Slackers

Our world is infested by parasites; what keeps them down is partly Democracy and blah; partly that anywhere that becomes too uncompetitive gets out-competed. That's not a careful analysis, but what I mean is that we accept a balance as we must: as long as society functions, and produces enough wealth for all or most, we tolerate some parasites. And at least at the moment it is working: the share captured by the unproductive isn't too high...........William Connolley
Libertarians generally, and rich people especially, are preoccupied by slackers - those they perceive to not be pulling their weight.  Of course we don't all quite agree on who those "parasites" are.  There are some obvious suspects - the young, the aged and infirm.  Then, of course, are the unemployed.  People like that creep Mitt Romney think they are anybody who doesn't pay income taxes, even if the other taxes they pay amount to a higher tax rate than paid by Romney and his rich fans.

Most of us probably feel that those who chose to collect unemployment rather than look for a job are the "real" slackers.  I suppose I'm a bit of a slacker myself, since I hung up my badge and retired at age seventy, living on my pension and savings.  In my defense, I did some unpaid work as an emeritus employee for a couple of years, but was eventually defeated by the weird DoD rules on computer usage - unpaid workers can't have access to the network.

My choice for the top slackers in our society are the members of the rentier class.  To be sure, some of them have earned their money, even if it was often by suspect means.  The number one means of getting rich is to seize control of some resource and  effectively monopolize it.  Sometimes that it done by innovating and inventing, as in the case of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Walmart and others.  More commonly its done Donald Trump style, by taking advantage of tax dodges and swindling suppliers and suckers with bankruptcies and other dodges.

The money tree of the marginally more respectable is getting the law to sanction their property claims.  Bill Gates did not invent MS-DOS, but he did figure out how to monetize it.  Zuckerberg didn't invent the social network, but he too mastered the monetization.  Neither one made any contribution one tenth as significant as the invention of the Internet or the World Wide Web, but the guys who created those inventions don't top any lists of billionaires.

My point is that the wealthy like to style themselves wealth creators, but that's a vast exaggeration.  Their real skill was amassing wealth, not creating it.  I would argue that the rewards for this activity are vastly disproportionate.  Because these wealth amassers have effective control of legislating bodies they have constructed laws that ensure that they keep this disproportionate share.  Most of them also consume a disproportionate share of the world's resources - think private jets and 500 foot yachts.

For me, these guys may not be slackers, but they definitely can be parasites, and very greedy ones at that.  There may not be a cure in a capitalist society, and there aren't any obvious alternatives, but there is an effective treatment - a strongly progressive income tax.


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