Monday, February 18, 2008

Silly NPR

I enjoy listening to the money show "Market Place" on NPR on Saturdays. They always have something silly to say about economics. This week I heard the following:

A writer being interviewed about the big strike, when discussing how many writers had to stop going out and spending money all the time (due to not getting paid for 4 months), used the term "working writers" to describe writers who are also middle class. Anybody see a problem here? Working writers? What other kind is there? Do rich writers not also work? Of course they do. This just illustrates how pervasive class-envy political tactics have become.

And one more: The weekly in-house money expert was demeaning a new study about income inequality urging that we look at the "consumption gap" instead of the income gap, because it shows how small the gap really is in terms of possessions (e.g., poor people and rich people all have lots of TVs, etc.). The "expert" said it didn't matter so much that poor people in 2008 are far better off than even middle-income people in the 1940s and 50s. What matters is that poor people are still poor relative to rich people. How much is this guy getting paid? That's like saying Tampa, FL, is hot relative to Antarctica. Well, duh--of course it is. Got any more words of wisdom? I suppose what he really wants is for everyone to make the same income. There's a name for that system, and it has little to do with freedom, justice and the American way.


Stephen said...

The whole discussion on income inequality raises the question, is socialism inevitable?

Europe has already fallen to it. We seem to be on our way, courtesy of the Democrats. Among others, Barack Obama is in favor of using the government to reduce income inequality (that is, redistribute wealth by force):

"Obama cited a report last week "that showed that income inequality is higher than it has been since 1928," and noted that the bottom 90 percent of U.S. income earners had their relative incomes fall last year. He favors increasing taxes on the wealthiest 10 percent to redirect the money to health care and education. Obama contended many wealthy people don't mind a progressive tax structure when they know their taxes go to help fund needed programs.

"Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society," he said, quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes."

The economic rhetoric that flies around on NPR would be silly if it weren't so dangerous ...

todd said...

Obama (and others) have a case to make for income inequality. Certainly, the means of "fixing" it will be clearly unfair (and will fail).

You see, greed has eaten up the house. Workers are greedier than ever, Executives are greedier than ever. The result has been that the execs are taking home the dough because they are the judge and jury. They are touting that if they didn't get insane, out of scale amounts of money working for this company that another company would pay it. In essense - they are "worth" it.

Meanwhile, these fatcats are also the one setting this trend. Case in point American Airlines had their employees take voluntary (really not so voluntary) pay cuts to "save" the company after 9/11. Meanwhile, their "leadership" made no such sacrifices and even recently split up 200 million in bonus amongst a handful of execs after the airline had recovered. What's their response? We have to pay our execs this much or we would loose them (or couldn't recruit them). Who says? They say, that's who. You can't convince me that you couldn't buck the trend and hire a well qualified strategic leader for a the bargain price of just 4-5 times the average worker (instead of 40x). They are the policy makers AND the blood money takers.

The employees will undoubtedly respond in an equally pathetic retaliation - tightening up the union code of laziness and taking the "you can't really fire me" position. The rich will take a similar "cornered cat" tactic if government policy hits them with some kind of contrived "rich tax".

It's only a matter of time before government is compelled to "fix" this. Certainly they will fail and spend more valuable taxpayer assets doing it. Yet you can't fix the heart with regulation. However, if Obama doesn't get elected to do it someone else will.

No nation has ever survived prosperity.

It's time to start valuing something more than money!

Philip said...

This column by Walter E. Williams refutes your points about greed to the letter. Self-interest (greed) is what makes capitalism work.

Travis said...

Your criticism of the NPR piece was spot on, but don't ruin your insightful post by glorying in greed. Capitalism is superior to socialism, but not because "greed is good"; it's not.