Apple, Tim Cook and the wealth distribution curve

“A friend sent me the attached video (below) a few weeks ago. I’d seen it before. Maybe you have too,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes for Fortune. “It’s been viewed 16 million times since it was posted in 2012, and voted up nearly 100,000.”

“I was reminded of it this week reading through the juicy nuggets reporters were pulling out of Apple’s latest Definitive Proxy Statement,” P.E.D. writes. “Angela Ahrendts’ $73.4 million. Tim Cook’s $9.22 million.”

P.E.D. opines, “If you don’t think vast and growing wealth disparities are dangerous, just look around the world.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s retail chief Angela Ahrendts paid $73.4 million in cash and stock last year – January 22, 2015
Apple CEO Cook more than doubled his paycheck to $9.22 million in 2014 – January 22, 2015


  1. Wealth is not a zero sum game. There is not a fixed amount of wealth in the world. It’s not a pie to be divvied up. Hence, you do not have to “take from the rich in order to give to the poor.” We have to figure out how to teach the “poor” (very different definitions in the USA vs., say, Ethiopia, by the way) how to make more money for themselves. This does not mean to hike the minimum wage or some other stupidity. That is counterproductive. What I mean is doing HARD work in education and, yes, in morality.

    Strong families and strong values are what made this country great. Not broken families due to divorce. Not lazy people who think depending on handouts is something that shouldn’t be discouraged. Used to be that using food stamps was embarrassing. This made people strive to get off them ASAP. Not anymore. They make it look like a debt card. They make handouts look A-OK. This is what Democrats do. They hook the poor on subsistence handouts in exchange for votes.

    Back to the point: What comes before the fall, what leads to the fall, is moral bankruptcy. Secularism. Doing what feels good with no consequences and no shame. This is what is killing America, not that some people who have worked hard get paid more than others who have not.

    1. I’m not sure I agree with you. There is only so much “money” in the money supply. And more and more of that money is held by fewer and fewer people. I know the Fed can “make’ more money, and they have been pumping it into the system like mad, but so far most of the new money still is going to the select few.

      Now overall, I could agree that “wealth,” which is different from money, can also be created, although that’s more complex. Creating wealth is not as simple as printing more money. These days, I don’t see any evidence that working hard for most people brings them either more money or more wealth.

      For an individual company, money is a zero sum game. The profit a company is a fixed amount. The Board of Directors can cause it to be distributed however they want, so much to the execs and so much to the workers. If they give a lot to the execs, there isn’t much for the workers. Worker productivity has increased a lot in the last 20 years, but not their wages. The profits earned by increased productivity are going to the executives.

      If the Walton’s actually worked for their income, they would make $1.5 million per hour, while the average Wal-Mart employee gets $8.81. See, they actually could pay their employees $15 per hour and still keep those low prices by reallocating profits from their own pockets to their employees’ paychecks.

      1. I’m not a big fan of WalMart but you are comparing apples to oranges, wages versus investment income. What you are telling the Waltons to do is risk their capital so their employees can make more money while they make none. They would be better off investing their capital in governement no risk bonds and getting rid of all of their employees.

        1. You are correct, most of the Walton family income comes from dividends, but where do you think the money to pay those dividends comes from? From profits. The same place wages come from. Pay lower dividends, give more of the profits to the employees.

          Now the Waltons would NOT be personally better off, but they have plenty forever!

      2. There is not “only so much ‘money’ in the money supply” as you say.

        The value of a country is supposedly related to the size of its economy. When wealth is created by a robust economy, its value (and money supply) go up and it strength relative to another country’s slower economy rises.

        And like SIP Grinder says, there is no correlation between Wal-Mart’s owners and workers other than low-info populism.

      3. I was interviewing a new employee (whom I have since hired) before Christmas. She surprised me with her definition of wealth redistribution. I really had not thought of it in her terms. I wish I could relay it here exactly in her terms, but alas her words escape me.

        To her, wealth redistribution was her stopping what she was doing (working in a clothing store) and going back to school to make herself a more valuable employee. So, she did exactly that and changed her life. She is now a pharmacist and making more money with a lifestyle that is not scratching out a living. And, come to think of it, me and my wife did the exact same thing.

        I worked in the grocery store business for 10 years. Banging my head against the wall trying to be financially free. But, 25K a year was not that great, OK, but not awesome. So I tried a few business ventures which did not pan out and then decided on higher education in a field that could produce more income (pharmacy.) That was a tremendously hard thing to do going back to school at 30 years old with debts and other things hanging over my head. But, I HAD to do it. I was not satisfied just sitting there being less productive. I MADE A CHOICE.

        There is too much to be said to say it here. If it were a simple problem, it would have already been solved. Reagan said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Steve Jobs said “Microsoft doesn’t have to lose in order for Apple to win.” Money is NOT a zero sum game. We can create wealth thru natural production rather than thru artificial methods by the governments. If money were a zero sum game, then the US would have all the worlds wealth gathered from the old countries over the last 200+ years. Where did all of Apples’ value come from? It was created thru creating new value in ideas and products.

        Finally, look at the line on the chart which depicts poverty. It is way down the chart. It would be great if it were not on the chart at all, but that also is not reality. Compare the US poverty standard to that of the rest of the world. There is a huge difference. Also make that same chart for every nation. What would that look like?

        PS. I agree with Artist below on ISIS and related groups. Giving people something to live for and a reason to live will change a lot.

      4. Your statement “There is only so much money” completely misunderstands what wealth and money are.

        First, the vast majority of wealth is not money, it consists of valuable assets which can be businesses, real estate, commodities and other resources, art, assets like cars, etc. There can always be more valuable assets, there is no limit. Create something with value and you just got more wealthy without taking anything from anyone else.

        Second, the small part of wealth that is money is highly flexible. Governments add more when it is needed to the market by giving loans of new money to banks that loan it out and increase the money supply. But even if the government did not do that, money’s value automatically fluctuates to match the need for it.

        A $1 bill’s real value is tiny compared to the value we allow it to represent. It can represent any value. If there was not enough cash then cash would become worth more, which just means it would buy more and so now there would be enough.

    2. Social realities in the US and the world are shaped by the economic decisions of the very rich. Simply game the political system of any country through payoffs/bribes etc and you can pretty much do what you want. The huge economic disparity witnessed today between the wealthiest and poorest (include the middle class in “poorest”) was not created by the poorer people. Wealthier people just want you to believe that lie. Yet, history is replete of instances where the creation of a super wealthy class at the expense of others has ultimately led to anarchy and revolution. When will humanity learn this ad nauseum game is a dead-end for everyone?

      1. But the net result this time around may end in the total extinction of the human race. IE: The rich don’t care, as long as they die at the top, while everyone else dies in misery.

        Anne Rand… Why did you do it?

    3. “Wealth is not a zero sum game.” While technically correct, that’s highly misleading. Wealth is 97% of a zero sum game. Look up “world gross product”. Across the whole world, or only developed countries, or only the U.S. — however you dice it — wealth grows only a few percent a year. Compare that to the growth of inequality.

      Contrary to conservative propaganda, the poor are not poor because they’re lazy and deserve it.

    4. From what you are saying, all rich people are moral and have a right to their wealth and power and all poor people are flawed and deserve what they get.

      You also believe that rich people pay those who work for them fairly and there is no need for a set of minimums because all rich people are moral.

      We seem to agree that poor people need education in both scholastic and moral values and ethics but the rich need to encourage and reward the poor when the poor work for them. Giving handouts is never the answer and if these handouts are not earned, they are soul destroying.

      I would suggest that companies voluntarily set wages so that no one in the company earns less than a tenth of what the highest wage earner make. Everyone puts in effort and deserve to be part owners of the company.

      1. The problem with your suggestion is that a world class CEO is worth orders of magnitude more than say a really really good store clerk. The company that doesn’t pay a CEO what they are actually worth in terms of a better faster growing company, or that throws large amounts of money at store clerks will go out of business.

        A better way to reduce inequality would be to encourage all public companies to give small stock options to all employees as part of their pay. As those options vested each employee would become part owner and have savings.

        This would also encourage both employers and employees to think long term about their working relationship, which tends to result in better results for everyone.

        In other words, encourage capitalism (as in capital ownership) at the bottom of the economic ladder to help people climb up. Without capital, poor people only have their labor to sell, and labor is losing its value (temporarily due to internationalization, but permanently due to ever greater automation.)

        1. That is a good point. I have found that credit unions seem to have very happy, friendly and helpful employees. Maybe it is because they are owned and operated by employees and members? Publix are the best grocery stores in florida with very helpful and friendly employees. Maybe that is because Publix is owned and operated by the employees? Costco pays some of the highest wages in retail and are rewarded by loyal, dedicated, capable staff.

      2. I would so much love to have been earning more than my employees did when I owned a company. Since I was the last one to be paid, which is normally the case in small businesses, it often times was less than the employees made.

        That’s why I am a much smaller one person company now. Life is better. Call me evil because I won’t hire an employee and “share”

        I will share when an employee can produce half what I do in a day.

      1. “Trickle down” is a political statement designed to ridicule free markets without any context.

        Everything everyone has in this society came from someone’s or some company’s inventiveness and hard work.

        Each productive person added to the pot of wealth by creating something and improving and moving it along. People waiting for something for free don’t get much and some people think we should feel sorry for them and “give it” to them.

        The world can’t survive by “giving” beyond normal charity. Eventually societies that waste their wealth fail.

      2. I agree with you and a twist — trickle down government does NOT WORK.

        Suggest you apologize for a slur of one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century. The eighties was a booming decade and the country felt great. Ronnie reached out and made everyone feel good. Exception, he did not please extreme Liberals and no surprise because they are always miserable.

        Contrast that with the current administration of misery, hopelessness, clueless, cold and pretend caring for a select audience.

        I’ll take Reagan any day!

        1. I do take back my non-supportive and harmful statement of Reagan. I was blinded by the disrespect hard working Americans receive, yet all in the name of “Trickle Down.”

          I humbly apologies for being frustrated with Reagan’s introduction of Trickle Down, blaming him for it, and the rest of us for thinking it was a good idea.

          I apologize to you for disrespecting a historical figure, a great man, and for bring that on you and others, causing distress.

          Politics, sucks donkey balls. I think that we fail at seeing the bigger picture. Greed is not good for humanity, and goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ, who has been the most misinterpreted person of all time.

          I still do not like trickle down, when you see, that wealth does not flow down in the way it was expected to. Money is sticky, money begets more money and corrupts us.

          A new idea has to come along, to make money less sticky. Not communism or socialism, those are old ideas.

    5. People are just like any other resource. The more capable they are, the more scarce they are. The more scarce they are, the more valuable they are. Scarcity of qualified individuals creates the wealth gap. Not greed.

      Tim Cook didn’t fall out of a tree. He is a unique blend of intelligence, advanced education, experience, and innumerable other qualities that caused Steve Jobs to choose him as the next CEO. Steve then proceeded to take the already totally unique Tim, and groom him further. These kinds of people don’t litter the streets. You have to search for them and they are extremely scarce. Once you find one, you have to pay for them.

      I’m more than a bit sure that this is what is happening with Angela Ahrendts as well. Tim is grooming the next CEO of Apple. Ahrendts was already a CEO and a rock star CEO at that. As I explore her background, long before she went to Apple, she was considered a retail visionary. Watching her videos, it is clear that she’s at least a cut above the average CEO. No accident I’m sure.

      People who can do these jobs are very special. Down at the other end of the spectrum, there is no scarcity of people who can push a broom, deliver packages, or stack boxes. They are overabundant, and this silly little piece of propaganda doesn’t make that clear.

      The propaganda asks if the average CEO does 380x more work than the average rank and file person at the company. That question is irrelevant. The real question is how many people could do the jobs of the rank and file and how many could do what the CEO does. You will find that the CEO is greater than 380x more difficult to come by. If you could stick your head out the door and yell, “Anyone wanna be CEO?” people would, and CEOs would make minimum wage.

      As a society we are generating far more people at the lower end of the income spectrum than we are at the higher end. We are not only giving birth to them, we are importing them from other countries! We are consequently winding up with more and more broom pushers and fewer CEOs, Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Scientists, etc.

      If you think it is easy being a CEO, think about how many times we’ve seen a successful startup get to the point where everyone realizes there’s no one around who knows how to run a business. They have to go out and find a CEO. They don’t come back with Tim Cooks or Angela Ahrendts either. They typically come back with run of the mill CEOs who are still far above the average person in qualifications.

      Excellent people are also wealth creators. They are making decisions that add to the bottom line of the company. The higher up they are, the more difficult the decisions are. The more you add to the bottom line of the company, the more you take home from the bottom line of the company.

      So what do you want to do? Cap income? If you cap income, you are being unfair to the individual and people will find a way to pay for the greatest talent they can find and afford anyway. It will be an illusion. Incentive for smart people to invest in themselves and make themselves vastly more scarce must be maintained. They are the ones who pull the rest of us up. They raise the bars. They give the rest of us something to aspire to. They set examples.

      I’m a fairly smart guy. I can write you X lines of debugged code per day, or design you a secure efficient network that suits the needs of your company, but if you put me in the CEO chair at Apple, my first and last decision will be, “I gotta find someone who knows how to do this shit right away.” And I don’t even know if I could do that competently!

      Scarcity of qualified individuals creates the wealth gap. Not greed.

      If we are failing as a society anywhere it is that we are not teaching this in schools. Schools are busy teaching kids that they are poor because someone else is rich, when the truth of the matter is that they are poor because they won’t do what is necessary to become rich. The opportunity is there, only instead of teaching people about individual VALUE let alone individual responsibility, we’re teaching them to be grubby little disgruntled Marxists.

      People need to be taught to invest in themselves and understand that the investment never stops. Excellence breeds scarcity. Excellence comes from continued investment in education and experience.

      Except in the most extreme cases of poverty, the opportunity is there. The more time, effort, and money people are willing to invest in themselves, the more scarce of an individual they become, the more valuable they become, the further to the right of the graph they move.

      There is no conspiracy of the wealthy. There is only the curse of mediocrity being the level that most people aspire to.

      1. Excellent, although given the issues with Apple these days given the operating software, I wish we had a product guy like Steve Jobs rather than the marketing types that we have now.

        Product, who cares about product? It’s the marketing that matters. It’s not like product is the oxygen that Apple breathes………………………oh wait………it is!

        Well never mind, just do a trick ad campaign! Yeah, thats the answer.

        Yes, the stock is doing well. Where does the income that feeds the stock come from? Uh, well….product!!! Bingo, we have a winner.

      2. I enjoyed your analysis. But how do we deal with the demand side of labor? I mean if we increase the supply of quality educated doctors, how do we hire all of them, or won’t many end up under employed, pushing a broom until a job opens up? It seems like our economy has evolved from manual labor, to service labor, and we’re waiting for the next evolution of labor with good conditions and good compensation that the average American can do in abundance, and there is a high demand for. Just because anybody can do it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a livable wage. Unfortunately, it’s hard to define livable, when that definition seems to include a car, big screen TV, computer, cell phone, Internet and cable. I’m not sure that wages have gone down as much as “basic” need expenses have increased. Technology can decrease those expenses and seem like a wage increase. China has done a hell of a job decreasing the expense of these “needs” for Americans. I don’t think I would care how astronomical the 1% wealth is, if 90% of Americans were above the poverty line. That’s probably why we’re seeing so much animosity in that direction, like in the 20’s. It wasn’t about how well off the well off were, but how poor the middle class feels.

      3. I would Agree with most of your points.
        However you don’t seem to imagine that the wealthy are hard at work to find ways to devalue my/or yours hard earned skills.
        Between 2000 and 2004 loads of software engineering jobs were simply being moved to India. The reason, Indians can do it for a lot less. It sounds fair to the company owner, but you and me can’t do the same thing, say, fly in 10 Indian brick masons for 3 months to build your house for say half price.

    6. You have a lot of nerve talking about moral bankruptcy after your heartless, clueless “analysis”. And the way to fix America’s problems is more religion? HAH!!!

  2. I’ve always felt that this ISIS rising has more to do with wealth disparities than religion. Take a group of young males with absolutely no hope, and you can manipulate them to do anything.

      1. Government dependents are the least likely people to go on a terror mission. They have it good.

        Artist hit the nail on the head. Frustration tends to breed resentment even in otherwise good people. Frustration can come from many directions, including economic barriers set up by the wealthy. Wealthy people are as prone to bending the system as any other person, and much more able to do it.

        It can also come from political corruption, broken economies, lack of infrastructure, etc.

        Seldom does simply having a religion create intense frustration in people, but religion is a great manipulator of the depressed and frustrated. They desperately want to have some kind of power, so telling them that God is on their side and condones strong measures to get it is an easy lie to sell them.

      1. He has no excuse obviously. But the support he got was from people motivated by frustration, among other things. Anyone who cannot see the frustration of most people in the Middle East as they deal with corruption inside their countries and manipulation by powerful outside interests.

        For instance, the US has often propped up many very bad leaders because they were our “friends” when it came to oil. The price for political interference in other countries is resentment. (The oft repeated idea that some countries resent the US for its freedoms is laughable.)

        Most evil leaders obtain their power by manipulating the frustration of their people. For instance, Hitler in Germany after Europe mismanaged Germany post-WW I. Lenin and his working class. Etc.

        1. “Economic barriers set up by the wealthy.” Nevermore, you have never been more wrong. There are no barriers set up by the wealthy.

          The only barriers I’ve ever seen come from people who told me what I “can’t” aspire to. The only barriers I’ve ever experienced have come from people like you who insist there are these evil rich people out there who have my name on some list of poor people with a checkmark next to it that says, “Prevent Success.”

          This is all leftist, bubble gum Marxism. The amount of opportunity presented in this country is beyond imaginable. The first “barrier” to get past is those who say it isn’t there. Stop believing them. The next barrier to get past is to realize that your life is yours to succeed or fail with.

          The hardest barrier is the barriers you construct in your own mind.

          Sure you might be poor, but no one says you have to run the streets, do lousy in school, and grow up to be just another ignorant bozo who thinks the world owes him a living. People who perpetuate this myth are barriers. Not the wealthy.

  3. People like Tim Cook give away considerable sums every year and much of the rest is invested (wisely in most cases I’m sure) in their own company stock and possibly in new start-ups. If “wealth distribution” was like this Marxist video thinks it should be. The pie would shrink. Check the rationing in Argentina. Shrinking pie!

  4. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. — Edmund Burke
    The past is replete with examples of upheaval following huge economic disparities such as that being created today. One specious claim lays the fault at secularism, another red herring points at nonexistent Marxism. Such simplistic thinking allows the problem to fester until some catastrophic correction occurs causing maximal disruption for everyone. Ignorance and hubris abound.

    1. Yes, ignorance abounds, as in comparing the free enterprise system of capitalism to systems that did not allow upward mobility, trapping most of the population by force to produce for the few elites.

      Odd that it is always these same type elites who knock our system in an attempt to rebuild it into the system they compare it to.

      Yes, keep quoting Edmund Burke. Lenin is smiling down on you….

  5. It’s not a zero sum game but the very rich do have influence to steer legislation in their favor. But the interests of the rich are to protect their holdings, not allow for newer, younger and nimbler competitors. Thus the burden of legislation continues to grow. The tax code becomes more complex. The cost of compliance goes up.

    All these things create barriers to entry and much more costly for an individual to take a risk and eventually make.

  6. It is about nothing but the principle of the sand glass. Everyone could have enough food… But, what concerns money, if the poor became richer, then the rich person would become poorer. Money is just like sand. It is mathematical.

    1. Ridiculous. Money is just a unit for measuring wealth and when you create something valuable it makes you richer and nobody less wealthy.

      Paint a picture, invent something, or just improve your kitchen, and you have got more wealthier without taking anything from anyone or any money involved at all, unless you freely choose to sell your art, your invention or your house.

      Very few billionaires have billions of dollars of money, almost all their wealth is in assets.

      Most people in the US are far more wealthy than the average person a century ago. Wealth inequality is a real problem, especially for those who have trouble gaining traction as labor loses its value, but the problem is not money or some imaginary pie that can only be recut, never grown.

  7. In fairness to the rich most of their assets are overvalued because of the way the Federal Reserve monetizes our massive governemnt debt.

    Executives like Tim Cook and Angela Ahrendts are given stock awards as deferred compensation (i.e. The company they work for chooses not to give them cash but pays them in shares).

    People like the Waltons are insanely rich because they have both overvalued assets and because they compensate their employees poorly.

    Companies buy back stock because expanded unused capacity won’t bring profit. Banks buy stock because loaning it out to new businesses isn’t as sure a bet as the zero cost for goods that the Wall Street casino has become.

  8. This spot was produced by a guy who, to put it simply, is extremely jealous and would like the government to take some of the wealth of the rich and give it to him. Is that fair?

    When some people get very wealthy, it is almost always because he or she has done something or created something of great value to the rest of us. Think Steve Jobs.

    Great wealth is always held in the form of stock or real property—not cash under the mattress. Great wealth takes nothing away from anyone; I buy an iPhone because I think it’s great value for the money. All the wealth that Apple has created benefits us all.

    If the hardest working and most productive among us did not have the hope that they could get rich someday, we would all be worse off. The more rich people there are, and the richer then get, the better for all of us.

    Redistributing income is what socialism is all about, and IT DOESN’T WORK. It only makes everyone worse off.

    1. To me, this is not about income redistribution. Rather, it’s about making the rules of the game fair. As it exists, current rules/laws are highly skewed and beneficial towards the wealthy (just take a look at the US tax code, or election rules, or how political districts are created and maintained, or how judges are appointed). Do nothing, and ultimately (once again) a 2008 fiasco or more will occur.

      1. Making the rules fair I agree with, but how to do it is the million dollar question.

        If the tax code is so wrongly skewed toward the wealthy, then how do you account for the top 5% pay over 80% of the taxes? Let’s not forget over 50 million low income earners pay zero income taxes.

        Favor tax reform that should be filed on a postcard and everyone pays the same rate. Same as everyone pays the same rate for a loaf of bread, a cappuccino or a SUV.

        Political districts are drawn by the party in power on both sides, now, back then and for the rest of time. Judges fall under the same rule. You could argue the rich donors influence elections on both sides. While the common man sits idly with little voice.

        So tell me how to make the system fair. An unemployed ex-con on welfare should have the same voice as wealthy business donor? Maybe. But that is not how it works.

        Same with earnings — we all reap with what we sow paid depending on our abilities.

        If you mean fair pay for a broom pusher equal to a doctor, no mas.

        You have not defined fair pay and open to what it means.

  9. I’ve scared when people talk about ‘redistribution of wealth’ because it basically means the middle class would get squeezed even more. The middle working class can’t afford highly paid genius tax lawyers, accountants, off shore bank accounts, have company expense accounts (some billionaires: all their houses, cars , vacations are paid by the company and tax deductible for the company. They take small personal salaries so they don’t pay a lot of income tax, earnings of their companies are reinvested in expansions ).

    That’s why with the gigantic increase in socialist programs like welfare payments , subsidized housing in the last 30 years the super wealthy as seen in the video has INCREASED it’s wealth while the middle class has shrunk.

    The spiralling increase in Sales Tax in some areas for example squeezes the middle class much more than the rich. (sales tax on you car is lot more percentage wise of your salary than from a billionaire’s whose car is probably free from the company anyways).

    every time cries of ‘help the poor’ it actually means ‘the MIDDLE CLASS is going to get squeezed to help the poor’.

    For example To finance socialist programs in my town property taxes have gone up 30% in the last 5 years in addition to absurd ‘reassessment’ of property values (my house was just reassessed up 10% this year without me doing any renovations – so I pay more tax) — it’s a cash grab on the middle class as the city is broke — again billionaires have ‘company housing allowances’ etc. (increase in property taxes also indirectly affects middle class renters).

    warren buffet famously said that he paid less percentage of his salary in tax than his secretary if you calculate everything and take all the deductions he could (he was arguing this was unfair to his secretary).

    To be absolutely clear (don’t flame me) i’m not saying ‘don’t help the poor’ but I’m just pointing out the last 30 years every socialist program has come off the backs of the working middle class and not the hyper rich (see evidence in video). For example cries of increase of tax on stocks and it’ll somehow come off the 401s, RSSPs (canada) etc of the middle class and not affect the hyper rich as they would secure them in tax shelters , some kind of hedge fund, or put their cash overseas etc.

    1. Unfortunately, most modern examples do not prove your point.

      The US welfare system is much weaker today than it was in the 1970s, for example, due to the Reagan & Clinton era presidencies, + their willing congresses, continually chipping away at funding and/or increasing the standards people needed to meet to actually get those benefits.

      Lets not limit ourselves to just jobless benefits, health care, & social security for people though. This era also coincides with decreasing enforcement of financial regulations (or outright repeal, in the case of Glass-Steagal, by Clinton), the increasing number of government approved corporate mergers, the weakening of rules protecting & promoting unions in both the private and public sectors – all of which (no matter how you feel about any of them, good or bad) should be looked at as an increase in corporate welfare, as it was govt. action that created those conditions. Also, lets not forget the free-trade agreements & tax changes that encouraged the offshoring of US jobs & capital, increasing corporate profits, while leaving workers/people in the US left with a shrinking number of middle income paying jobs. This is also unequivocally a government program that has helped corporations immensely – just use ‘gainfully’ employed WalMart workers being encouraged to apply for welfare in lieu of being paid a living wage, while the company goes abroad looking for the cheapest shirts to sell in their stores as one well-documented example. Finally the income tax code as progressively become more ‘un-progressive’ – Romney revealed a tax burden in the high-teens % during his last presidential run, while the average person in the US pays in the low-to-mid 20s%. Warren Buffet famously said ‘there has been class warfare for a while, and my side is winning’, using his income tax rate being lower than his secretary’s as his example. You can’t even call it a flattening of the tax rate, as it’s clearly tilted now in the opposite direction. That’s a government provided subsidy to the highest of high income people being paid for by middle & lower income people.

      The data is clear that wealth AND income inequality began increasing in lockstep with these changes in ‘socialist’ policies. Populist-type socialist policies have become weaker since the late 1970s, Corporate-type socialist policies have become stronger since the late 1970s, and both wealth and income have continually accrued to the top of the population in that same time frame.

      So don’t be blinded by rhetoric about socialism. It ain’t just for the poor. And, like it or not, when what meager policies geared more toward them were in effect (and more effective), the US economy was much healthier.

      1. I don’t disagree with many of your points (about corporations working with politicians for their own benefit) but how did you arrive with:
        “Unfortunately, most modern examples do not prove your point.” and “he US welfare system is much weaker today than it was in the 1970s”

        perhaps I’m wrong but I got my facts from reading stats like this:

        in the USA:

        in 10 years from 2003 to 2013
        social security spending has increased 36.8%
        Income security increased 28.02%
        Medicare increased 59.36%

        In 2014 49% of the budget went to entitlements (Medicare and social security etc) — 77% of non discretionary spending was for entitlements.

        The govt has projected social security spending to increase by 77% and medicaid by 87% in the next 10 years.

        here an article from
        USA govt.

        “Entitlement spending shrank as a proportion of government spending during World War II and resumed at about 15 percent of government after the war. But then entitlement spending began a steady increase, reaching 20 percent of government spending by 1970, principally due to the increase in Social Security spending.
        From 1970 to 1980 entitlement spending exploded from 20 percent to 30 percent of government spending, but then shrank a little in the 1980s as Social Security and health care spending stabilized and welfare spending shrank.
        Starting in 1990 entitlement spending began another surge, increasing from 33 percent of government to 41 percent by 1994 and health care spending increased from 10 percent to 15 percent of total government spending.
        In the 2000s entitlement spending increased modestly, but increased sharply in the Great Recession, reaching nearly 47 percent of government spending in 2010.”

        I don’t really want to go into a flame war but there are many ways to look at data. For example it can looked at % of GDP vs total of budget, compared to tax rates etc. You can of course argue anything by picking and choosing a narrow time frame but on decades long trend it’s undeniable from all that stats that social programs have increased (the spending graph is jagged up and down but in general it’s up) .

        BUT my main point in my first post was not arguing the good or bad or strength or weakness s of welfare but that tax increases (which have been used to fuel entitlement programs) — sometimes not seen or listed in Federal Income Tax rates as they are hidden in Levies, property tax increases etc — have hurt the middle class more while leaving the hyper rich relatively immune.

  10. Davewright makes a good point. It’s very likely that all the attempts to redistribute income in recent decades have only helped increase the wealth gap.

    See this article for all the facts about redistribution in our country:

    Welfare is pernicious, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed: “the issue of welfare is not what it costs those who provide it but what it costs those who receive it.” It destroys incentives to work, it destroys personal dignity, and it creates a climate of dependency. That is what happens when you try to reduce the wealth gap.

    What we should be doing as a society is questioning why it is that more people aren’t getting wealthy. Not why it is that some people are so much wealthier than others.

  11. The answer is not wealth re-distribution. However the top should be thinking about sustainability. Fairness is one of the most basic emotions. Even non-human animals understand the concept of fairness.

    I totally get what the video is pointing out, what the graphs say, what we imagine, what should be, and what is, reality, when it comes to wealth distribution. I am not an economist, I can’t tell you what’s right.

    But that graph, what should be, seems reasonable to me. It’s not socialism, it’s fairism.

    The economy would run better and smoother.

    Tying up wealth in the top 1% to 10% of the population breads stagnation of the economy. It’s top heavy and it could collapse.

  12. Way too many people on this forum have bought into the mantras of the rich.

    Wealth is being “redistributed” all of the time, but it apparently only acceptable if it is redistributed upwards. Government sponsored wealth redistribution *is* a bad idea for two reasons. First, it does not work very well. Second, the people in charge of redistribution are the wealthy. Guess how that works? It is no surprise that fans of trickle down economics would favor “job creators” and milk the dwindling middle class.

    All f this talk of “zero-sum” games and such obscures the real problem. The work of people at the bottom is simply undervalued. And most of those folks do not have access to a great deal of upward mobility. Besides, someone has to do all of those “bottom jobs.” We cannot all be pharmacists and such. We need to pay everyone a fair, living wage. If a job is worth doing, then it is worth a living wage. That won’t make the poor rich, nor will it make much of a dent in the wealth of the rich.

    Prosperity benefits everyone, from rich to poor. Extreme wealth inequality destroys prosperity. If wealth inequality reaches a sufficient extreme, then people will revolt and all of that saved wealth won’t be worth very much in the end. You might want to read up on your history, as noted above.

    1. I pity those who down voted me. If you do not agree that working folks deserve a living wage, then I wonder how open you would be to having your own job “fairly valued”? And you are likely fooling yourself if you think that you currently “earn what you deserve.”

      1. I believe all people deserve the opportunity to excel. All people deserve equal opportunity. It is, however, not my job to insure their success or failure. I do not expect you to insure mine. No. I do not think you deserve a living wage simply because you breathe.

        I think if you can demonstrate that anyone is preventing you from achieving a “living wage” point them out and let’s get rid of them. When you tell people that they deserve something simply because they can fog a mirror, guess what? They’ll believe you.

        It is people that believe the things you do KingMel, that help to create a culture of blame and discontent within the African American community. Instead of looking at the giant door that says opportunity and prosperity over it, we’re focused on the little door that says, “Government Handouts.”

        We need to start teaching children from day 1 that THEY will be responsible for themselves. The government is not here to give you other people’s money. The government is not here to make sure you get a job. The government is not here to make sure you get a car. The government is not here to artificially create equality for you. At most, the government should make sure you have the opportunity to LEARN. Whether or not you take advantage of the countless opportunities to learn is your business, and the outcome is your responsibility.

        This is one reason that I have no problem with Obama’s Community College program. Of all the nutty things he’s proposed, it is the one thing I’ve seen that addresses more opportunity.

        1. You completely misrepresented what I wrote…completely.

          What I *said* is that the work of people at the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum is undervalued. I *said* is that anyone who is doing work of value to society should receive a living wage for that work.

          I never said that people should get paid for “breathing” or “fogging a mirror.” But the fact is that people at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale are being exploited by those who have power and money for the sole reason of making even more money.

          If people were paid a living wage, then they would not need welfare. Our country’s deficits are linked to this growing wage inequality.

            1. Living wage is not $5/h.
              It can be calculated easily if we have a fair discussion about the items that constitute living.

              Transportation ?
              Lodging ?
              Helth cost ?
              What are you eating ?
              Learning cost ?

              Etc, etc, it is not nuclear physics., but imho, it is not 7.25/h

            2. The honest answer is neither you or I can define a living wage.

              When politicians talk about the minimum wage, I suspect the clueless administration in power is out to blur the lines and make both the same.

              Nothing could be further than the truth.

              Minimum wage is for the young, bridge or retirement jobs. I think you know what I mean without spelling it out. Living wage is for career jobs.

              So, let’s get it right.

        2. One more thing, TMac, I never said anything about the African American community. That was all you. Wage inequality cuts across all ethnicities, although it does disproportionately impact African Americans and Hispanics.

          That’s rich…you trying to blame “African American discontent” on me. You have some gall.

        3. I do agree with your statements about equality and equal opportunity. I also agree that, in the ideal case, less government is more. I would prefer far less military as part of that less government, as well.

      2. This PRISON runs a program that produces entrepreneurs. (WHAT THE SCHOOLS SHOULD BE DOING).

        Since it’s beginning in 2004 it’s graduated 1,100 students, 165 businesses have been started, and at least 2 are generating $1 million a year.

        Someone is showing people that success is up to them.

      3. People should be paid based on the skills they bring to the table and the value they add. If you feel differently, then start your own businesses and pay this so-called living wage you talk about. So easy to tell others how to spend their money. Put up or shut up.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.