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Just to be super clear, I don't think that the increasing gap is a good thing. I was just commenting on the fact that surprisingly many super rich people decide to go into philanthropy instead of letting their wealth dissolve within their families.

Buffet had a nice, pretty old article about why leaving huge loads of money to your children is a bad idea but I can't find it at the moment.


Summary quote:

Buffett is not cutting his children out of his fortune because they are wastrels or wantons or refuse to go into the family business -- the traditional reasons rich parents withhold money. Says he: ''My kids are going , to carve out their own place in this world, and they know I'm for them whatever they want to do.'' But he believes that setting up his heirs with ''a lifetime supply of food stamps just because they came out of the right womb'' can be ''harmful'' for them and is ''an antisocial act.'' To him the perfect amount to leave children is ''enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.'' For a college graduate, Buffett reckons ''a few hundred thousand dollars'' sounds about right.

That’s in 1986, so the equivalent figure is more like a million bucks and change today.

Considering that the gap also means increasing disdain against the rich, I'm not that surprised. Not saying it's all just PR and getting on the good side of the mob, but it's still true that before being revered for his philanthropy, Bill Gates was one of the most hated people in tech.

Among other tech people, right? Was he ever hated by random people in South Dakota?

Philanthropy is in many cases personal PR for the rich, or just something easy to do rather than work or do nothing.

I’m sure Buffett and Gates are doing it for other reasons. But generic_billionaire donating paltry amounts of money is just buying goodwill from the public, other rich people, the local community, politicians, etc. A rich person donating 1% of their wealth each year may be donating a lot in absolute terms but very little relative to what they have

They're still donating. Are we seriously chastising people for giving money to causes of their own volition because we feel it isn't enough?

Yes, this is basically where we are at today. Apparently we are to hold every rich person to some esoteric standard because every wealthy person made their money by exploiting others; none of them were positive-sum contributors to society.

And when someone donates a lot of money, we just say they are buying PR and have calculated the ROI like the terrible capitalist they are, with zero evidence at all this is the case.

If it's a straight donation maybe it's PRless. The number of people like Trump's or Zuckerberg's who donate to family foundations that give them tax breaks and give them a way to funnel money to their family through jobs that are paid by the foundations, has seriously degraded trust in the concept of charities as organizations.

It's like running a company nowadays and wondering why your employees have no loyalty. Yea, maybe you're the one group that has acted honorably, but 90% of your peers have been rat bastards and you can't be surprised if the average person assumes you are too

Showing loyalty for the sake of loyalty as a worker has nothing to do with honor. It's... stupid. I do not expect my employees to show loyalty to me because they should. I expect them to remain employed with me because it is their best option, and I compete for their labor business with the other employers in the pool.

Which is an appropriate belief based on reality. The same way that assuming someone rich donating to charity has ulterior motives, because rich people donating to charity have demonstrated repeatedly that they have ulterior motives

It's disingenuous to frame the problems people have with the 1% as being due to them not positively contributing to society.

Rather, the entire capitalist system, tax loopholes, and corrupt politicians have lead to increased disparity between the rich and poor.

I'm fine with the claim that some people who create value and are net-positive, such as many of the rich people, absolutely should have significant wealth.

However, they should not have the level of wealth they have now, wealth that is enough to feed every homeless in their cities for centuries, wealth that could house and clothe the needy for decades....

We should not have loopholes like the estate tax reductions which mean even after they die, their family line can greedily clutch onto the money for generations to come, creating a severe class divide.

Just because we are angry with the system does not mean we all think rich people are innately evil.

Also, we have all the evidence we need to condemn the current distribution of wealth: the current distribution of wealth is self-evidently disgustingly bad.

That the rich get richer is just math, not a value statement.

Preferential attachment in the absence of proactive redistribution leads to accelerating inequity.

As you know, too much inequity undermines democracy.

If we want a Liberal, democratic society, we need progressive policies. Some mechanisms to offset windfall profits, level the playing field. Debt jubilees, entitlements, UBI, Keynesianism, something.

While I'm (very) sympathetic to "late stage capitalism" rhetoric, I think it's besides the point. Inequity predates capitalism and won't be remedied by eliminating capitalism.

> That the rich get richer is just math, not a value statement.

The actual statement is "The gap between the rich and poor is widening".

Of course the rich will be rich. That's a tautology.

They don't have to be rich at the expense of the rest of society, which is where we're at now.

>Apparently we are to hold every rich person to some esoteric standard because every wealthy person made their money by exploiting others; none of them were positive-sum contributors to society.

Yes, that's correct. What, you think Bezos and Ma are genius visionaries for coming up with the idea of buying things on the internet? A democratically managed worker's co-op could have accomplished the same things as Amazon and Alibaba with almost none of the disgusting exploitative labor practices and wide scale human suffering.

Then they would have, or we would have more examples of said practice.

Uh, yes?

I give a higher percentage of my income to charitable causes than any of these "philanthropists" and I manage to not waste an insane amount of money on a disgustingly wasteful life of luxury at the same time, but for some reason I don't have an army of sycophants defending my every action on the internet.

A higher percentage of your income does not magically feed more people, nor does a "flat tax" like you propose (merely substituting "donation" for the tax) scale economically for any number of reasons.

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