The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get...Propagandized

It is not a bad thing that people become wealthy, unless they achieve their wealth at the expense of others. Politicians and others with ulterior motives want you to believe the rich become rich at the expense of the poor much more often than this actually occurs.

During the Christmas season, as always, it is important for us not only to be thankful for the things that we have, but also to be aware of those around us who are in destitute circumstances. Often, through no fault of their own, families fall on hard times. Politicians and pundits often point to a widening gap between the proverbial rich and the proverbial poor to claim that, not only is the incidence of poor people in America increasing, but that somehow it is the fault of the rich, as though the rich steal an ever greater slice of a static pie.

When a rich person acquires money by ill-gotten means, such as--ironically--by using government to expropriate property from lifelong home owners, he is guilty of theft and should be punished. But claiming that the nebulous group of 'the rich' are to blame for the plight of the nebulous group of 'the poor' is a gross oversimplification that overlooks more than one important fact. But the poor-mongers continue to harp on their emotionally charged but unprovable theses.

Thomas Sowell, the author of Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy, highlights one of these facts:

Although...the rich and the poor...may be discussed as if they different classes of people, often they are the very same people at different stages of their lives.

It is not uncommon for most of the people in the top 5 percent of income-earners to be 45 years old and up.

Remember when you were young and making close to the minimum wage, and how as time went on you developed skills and you now make a lot more money? That happened to me. I used to be in the class of poor, but I never thought of myself that way. But as I have gotten older and married and realized I had a responsibility to take care of a family, my desire to produce increase--with a commensurate increase in income.

The scariest thought that comes to mind when people claim that the rich are taking more of the pie than they should is their solution to what they see as a problem:

Lofty talk about "social justice" or "fairness" boils down to greatly expanded powers for politicians, since those pretty words have no concrete definition. They are a blank check for creating disparities in power that dwarf disparities in income -- and are far more dangerous.

Thomas Sowell recently struck again when he explained that if people don't even know what it takes to make a pencil, how should they know why someone is making a lot more money than something else? Interestingly enough, when these people complain about CEOs making $50 million a year, why don't they complain about Hoolywood stars and starlets who make even more?


  1. Well, at least Hollywood actors don't "make" their money by operating slave labor factories in the Third World, or through generous government tax loopholes!

    Besides, they entertain us. When was the last time a corporate CEO did that?

  2. Elizabeth,

    I'm interested in the "slave labor factories" point that you bring up. I think that most of the time what we think as slave labor is actually a step up for these people economically, and that when a country's economy improves, these types of jobs go away. I've seen stories on Business Week, for example, where bicycles that used to be very cheap are not so cheap any more, because skilled Chinese laborers can now demand more pay.


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