# When do you consider someone "wealthy" or "rich"?

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by Seattle, Aug 8, 2019.

1. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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I did read the article. You said that 92% top marginal tax rates result in a 42% effective tax rate. So let's raise the top marginal rates to 92%. That will absolutely bring in more money - and millionaires will surely find a way around it so that they won't pay quite so much, just as they did back then.
Bullshit. Most people start companies because they want to start companies and be part of something big. I can think of a dozen examples I've been involved with. The best ones get rich - which is a side effect, not their goal.
Have you ever used GPS? A zipper? A paper/wax carton of milk? A flat screen? A match? Computer mouse? If so you have used Swedish inventions - currently the country with the highest taxes.

3. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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People will do what they like but they won't take the same risks. You'll end up with a smaller company or no company but you just tinker around on the side in your garage.

It's not that people won't do anything unless they can have gold faucets in their bathrooms. I know people in Sweden who have clients and as November and December come around they tend to decline new work because they don't make any more money as their income has hit a certain level already and they won't earn much more by working.

This is just a small example but multiplied throughout the economy it makes a big difference. You can't (effectively) argue that innovation is spread out equally throughout the world.

Taxation just isn't helpful in general. The government is needed for certain things. Beyond that it's more efficient for individuals and the private sector to allocate that capital. Go to Paris and traffic may be blocked because the police or some other union is on strike. Taxes are high, innovation is fairly low.

It's not a terrible place to live but most Americans are better off.

5. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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Why is that?
Taking fewer and smaller risks doesn't strike me as a terrible idea. Nor does the notion of a world without maga-monster corporations strike fear into my heart.
Oddly enough, neither are education and opportunity. Coincidence?

7. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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Undue corporate influence.

8. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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Being motivated by the desire for either wealth or fame is incomprehensible to me. I make music first and foremost for myself. It's certainly nice when people by my albums or pay to see me perform, but the satisfaction comes more from making something that other people appreciate more than anything else.

Everyone wants to make a decent living, and I suppose some like either the security or the luxury that wealth brings, but the desire for something vastly greater than a person could conceivably spend in a dozen or a hundred lifetimes? Why? And if that, i.e., accumulation of wealth, is your primary motivation, I don't even see how it could result in "great innovation."

9. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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Sweden tends to tax their middle class highly. The wealthier classes, not so much. They had a lot of changes in that regard due to capital flight.

People do what people do, it's additional risk that they don't take without additional reward.

Regarding taxes, if you read the article you would know that taxes taken in then were similar to what is taken in now. Therefore, you need to find another scapegoat.

10. ### parmaleeperipatetic artisanValued Senior Member

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I simply do not see evidence that supports the notion that the possibility for accruing great wealth is what motivates people to take great risks--or, conversely, the impossibility for such. There may well be correlations, but to identify such as the cause?

And why does anyone even want more wealth than they could possibly spend in multiple lifetimes, in the first place?

I am not saying this to sound virtuous, nor because I think that I am such an incredible person, but if I suddenly found myself with, say, ten million dollars, I would in all likelihood give the vast bulk of it to something like to Best Friends Animal Society, or Animal Liberation Front or something along those lines--precisely because I would want to see that money actually doing something that I am passionate about. Or, were I to invest the money, it would ultimately be towards those ends. This is pretty much what Bill Gates is doing, to my understanding--though he does still have a pretty swank lifestyle that does not appeal to me at all. And Wittgenstein gave away the bulk of his inherited wealth in his early twenties. (If anything, I'd buy myself a Bosendorfer Imperial and get rid of the rest.)

That just makes sense to me. I don't understand all this "legacy" shit, or whatever such accumulation is all about.

11. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I doubt that many people start out to accumulate "great wealth". People also don't do these things if there is nothing in it for them.

As a policy it simply doesn't make sense for the government to take wealth. How would the average person react if most of what you made on your job was taken away?

What if the few who made really good grades in school had to give up one letter grade to the poorest student in class?

What difference does it make if we have a wealthy class where everyone has hundreds of millions but there are no billionaires? The billionaires start the largest companies and take the most risks in general.

The government wouldn't suddenly be "wealthy" if you taxed all those people severely. The economy would eventually shrink however and then there would be less tax revenue.

Most of this discussion is mainly out of personal distaste for the perceived lifestyle of "the rich".

Everyone likes to mention the high marginal rates in the 50's. This didn't last long (for a reason) and came about only during the period just after WWII. It wasn't the reason for the prosperity, it was a result of the prosperity and the need to deal with WWII debt.

Also keep in mind that the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate among the developed countries so "rich" people do pay.

Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
12. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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Not the Libertarian chestnut!!
Okay, how would you like to work your ass off and compete against 200 other students to attain a 90%+ average to get into Medical School, while one of your classmates started out with 90% - a gift from his family?
I have no problem with anyone getting rich - it's up to the police and courts to weed out the ones who do it by illegal means - as long as they start from 0.

13. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I have no problem with those comments. If it's illegal, arrest them and if they don't deserve to be there, they shouldn't be there.

In the case of med school however they would still have to pass the medical boards but I agree, there shouldn't be "legacy" slots for competitive schools. I don't know if there is for med schools actually.

14. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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4,702
Oh, it's perfectly legal. Most people get a starting spot at the starting line; some start from a mile behind; a precious few start the race at the finish line. In every aspect of life - nurturing, education, career, well-being, living conditions, opportunities, scope of prospects, social status and ease of passage - even extrication from difficulty if they do something illegal.
That's not even beside my point; it's on a different table - yet another form of inequality.
I was responding to this old canard about redistribution of wealth:
Well, what if a few pre-designated students got free A's just for showing up?

15. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I think you are just looking for things to be upset about aren't you? That's not really a big problem.

16. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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I'm not upset. But inherited wealth and privilege juxtaposed with systemic disenfranchisement are a problem so enormous that you can't even see it - it blocks out the whole sky.

17. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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I don't get why someone would be concerned with inherited wealth. If your parents left you $100,000 would you have a problem with that? How about$1,000,000?

Is it billionaires kids getting their money that is a problem for you or is it any money that any kid gets? If you have any money and any kids, do you find it a problem for you to leave anything to them?

18. ### JeevesValued Senior Member

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That, too, is part of the problem.
Of course I wouldn't have a problem with privilege. None of us do. What causes all the problems in society is that the privileged are fine with their advantage, don't want to share it or relinquish any of it. On the contrary, they use the advantages of education, connections and opportunities to build on their wealth, increase their political clout, consolidate their position and confer even greater privilege on their own offspring, steadily depriving more and more other people of the benefits they accumulate onto themselves, steadily widening the disparity of wealth, influence, security and well-being.... And then are completely flabbergasted that the underprivileged get pissed off about it. Every dozen generations or so, the disenfranchised and marginalized get so tired of carrying the overprivileged that they rise up and pry the reins of control out of the upper classes' cold, dead hands.
It is the existence - nay, the very idea! - of billionnaires.

Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
19. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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18,703
That would be great!

But if in the next breath you are going to claim that those kids are playing on a level playing field with everyone else - then I have to laugh. They start out with tremendous privilege that most people don't have.

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Which kids? Only the billionaires kids? How about your kids (where you actually have any or not)? You have 3 kids, you and your wife die at 85, you kids are in their 50's and 60's and they each get $100k or whatever. Where is the "tremendous privilege" in that? What is the alternative? To make sure that no one has anything all in the name of equal outcomes? It's silly. 21. ### billvonValued Senior Member Messages: 18,703 It's not. But you are changing the goalposts here. Jeeves talked about how "most people get a starting spot at the starting line; some start from a mile behind; a precious few start the race at the finish line. In every aspect of life - nurturing, education, career, well-being, living conditions, opportunities, scope of prospects, social status and ease of passage - even extrication from difficulty if they do something illegal." You said he just wanted to be upset, that getting 100K or 1M from your parents was not a problem. And if a child (not a 50 year old) gets 1M from his parents (which is what Jeeves was talking about) that puts him WAY ahead of his peers. He has a level of privilege that most people never get. And if he's also white, straight, male, and has no deformities or disabilities - then he is going to be in a very good place indeed. He is, as Jeeves put it, starting at the finish line. Pretending "hey, he has no advantages that a disabled black girl doesn't have! Even if she doesn't have any money. They are all equal" would be absurd. Is it a problem for him? Nope. Is it a problem for that black girl if she wants to get ahead, and a pack of white male trust fund kids is starting ten feet from the finish line? Yeah, it sorta is. She doesn't have much of a chance to win that race, or even come in a respectable third. 22. ### SeattleValued Senior Member Messages: 6,321 Her problem isn't that he inherited a million dollars, although as you said, this isn't much of a problem because it doesn't happen to many people. Most people who inherit any money do so when their parents die. No one starts at the finish line in a competitive environment. He may not need to work, how does that harm her. Or he may just live a do nothing life, again, how does that harm her. If he gets a job without working as hard at it as her, that's life for all/most of us. Life's outcomes aren't equal. You're better off than someone and someone is better off than you. What is your suggestion? Is it that younger children of wealthy parents be legally banned from receiving money from those parents? You need to focus on increasing her opportunities rather than taking his away IMO. 23. ### JeevesValued Senior Member Messages: 4,702 True. Her problem is that she has to survive in a society run by that spoiled brat and his private-school classmates. Remember - 'cos for damn sure, a the ruling class doesn't want to! - that a good deal of that inherited wealth came down from plantation owners, slave traders and privateers. So, do you mean that the more concentrated wealth and power are, the less threat they pose to the polity? The capital, yes. And siblings might even indulge in delicious litigation over it. Until then, for 50 or 60 years, a billionnaire's offspring lives pretty much the same life, experiences all the same hazards and possibilities, as the illegitimate child of teenage runaway who's been addicted to drugs and forced into prostitution. Not! Of course not. Some people are above the competition. One way: the government, much of which his daddy owns, allocates lots and lots of$ to arming the police force that protects him and his daddy's property and very few $to her school and neighbourhood clinic. Moreover, those policemen zealously protecting his daddy's property against people who look like her sort of by mistake shot her father dead a while back, and her mother's trying to raise her and three brothers (not like she wanted that many kids, but the fundamentalists who supported the conservative candidate in the district where she wasn't allowed to vote because she had the same name as a felon; though they don't know each other, their ancestors were owned by an ancestor of trust-fund boy and had the same name stuck on them, and the family planning center got closed down) so doesn't have any time to help her with homework, while trust-fund boy's been terrorizing his way through poorly-paid private tutors since age 5. Or, he may take that first$mil his daddy lends him and buy up her block for redevelopment into a big shiny byootiful casino where only rich people can play. So now she's got no place to live.
But the odds are not so very hard to calculate from the start, which will turn out better.
Nah! Let 'em spoil their kids. After all the excess money's been taxed off them and reinvested in the society.
Exactly! Get that heavy equipment in here and start levelling that field!

Last edited: Aug 15, 2020