Monday, January 13, 2014

The Virtuous Rich

With another invaluable article, Kevin Williamson commemorates fifty years of LBJ's "Great Society". (Motto - Helping the nation's poor stay more firmly entrenched and feel more comfortable in their poverty while bankrupting our descendants in the process). Gracing the pages of the current issue of National Review (1/27/2014) and titled The Hard Working Rich, the article explains exactly why the rich in America are so much better off than the poor - they work more. Much more. Some of the remarkable statistics that Williamson cites are:

The richest of the poorest quarter of Americans have zero net worth. That is, this group has a large negative net worth.
Self-proclaimed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders says that rich capitalists like the Walton family have more wealth than the poorest 40% of Americans combined. So what? If you have a penny, you're richer than the bottom quarter.

Inherited wealth accounts for about 15 percent of the total assets of the hated 1 percenters.
Inherited wealth accounts for about 43 percent of the total assets of the lowest income group and about 31 percent for the second lowest.
In other words, contrary to leftist dogma, the rich have earned a higher proportion of their wealth than the poor have and confiscating all of the country's inherited wealth would make the poorest Americans poorer relative to the rich. (Williamson provides statistics showing similar numbers for earned income for the rich and poor).

The bottom income group contains, on average, 0.42 earners per household with 68.2 percent not working at all.
The highest income group contains, on average, 1.97 earners per household with 13.3 percent not working at all.
That is, the highest income group has almost five times the number of earners per household as the bottom income group.
So much for the myth of the idle rich. And for the left's romantic vision of the poor as overworked laborers receiving wages far below their actual worth. (Williamson notes that such people do exist but they are the exception, not the norm).

Williamson includes this tidbit - The most popular make of automobile among the wealthy is not a Ferrari or a BMW but the Ford F-150 pickup truck.

This being a Williamson piece, there's much more to it than statistics. He concludes with this disquieting and depressing thought.

...something is missing (from attempts to alleviate poverty), that priceless thing that makes an immigrant into a valedictorian or a successful publican, that inspires people to make the most out of the opportunities afforded by a society that is, for all of its present difficulties, stuffed with them. Mitt Romney might have some ideas about that, but Americans got a good hard look at him in 2012 and said no.

If you don't have an NR subscription it's worth dishing out 25 cents to read the entire thing.

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