. No one can deny that. I've tried very hard to argue the side of the bottom 99.9%. Now I'm going to try something different. As a sort of mental exercise, I am going to attempt to make an argument for the top 0.1%. This does not mean that this is my ultimate moral position, I'm just trying to see if I can do it. Here goes.

If you had a big problem you needed solving, who would you turn to? I mean, something really big. Like a mutated ebola outbreak that has reached pandemic status and has just claimed its millionth victim. Or a catastrophic loss of farmland due to rapid soil deterioration (ie a dust bowl of epic proportions). Who would you turn to in a situation like this? Who is going to be able to have the biggest impact on solving the problem? The answer has to be the top 0.1%, for they are the ones with the most resources. You cannot count on governments alone, because they are slow and relatively inept, not to mention already controlled by the top 0.1% anyway so its really just a matter of semantics. The solution to almost any crisis imaginable will most likely be solved in large part by members of the top 0.1%. After all, they are the movers and the shakers. Therefore it must follow logically that the richer the top 0.1% are, then the more capable they are of throwing their resources at potential problems should they arise. I'm not saying they will, I'm just saying that some of them surely will. You kind of have to take the good with the bad. For every greedy vampire squid, there must be a philanthropist who will use their money for good. This simply must be true, or else we would be extinct by now.

If you can accept this as a sort of truism, then there is a logical corollary which follows: If the top 0.1% are consistently gaining more and more share of the wealth, then this could signify that there is a serious problem that the free market is attempting to solve by providing more resources to the top 0.1%. Could this be true? Could there be something looming over the horizon that is so serious that the natural response is to load up the coffers of the movers and shakers in order to best prepare ourselves to solve the problem?

In order to help answer that question, you have to consider a scenario: The people elect a government that will pass a law that transfers the majority of the top 0.1%'s wealth to the poor. What would happen? In that case it is easy to predict what would happen, because it has been tried throughout history in various ways. Where have the biggest non-war related dieoffs occurred? Can you say Stalin? Can you say Mao?

I know it makes sense to want view the wealth of the top 0.1% as a gross injustice. There are about a billion people at the bottom who have nothing. Literally nothing. They are a bad week away from starving to death. This is the age old dilemma. Some people think this is unfair and unjust and wish that everyone had "an equal share". The huge irony is that these people are advocating a mass dieoff. The only way to magically equalize all the resources is to take by force from one group and give it to another. Putting aside the top 0.1% who would be stark raving mad over this, what happens when the bottom billion get access to all these resources they never had? Their population explodes. I'm not going to go into the intricacies of how exactly that explosion would occur. Surely it doesnt take much imagination to realize that people who are so poor that they spend most of their day trying to acquire food for just that day dont have much time to reproduce. If you magically give them an apparently unlimited supply of food, what are they going to do? Come on now, surely you can see it? OK, so then what? Who is going to feed their children?

In order to feed all those people, we need to constantly innovate. Innovate or perish, that is our mantra. It is our only option. Without industrial agriculture, billions would die off. Without the constant small increases in crop yields brought about by constant innovation, we would have a dieoff. It is a constant battle. We didn't just invent industrial agriculture 60 years ago with the "Green Revolution" and solve world hunger. It has been a constant battle to increase crop yields year after year after year through expansion and innovation. And it is this constant innovation that has allowed the population to rise and give more people a chance to live, even if it means that many are starving. Isnt starving better than dead or never born at all? Which would you choose? Ask yourself that question before you start getting all high and mighty and thinking about the human population as if it were some sort of infestation.

So you have a dire need to innovate. Extremely dire. People's lives are depending on it. That is why the top 0.1% make so much money, because the work they do is extremely valuable. (At least some of them anyway, again, enough to make the statement true.) But the real question is: Who the heck is going to innovate when there is no financial motive or means to do it? If everyone is equal, everyone is locked into stagnation. This leads invariably to a dieoff, basically because it doesnt cost much money to "make" babies, even though it costs a great deal to raise them. If I'm not going to make any money from my idea which would increase crop yields by 2%, then crop yields are not going to increase 2%. If yields dont get that 2% gain, then people will starve. This is the way it has to be. We cannot all be equal. We must not all be equal. For we would starve. In equality we would all starve.

It surely seems like this is not fair. But you have to look at the facts. How does the world's population rise to 8 billion if there is no wealth inequality? Can you seriously envision a way to drive constant innovation without constant greed? If you take away the greed by taking away the profit motive by taking away the profit potential, how do you get the innovation that is required to grow more and more crops? It cant be done. It just cant. That is why the extreme collectivist societies of the world always fail. So if you are truly against wealth inequality then it must mean that you want a whole bunch of people to die. Now how is that fair? Ask any person who is starving in this unjust world, "would you rather be alive and hungry and struggling to survive, or dead so that everyone alive can be more equal?" How many would choose to be dead? Probably not many. Probably less than 0.1%, ironically enough.