In an article by Robert Frank posted on cnbc.com yesterday entitled, "Billionaire luxury chief says wealth gap is 'unfair,'" the argument is made that wealthy people are evil simply because they are wealthy. Furthermore, it is alleged that the mere fact wealthy people have more than others is also immoral. This is, of course, the standard doctrine of wealth found in all socialists these days so I am not surprised by it. What does constantly surprise me is that rich people who are the targets of envy filled socialists do not hesitate to agree with the socialists about their wrongheaded economic doctrines. How can they be so stupid? I guess it just goes to show that one does not have to have economic smarts to become rich. Wealth is attained by serving others but it does not follow that wealthy people eventually come to understand economic principles and that they are wealthy as a direct result of their service to others. They too fall prey to the charms of socialism. Here is some of what Robert had to say:
"The billionaire chairman of luxury giant Compagnie Financiere Richemont said changes in technology will create a massive underclass and growing
inequality that could spark 'envy and hatred' of the wealthy. In a speech Monday at the Financial Times
Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco, Johann Rupert said the most
important issue for the luxury industry and economies globally is the
structural unemployment caused by robots, artificial intelligence and
the new machine age. Inequality will accelerate in the coming years due
to the growth in structural unemployment coupled with a 'new abundance'
for the global winners, he said. That will cause 'envy, hatred and
social warfare' against the winners in the new economy.
'We can't have the point 1 percent of the point 1
percent taking all the spoils,' he said. 'Now folks those are our
clients. But it's unfair and it's not sustainable. I don't know what new social pact we'll have, but we'd better find one. Otherwise our clients will be targets.
They'll be hated, despised....This is really what keeps me up at night, because people with money will not wish to show it. If your
child's best friend's parents go unemployed, you don't want to buy a car
or anything showy....We are destroying the middle class, it will affect us, and it's unfair.'"
Let's break this nonsense down one piece at a time. Bob, if I can call him that, begins by telling us that billionaire Johann Rupert believes that inequality of net worth will be the "spark" that will ignite "envy and hatred of the wealthy." Do you think? When was the last time someone from the lower 51% of the net worth spectrum made the decision to be filled with envy for someone poorer than himself? I would be willing to wager good money that that never happens. Of course people only have sinful emotional reactions towards those who have more than they do. That is the very nature of sin.
Rupert, according to Bob, does not stop there however. He goes on to describe a process of causation that eventually brings about the undesirable end result of hatred for the rich. It is at this point things become most interesting. Rupert says that inequality of income and net worth will accelerate in the coming years because of a "new abundance for the global winners," whatever that means. Then, the new abundance for the global winners will become the cause of envy, hatred and social warfare against the rich. There are two huge errors evident in Rupert's thinking on this matter. Can you spot them?
The first error is his belief that the rich become rich because they somehow win a magical lottery in which they are assigned a larger share of the static global wealth pie than others. He calls this the "new abundance for the global winners." His concept does not correspond to the real world. In the real world a person becomes wealthy because he serves the consumers. (I am ignoring those who become wealthy because of their association with coercive governments in this discussion.) The more an entrepreneur serves the consumers the more income he receives and the more wealth he accumulates. That is called the free market and it is a decidedly moral practice. He who serves others the most is rewarded the most. The men and women who come to have more material wealth than others are not "winners" in the sense that they have somehow unfairly been able to garner a larger portion of a static pie of wealth. They are winners in the sense that they have caused economic growth (the pie has grown thanks to them, it is not static) by serving others and, as a direct result of their efforts, they receive greater material wealth. They have earned what they have and they deserve to get it. Others who are unwilling or unable to do the same level of work and serve the same number of consumers will have lesser degrees of wealth. That too is a very good thing. Nobody should be able to get something for nothing. The free market is intensely fair. Each participant gets precisely what he deserves based upon how much he serves others.
The second error, and it is the fundamental principle underlying socialism, is the belief that having material wealth is the cause of envy in others who have less material wealth. This belief is the direct result of living in a post-Christian world where the doctrines of original sin and total depravity have been long since forgotten. This belief is also the direct result of living in a world that worships government and assigns to it the task of reassigning the wealth of those who serve others the most to those who generally do not serve others at all. Rupert flat out asserts that the wealth of a rich person is the cause of envy in a less rich person. That is patently false. The sins of envy and covetousness spring straight out of the heart of the sinful individual who expresses those emotions. Those sinful emotions turn into actions whenever they are reinforced by a God-hating society which rewards stupid ideas such as the innate immorality of wealth held by others. Strange, to my view, is the problem of how that wealth somehow gets laundered and goes from being evil to good simply because it is transferred from the person who earned it to a person who did not by an all knowing and all caring government. The socialists have never answered that question and I suspect they never will.
Rupert also goes on to say that it is "unfair" for people who earn money to keep their money. He does not say why it is unfair. Indeed, based upon the argument he has made so far the only reason it is unfair for a person to keep what he has is because some person who does not have that item decides that he wants it. Somehow my desire for what you have makes what you have unfair to me. Could someone please explain that moral principle to me please? Yesterday I posted to this blog and told parents to never teach their children to share. Today we have a perfect example of the fruit of that horrific teaching. Johnny sees Suzy playing with a toy that she has purchased with her own allowance money. He wants to play with the toy but he has blown all his money on candy. So Johnny goes up to Suzy and demands that she share her toy with him. If she refuses to do so she is being "unfair." If she is unwilling to do so she has become the bad person. What a corrupt and distorted world we live in today.
Rupert confesses his love for the omnipotent and beneficent state in his final comments. To address the problem of the sinful envy of others he does not decide to rebuke them for their sin and tell them to repent. On the contrary, he believes that those who have money are immoral and behaving unfairly. To fix this nonexistent problem he calls upon the government. He concludes by asserting that "I don't know what new social pact we'll have but we had better find one." In other words, to placate and assuage the sinful envy of those who have less, it is the duty of government to create programs of wealth redistribution that will reward the non-productive at the expense of those who have dedicated their lives to serving others and thereby accumulated great wealth. Rupert believes that the best way to keep the masses at bay is to give them what they demand, namely, the income and wealth of people who actually serve others for a living. Somehow he is incapable of seeing how his solution is the real immoral act in this discussion. Somehow he has managed to turn the act of theft into a virtue. The sinful emotion of envy also becomes a virtue while the virtuous action of serving others inevitably leads to the immoral condition of having wealth. What a logically convoluted world exists in the mind of socialists.