But no one can guarantee a revolution will improve things in any measurable capacity. The risk therefore, is enourmous. And in the process, people suffer, die and things can become permanently worse.
I believe than in the face of a problem, a slower pace of experimentations and careful, but meaningful changes are a safer and probably more effective approach.
I would argue that a revolution is statistically something negative, and that if we can avoid it, we should.
But, It is a last resort, if there are no other options left, revolution is the one option that "the elite" cannot remove.
The reason why some people seem to be arguing for a revolution is that they have lost hope in there being other options.
There are many people that believe there is a simple, obvious panacea, e.g.: "get money from the rich and give them to the poor".
That's a pretty big statement and completely false. Every single day things of great value are obtained without blood.
One thing people could do to change things politically is not to comply collectively, pressure the government via social media, protest peacefully and firmly etc.
King John was turned around..so can rich people be turned around...not all revolutions are fast and violent
some are slow and very subtle
But I guess, it's not replace but "reform". He probably wants to secure his spoils.
I'm not an expert, and I've heard many times the thought that macroeconomics is simply too complex for anybody to understand, so you constantly retreat back to "my political tribe vs your political tribe" instead of treating this as an well understood equation that has many perfectly valid solutions that can be explored.
The same way people don't join unions if they think they will make less money because of their union dues. They do these things as a means to improving their material conditions.
The problem is that one "tribe"'s material conditions are at the expense of the others. You can't increase wages without decreasing profit. So the profiting "tribe" is at odds with the wage "tribe".
I'm scare-quoting "tribe" because the traditional word is class which we've had ironed out of us over the last 40 years. This is class struggle and has existed for a long time.
But while there are certainly many small businesses for which this is not true, for the billionaires and Fortune 500 companies, increasing wages would not decrease profit enough to actually change their lifestyle. At least for many, all it would change would be the number they see when they look at one of their many bank accounts.
In the meantime, the low wages mean that the "lifestyle" of a great many in the US is that of working poverty, not knowing whether they will be able to make rent and food in a given month, and certainly not being able to afford much in the way of leisure.
This presumes a closed system, and the assumption is demonstrably false in at least two ways. With an open system, you can conceivably have growth for both sides of the market (profit and wages).
For one, we are extracting energy and resources from nature, and the supply - at least of energy - is effectively unlimited. Longer term we can also mine the resources from outer space, which again is effectively unlimited. Granted, there are constraints on how quickly we can build out the gathering infrastructure for either, but there is no hard cap. Moreover, with the improvements in efficiency (economies and environmentalism go hand in hand here) we're reducing waste and reusing a lot resources and energy that would've previously been wasted, again moving the needle away from resource limitation and towards open-like system.
For another, the discussion is implicitly about USA (and similar case can be made for EU), meanwhile there's well known trade imbalance with goods purchased from abroad. Getting close to, or at, the point of balance is feasible; the current imbalance is result of difference in economical conditions and governmental policy.
The goods imported from abroad are specifically the ones that are mass-manufactured, which is where the wage laborers gets their wages from. The suppressed demand for local manufacturing suppresses wages of workers within USA (similarly, within EU).
Effectively we have outsourced the growth of wages to other countries. Making the source countries richer obviously has important benefits (stabilizing them politically, long term making them interested in clean environment, etc.), but it is a policy choice that needs to be balanced with in-country prosperity none the less.
And then there's the matter of changes in supply of workers, but that's a whole different subject for another day.
All in all, sure, reform capitalism: improve the trade balance, let the wages recover due to the demand that's already present, just supplied for from elsewhere.
Unless you're proposing we print money, it is a closed system. There is a relatively finite amount of money, growth, and consumption in any economy.
We've seen over the last 40 years that without concerted effort on the side of the working class, the owning class will keep and push wages low while keeping the gains of growth to themselves. It's well known that efficiency has increased while wages have barely grown.
No one is going to willingly share their profit with you, especially the lower you are in your income / skill level. That's why the average McDonalds employee in the US creates about $70,000/yr in profit and receives on average $18,000/yr.
Yes of course; with a quarterly growth GDP currently around 3%, we should and indeed do "print" money at related rate. (again, with the assumption we're discussing USA here).
However my argument hinges on two other aspects: the system is open in regard to energy gathering and resource gathering. The system (again, assuming we're discussing USA) is also open in regard to outside trade - USA can't completely control the policy and state of economy of trade partners. Are you proposing we close up the borders and/or cap energy & resource extraction & waste recovery?
>without concerted effort on the side of the working class, the owning class will keep and push wages low while keeping the gains of growth to themselves
A salient observation.
>It's well known that efficiency has increased while wages have barely grown.
It is also well known the pool of labor supply has grown significantly.
I propose we slow down the supply of labor a bit, to help the price of labor go up naturally, without any forceful methods. Care to join me on this quest? It works well for every segment of work market where it's implemented: doctors, lawyers, licensed engineers, you name it.
Wealth inequality seems like a proxy metric for "the lower classes are struggling". Is the correlation (or causation?) between the two well established?
Does this boil down to the fact that, in the current political system, wealth can be traded for political power, and if that exchange didn't exist, then wealth wouldn't be an issue in the first place?
No. Money can buy manpower, resources, time, and political access. Power can buy the laws in your favor and access to resources and manpower and make time in your favor.
> Let's say I'm ok with Steve Jobs hoarding billions
The surplus should have went to the workers. The fact he uses the surplus as his primarily personal slush fund to then reuse is an abomination.
> he creates something game-changing for society over decades of starting/running a business
Anybody could create something game-changing for society. Just because someone isn't acting for shitty SV style actions (make money on exploiting others), doesn't mean it could be game-changing. And people could start doing once their wages were not stagnating and held down.
> as long as that doesn't mean his vote is more important than that of an entire state.
It was worth that much, and other CEOs it too is worth the same.
I've seen time and again the refrain of "We'll bring good jobs in this area, give us a 10 year tax abatement, and do all these improvements". Long story short, the jobs suck, the company moves in free of taxes, sucks off the teat of the city, and then leaves for somewhere else to start the scam all over.
The deal (power) sounds too good with all the money surrounding the plan. And, it is. But Mr. Mayor gets to take claim of a pile of jobs, new industry, and something about revitalization. By the time the smoke clears, Mr Mayor will be long gone up the political foodchain.
Money and power go hand in hand. Power can be converted through time into money. And Money can be converted into power over time.
I think so. Finding ways to completely eliminate that exchange is a challenge, however. Most of the exchange exists in wealth being able to buy a louder voice, either through lobbying or in the media. It would hard to break that without introducing some other inequity.
Why does money buy power? As state control expands and authoritarian thinking is embraced by both parties in the United States, there is more centralized power TO purchase.
It is in everyone's best interest at the top (politicians and billionaires alike) that government continues to expand the size and scope of their aims, while keeping taxes low. Not so much for the average and poor people, but this seems obvious.
It’s just empirically untrue propaganda.
Both turn to authoritarianism to solve their problems. One party just happens to be more moral in doing so. That makes them preferable, somewhat. But friendly to libertarianism, neither party is, and calling it for what it is doesn't make me an ally of anyone.
This is an engineer's mindset, but human society is not a purely logical system. Ideology has to be a part of the conversation, because wealth inequality is about our values. Do we want a world in which a small number of people control most of the economic and political power, or do we value a world in which wealth and power are distributed more evenly? This seems like a relatively obvious question for me.
Furthermore, I don't believe that Jeff Bezos or any CEO has a claim to their billions. I agree that "billionaires are a policy failure" -- no one person has any right to that much wealth. Amazon's success is not solely attributable to Jeff Bezos, it was the work of thousands of employees and built upon publicly-funded technology research. That wealth should be distributed to society at large, not controlled by one man.
If you find yourself defending billionaires, I wonder, why? Do you think you will someday be a billionaire? If not, then billionaires are not your friend. Their money is money that is taken from your pocket, and the collective pockets of our society. The traditional argument for wealth inequality is "a rising tide lifts all boats", but that has been empirically false since the 70s -- despite a massive increase in wealth, most of it has gone to a very tiny portion of our population. And if you're not part of that population, what on earth do you have to gain from defending them?
However, Jeff Bezos's relationship with his employees is exploitative (especially warehouse employees). Consider also his relationship with publicly-funded research. We as taxpayers pay for public research, we helped pay to build the internet, and yet we don't see any dividends for that money.
Also, the mere fact that one person controls that much wealth is problematic politically. Jeff Bezos owns one of the largest newspapers in the world, which concerns me greatly. He has tremendous political influence in Seattle, and has been able to bully other cities into giving into his demands for HQ2. Massive amounts of wealth comes with it massive amounts of power, and power is a zero sum game.
This is, depending on point of view, either a failure of the patent system (government cannot directly patent nor license) or of taxation, or both.
Oh the low level, additional failure of laws promoting economic growth such that employees are evaluated by the company and paid any low offer with no recourse. This could be either fixed by unions (though these like dramatic not everyday negotiations and tend to produce fiefdoms) or again government, not necessarily directly central, setting and overseeing wage standards based on their globally agreed policies.
In short, introducing an intermediary who can negotiate with clout and is not easy to buy.
(As seen in the past, union leaders and politicians are easy to buy.)
The value consumers perceive is there in part because there are very few healthy other sites. For a lot of products probably zero. (Size matters after all.)
Ok, let's say we do that--a 100% wealth tax on any personal wealth over $999,999,999. So Bezos forks over everything he has over that, and we distribute it.
First, how do we distribute it? Let's say we just divide it up equally among all 325 million Americans. That's about $370 per person. Wow.
But second, what happens once we finish distributing? What are most people going to do with that $370? Spend it on something. How many people are going to make that $370 grow? Not many. Which means, in practice, all that wealth will just concentrate again. If most of the people spend the $370 buying something on Amazon, a lot of that wealth will just end up back in Bezos' pocket.
In other words, redistributing wealth can temporarily make things more equal, but they won't stay that way.
True. You might get it up to a few thousand per American if you counted all billionaires.
> there's more that the government can do other than cash payments to individuals, they can invest in infrastructure (like education, housing, public transit, etc.) which pays long-term dividends to society
Sure, spend the $1T or so you would get from all the US billionaires on infrastructure. That's a decent fraction of US federal spending--for one year. Then it's gone. Now what do you do?
What all of this leaves out is that wealth is not a zero sum game. Wealth gets created. If you want to reduce wealth inequality, you need to help more people create wealth, not try to take it away from people who have already created it.
> I'm defending the general principle that concentration of wealth is unethical and ought to be redistributed
I don't agree with this principle. But I might if you added a qualifier; see below.
> money and capital should serve the needs of the people, not the wealthiest corporations
Jeff Bezos made his billions by serving the needs of the people; that's what Amazon does. Lots of people shop there because it gets them the stuff they need, when they need it, for an affordable price.
Another way of putting what I've just said is that Bezos, in creating and growing Amazon as a corporation, created lots of wealth. A huge, efficient distribution system for lots of goods people want now exists that didn't exist before; that's a huge creation of wealth.
But lots of billionaires didn't get their billions that way. Lots of them did so by not creating any wealth at all, just transferring wealth from other people to themselves. For example, investment banks transfer wealth to themselves by taking advantage of asymmetric information to get other parties to accept the wrong end of zero sum trades. (For that matter, the entire US banking and financial system transfer wealth to itself by getting the Federal Reserve to print money that they use for loans.)
So if you were to modify your principle to say that concentration of wealth that does not involve wealth creation is unethical, I would agree with you. But that wouldn't be fixed by redistributing Jeff Bezos' wealth. It wouldn't even be fixed by redistributing the wealth of all the investment banker billionaires. You would have to shut down the Federal Reserve and re-engineer the entire US monetary, financial, and banking systems.
Again, you're interpreting my moral claim (billionaires are a policy failure) as specific advocacy of a one-time wealth tax on billionaires and no other shift of U.S. policy. I believe in a massive shift in U.S. economic policy to the left, which would entail a number of different reforms aimed at reducing wealth inequality over the long-term.
>What all of this leaves out is that wealth is not a zero sum game. Wealth gets created. If you want to reduce wealth inequality, you need to help more people create wealth, not try to take it away from people who have already created it.
You need to do both. I never advocated for merely expropriating billionaires' wealth and making no other policy changes.
>Jeff Bezos made his billions by serving the needs of the people; that's what Amazon does. Lots of people shop there because it gets them the stuff they need, when they need it, for an affordable price.
Jeff Bezos made his billions by exploiting his workers. Despite the fact that they built the company and do almost all of the work that makes Amazon possible, he reaps all the profits. Workers built Amazon, not merely Bezos alone, and you're totally erasing everyone else's contribution.
>Another way of putting what I've just said is that Bezos, in creating and growing Amazon as a corporation, created lots of wealth. A huge, efficient distribution system for lots of goods people want now exists that didn't exist before; that's a huge creation of wealth.
The technology that enabled this massive creation of wealth wasn't created by Bezos though, it was created through publicly-funded research. Why is Jeff Bezos a billionaire but not Tim Barners-Lee, when by any measure he did far more to enable the creation of wealth? And again, like I said earlier, it is a huge creation of wealth, but that wealth goes into Jeff Bezos' pockets, not ours, nor his workers'.
>Lots of them did so by not creating any wealth at all, just transferring wealth from other people to themselves.
All billionaires get their wealth this way, by exploiting their workers. Furthermore, all the big tech companies participate in anti-competitive behavior (vendor lock-in, etc) which benefits them individually but hurts the wealth of society as a whole.
There's no reason, for example, a publicly-owned or worker-owned company could not have accomplished what Amazon did. All they would have needed is sufficient access to capital -- the basic technology already existed & wasn't created by Amazon, they just built the institutional structure.
Complaining about poverty is addressing a serious problem.
Complaining about some people having more money than you just screams envy and childishness.
Regardless, if you're not a billionaire capitalist, why are you on their side? The rich are cognizant that capitalism is class struggle and openly state so, so why do you ally with them when they fight against you and your interests?
No, they really are not. One is driven by envy and petty jealousy, and the other is motivated by a legitimate concern that someone might be living in poverty.
Where did he do that?
> No, they really are not. One is driven by envy and petty jealousy, and the other is motivated by a legitimate concern that someone might be living in poverty.
Screw off with the ad hominem. It doesn't suffice in lieu of a point.
> Complaining about some people having more money than you just screams envy and childishness.
So by your logic if you are poor and mention billionaires and income inequality then you are envious and full of petty jealousy. Therefore, only people who are well-off are able to even bring the subject up without being labeled as such. People who are well off have a vested interest in not bringing the subject up, as they maintain a comparative advantage with a cheap, underpaid supply of labor in their economy.
Every now and then, however, a well-to-do and handsomely paid software engineer with a conscious will bring up the subject. In which case, you can simply move the goalpost and label him as having petty jealously since they are probably not a billionaire.
In your framework, an economy with fatal inequalities will not be fixed. That's how you get revolutions.
Everywhere. It's the central thesis. All statements were rooted on complaining about how some people are rich. If you remove them you're left with no assertion at all.
> Screw off with the ad hominem.
Excuse me? You're actually making that statement in defense of a personal attack based accusations of how someone is "on their side"?
> So by your logic if you are poor and mention billionaires and income inequality then you are envious and full of petty jealousy.
You can also pick other scapegoats such as the queen of england or Bill Gates, but they are not the reason why there is still actual poverty and malnutrition in the western world. You don't attack poverty by mounting petty propaganda attacks on the mega-rich.
Why is there poverty and malnutrition in the western world if not because of capitalism? Neoliberal capitalism has been the dominant economic system in the west since the 80s.
In other words, the problem is not that there are some people in the western world who are poor and malnourished. The problem is that the western world is the only part of the world that has a significant number of people who are not poor and malnourished. If the rest of the world would stop chasing after leftist chimeras and adopt neoliberal capitalism, they could create a lot of wealth too. The western world is way, way ahead in bringing people out of poverty and malnutrition.
The majority of the world does follow neoliberial Capitalism and has for decades. And it has totally failed to reduce poverty. Almost all global poverty reduction since the 70s has taken place in China.
You also neglect the role of imperialism. The west has acquired much of its wealth through exploitation of the global south. So of course they are wealthier, because they have stolen wealth from everyone else, trapping countries in debt or dependence and overthrowing any regime that challenges neoliberial rule. Leftist regimes have done phenomenally well given the global economic context they live within -- Cuba has a similar life expectancy rate to the United States and phenomenally low malnutrition among developing Nations. China and Vietnam have experienced staggering economic growth for decades. Just compare India and China in this regard -- a country totally dominated by Western imperialism vs a left wing government that managed to forge its own development path
No, I'm disagreeing with your moral claim and illustrating how any policy that does not allow for creation of wealth is doomed. And any policy that does allow for creation of wealth needs to consider the reasons why people are willing to do it. Historically, satisfying leftist social and political dogma has not been among those reasons.
> The technology that enabled this massive creation of wealth wasn't created by Bezos though
Yes, it's true that wealth creation is never done in a vacuum--it builds on previous wealth creation. The technology that enabled Amazon's massive creation of wealth was another massive creation of wealth. Some of the initial technology for the Internet was created through publicly funded research, but the actual buildout of the infrastructure, along with optimizing the technology for a global network--the actual creation of that massive amount of wealth that connects every computer in the world to every other--was done by companies wanting to make money by selling Internet services.
> All billionaires get their wealth this way, by exploiting their workers
This is your opinion, not fact.
> all the big tech companies participate in anti-competitive behavior (vendor lock-in, etc) which benefits them individually but hurts the wealth of society as a whole.
Then why not focus on the anti-competitive behavior, instead of trying to remake the entire society in your leftist image?
because my leftist image is good
You keep stating this like it an absolute fact. It is an opinion. And while it is true in some cases, it is definitely not true in the majority of them. If it is, please show your work that the majority of Amazon workers have been specifically exploited by the actual definition of the word, not "we paid them less for their labor than we got value out of it," which is called "running a business," not exploitation.
>> Why is Jeff Bezos a billionaire but not Tim Barners-Lee, when by any measure he did far more to enable the creation of wealth?
Building the best mousetrap does not entitle you to billions of dollars. This is a feature, not a bug.
>> Despite the fact that they built the company and do almost all of the work that makes Amazon possible, he reaps all the profits. Workers built Amazon, not merely Bezos alone, and you're totally erasing everyone else's contribution.
No, he does not. Have you heard of shares of stock that are publicly traded and also offered as a form of compensation to employees, which are literally exactly the opposite of what you are saying?
>> There's no reason, for example, a publicly-owned or worker-owned company could not have accomplished what Amazon did.
Then.... why hasn't any done a fraction of what Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Google, and others have done?
Your arguments are literally false. The facts are not in dispute here, especially on the claims that Amazon reaps all the profits - a lookup on AMZN and the various shareholders of said financial instrument is all you need to know about that particular part.
It is distributed to society via jobs, construction, technology, and so forth.
>> And if you're not part of that population, what on earth do you have to gain from defending them?
Some of us do not believe the leftist alternatives being proposed are better. This does not mean we actually like the status quo. You are knocking down a giant strawman here.
I'm trying to be fair here, what alternatives are you defending? I want a world where billionaires have less wealth and power, do you disagree?
A fraction of the revenue of Amazon is distributed in that way.
Jeff Bezos' wealth is, by definition, controlled by one man.
Your propaganda piece does not state that. It quotes forbes stating that 70% of therichest 400 in the US made their entire fortunes from scratch, but then tries to put an ideological spin on the article by asserting that they were born "priviledged", without providing any definition.
There are definitely benefits to rewarding creating new value, I'll grant that. The invisible hand of economics helps distribute value fairly between equals.
But often the rewards of value are monetary, and are captured by those who already have money and power because of past value creation, rather then distributed according to the contributions of all individuals who participated in work.
Power and money further distort the abilities of less fortunate individuals to gain just compensation for their efforts.
I see that as exploitative and problematic. I think it also arguably undermines new enterprises and new value that might have been created had the work that people were doing been rewarded in an equitable manner.
And it's not like this system of exploitation is new, so the wealth that has been accrued by families is itself suspect.
Average employee productivity has increased a lot since 1970s but wages (and thus wealth) hasn't.
The top 1% on the other hand reaped the benefits of low capital gains taxation, rates of interest an economic downturn that didn't collapse them and hoarded wealth and political power.
With this hoarded wealth (and political power) and low taxes for the govt to run, they have jacked up prices of healthcare, education and housing for the masses. At the same time, they are lending more to various governments who now have to cut benefits for the masses.
To fix it, just reverse it. Take a few billions off of each billionaire and subsidizing state college education would be a good start. Redistribution is important for revolutions to not happen.
It takes something like 400k to be in the top 1%. That's a decent FAANG developer 10 years into their career, that's not exactly Andrew Carnegie level of wealth. Are those people to be taxed more? 35% federal + 10% state tax in CA. Will more taxes on that bracket make that much of a difference to the country as a whole?
Let's say we were to skim a billion off of all the billionaires in the US. That's about 500 of them. Does that solve the problem altogether? The government makes 7 trillion every year, that's a one time increase of 7%. Does that make that much of a difference?
The real solution is to simply spend more money to elevate people out of poverty. But then the question everyone asks is "how will you pay for it?" and instead of answering with the correct answer ("deficit spending is not the original sin, the reason why we are deficit spending is the important question") most political candidates instead say they'll tax rich people.
It just so happens that reducing the amount of money and influence incredibly wealthy people have has its own benefits (less corruption and lobbying power for one), but revenue raising is not one of them.
Let's just put things in perspective. In the 10 years that the FAANG developer took to reach 400k income, some born-with-a-silver-spoon asset holding trust fund kid made more than $1 million a year, with lesser taxes than the FAANG holder.
The question is who was more productive? Why was the unproductive person taxed less for their income on that capital gains?
"...Gini coefficient ... is a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income or wealth distribution of a nation's residents, and is the most commonly used measurement of inequality. "
There were a number of issues, including getting good data on production (why tell the truth if you'll be killed or demoted for not meeting your production quota?) and that there wasn't a mechanism that allowed sufficient granularity into the types of items produced which led to all kinds of weird excesses (they mentioned pipes, specifically: that you could get a ton of some standard sizes, but others that would have to be recalibrated for and so would slow down production were simply not made, but the numbers only showed "growth in industrial pipe" - that kind of thing.
The idea was that the system was too complex to really turn into a system of equations, so the free market one out.
The article then theorized that a place like China, without any privacy scruples and with a semi-centrally planned economy, might actually be able to get enough data to create and solve that equation.
I wish I could find the article for you, it had some really interesting historical references and links to economic thought in that kind of planned system I think you'd find fascinating. Maybe some other HN'er knows what I'm talking about!
It's a really interested look at planned economies taking into account the updates in computer technology.
It's also worth noting that while the Soviet Union wasn't perfect, for most of its history, income inequality was about 10-1 (extremely low), and inflation was virtually unheard of.
You also can't inflate zero...
What I'm saying is that I think you're leaving out some key aspects of this analysis.
I think I might have seen a version of the article you're referring to, but I don't remember when or where.
Anyway, it’s not like no one has run the experiment of trying a different system regarding healthcare and minimum wages.
It doesn't happen, though, because the rich have passed a critical tipping point where their money buys them enough influence to get their taxes lowered, thus making inequality worse (witness Trump's tax cuts).
This tweet has since been deleted, but there are many articles citing it if you want to verify it.
The richer you are, the higher the percentage your taxes went down. And that's a higher percentage on more income, too, so if you look at total dollars per income level it's much worse.
And some responses to the claim that nearly half of Americans don't pay federal income tax: https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/five-myths-about-the-47-p... The biggest one missing is that a sizable number of Americans are either retired, too young, still in school, disabled, etc., and don't earn a meaningful amount of income for these reasons. Why would you even expect everyone to pay taxes when not everyone earns income??
On a serious note though:
• 2017: “Huge Human Inequality Study Hints Revolution is in Store for U.S.” https://www.inverse.com/article/38457-inequality-study-natur...
• 2015: “PAUL TUDOR JONES: Income inequality will end in revolution, taxes, or war” https://www.businessinsider.com/paul-tudor-jones-on-inequali...
• 2013: “History tells us where the wealth gap leads” https://aeon.co/essays/history-tells-us-where-the-wealth-gap...
Where you needed ten loyal people to keep 100 to not revolt, you now just need 1 to keep 10.000 silent.
I think the time for revolution is over.
Ironically, not even 10 years ago we were having exactly the opposite conversation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Spring
The six most costly words in history.
If professors are responsible for ballooning higher ed costs then why have their numbers decreased (replaced by ad juncts) and their pay remained flat? How, exactly, are they siphoning off that money? Because it sure as hell isn't coming from their salaries or job prospects. Consider for example CS professors, who make only 1/3rd of what they would make in the private sector.
Blaming non-profit employees for breakdowns in for-profit employment is just confusing. How, exactly, is this mechanism supposed to work?
I suppose you blame nurses for ballooning healthcare costs?
And in your mind, who isn't rent seeking?
Are landlords and other real estate owners rent seekers?
What about owners of valuable real estate (real or virtual) who sell ad space?
What about owners of stocks and bonds who don't actually work in those companies or contribute to those communities?
Or only the teachers and pharma researchers and non-profit employees?
To be frank, it's hard for me to take a rant about rent seeking seriously when it complains by name about teachers and pharma scientists -- people who do actual labor -- but not about literal rent seekers such as people who own large amounts of stock or real estate.
In the end, I think unlike most of the more radical ideas that are anti-market out there...people mostly just want better social safety nets. That's not a "reform" of capitalism, that's a reform of government.
Mean != 50%ile.
Sufficience for the poorest (or at least the bottom half generally) is necessary.
Inequality is most socially acute within a given society, culture, or country. And inequality, poverty, and social precariousness have been escallating in the US and other generally more advanced countries.
Most global poverty alleviation has occurred in one country and one country only: China. The level of poverty alleviation is also based on an extreme measure -- dollars per day ($27/day is $10k/yr). Which, yes, makes a tremendous difference, but it's not as if we're talking about middle-class lifestyles.
There's a whole host of other issues with the "the world is a better place" story -- yes, there is some truth to it, but if that's the beginning and ending of your argument, you've left out one hell of a lot of salient points. Many of which are causing very real pain for people across the advanced world, as their reality falls far short of their expectations. That is the sort of thing which can become exceptionally destabilising socially and politically.
Personally I wouldn't say we're getting more prosperous. Household debt is skyrocketing, savings are plummeting, income has been stagnant for decades. Most women can't afford to be a homemaker even if they want to. And the gap between rich and poor keeps growing.