A caller to my Politics Done Right on KPFT 90.1 FM Houston was upset that I called out billionaires. At the end of the conversation, he mostly agreed. These are necessary conversations.
Yes, billionaires are more parasites than not.
The caller, Ted, was initially upset that I implied most billionaires were parasites. By definition, I must stand by that characterization. The nature of our indoctrination from birth has us making distinctions between wealthy and poor parasites — more on that later.
Ted’s first exception to my statement that the economy is closed and that billionaires progressively extracting more meant they were undeservedly taking it from the masses. He claimed that the economy was growing, so the statement was wrong. Hypothetically, if the economy is growing at three percent and the wealthy’s worth is growing at 12% then as a percentage of the economy, the rich continue to take more than their share. That is not a Left-Wing statement. That is math.
To be clear, I am not talking about your regular millionaires like those amassing $1, $2, $5, and $25 million. I am talking about the insanely rich, whose products and services to society are not commensurate with their financial worth. The question is whether the rich are deserving of said wealth. I chose to use to people I like.
Oprah Winfrey used our economic system and her talent to amass billions. And the design of our economic system allows her to build continually on her accumulation with no additional input to society if she so chooses. Likewise, Bill Gates bought a software package and then turned around and licensed it to IBM, allowing him to amass incomparable wealth based on that feat.
The engineers and scientists who designed the microphone, Cameras, communication equipment, and all the other technologies that give her the reach get paid one time. Others capitalize on their innovation. The man who sold his software (pre-MSDOS operating system) got paid once. Bill Gates, with his connections — he was invited to the club — got paid repeatedly with each computer sold.
To be sure, Oprah and Gates did nothing wrong. They took advantage like most would who were invited to the club would. It is the economic system that is inherently an aberration. It is antiseptic, though. The unfairness isn’t easily discerned even as its outcome is colossal wealth and income disparity.
There is a vast difference between capitalization and innovation. As an engineer who loves technology, what and when I innovate is not dependent on getting rich. Innovators love creating, yes, innovating. Our economic system awards more to those who capitalize on the innovation of others. Yet, the statement we get to object to the redistribution of unearned excess gains is that it would stifle innovation. That is a lie. Even in the most fascist or terrible countries, great scientists and engineers have innovated.
Ultimately, the caller grudgingly agreed with much of the arguments those of us who believe in fairness are trying to attain. It is important that we continue to tell the truth in a logical, fact-based manner ad-nauseam. The Powell Memo detailed the techniques needed to keep us indoctrinated to accept an oligarchy. I was pleasantly surprised recently with statements made by Vladimir Duthiers and Tony Dokoupil, who tried to make the case on a national network, CBS, and it was not edited out. We must be more effective at the grassroots level.