AN analogue of Aesop’s Fable “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs” is found in the Suvannahamsa Jataka from the Buddhist book of monastic discipline. A poor father is reborn as a swan with golden feathers and tells his family to sell a single feather from his wings. The mother plucks all the gold feathers at once, but they turn to ordinary feathers and when the swan recovers its feathers, they are no longer gold.
When cellular mobile phones started to take off, a South American country’s legislature, displaying the special wisdom that politicians are famous for, decided that ordinary people should not be allowed to spend money on something so unnecessary and foolish. Import duties made the cost prohibitive to the “poor.”
One taxi owner saw a market for his services to rich cellphone owners and purchased one to be able to be contacted. Other not-rich passengers found out and paid the driver for the use of his cellphone. His cellphone became so popular that people lined up, not for rides but to call. Other taxi drivers saw this and eventually taxi stands became cellphone stands.
Being perceived as anti-working class is a political sin. But expressing contempt for the “rich class” is tolerable and encouraged. The 21st century mantra is that there is great bias against people of a particular race, ethnicity, religion, and gender. However, a study published by the American Psychological Association (founded 1892) in 2007 discovered that prejudices and stereotypes based on social economic class were much more pronounced.
The results were complicated. There was a strong stereotype that people from traditionally defined “lower” socio-economic groups were not capable of both academic and workforce high performance. However, people in the traditionally defined “higher” socio-economic groups might not be entitled to their wealth. Further, this group might in some way be responsible for the plight of the “Lowers.”
The idea that wealth and wealth creation is a “zero-sum” game where in order for one person to be rich another must be kept poor seems to be a throwback to the days when one was either a peasant or a noble.
Early 19th century French novelist/playwright Honoré de Balzac wrote: “The secret of great fortunes without apparent cause is a forgotten crime, because it was properly done.” Notice the key words: “without apparent cause.” “The Godfather” author Mario Puzo bastardized this to “Behind every successful fortune there is a crime.”
But the truth is that behind most first-generation fortunes is a great idea or hard work.
In 1975, Bill Gates and Tim Allen founded Microsoft, bought the rights to PC DOS (renamed MS-DOS), and licensed it to over 70 other companies. “Windows OS” runs more than 75 percent on all personal computers.
The “progressive” idea is that there is a moral difference between the money people earn from their labor and money they earn from using their capital. Hard work good: investing bad. It is fine—sort of—for Gates being a billionaire from Microsoft as long as he does not make any more money building high-rise offices and renting the space. Perhaps it is fine—sort of—for a tricycle driver to work harder to make a lot of money but maybe not fine to make enough money to buy more tricycles and charge other drivers a daily “boundary.”
Progressive US Senator Bernie Sanders is not a big fan of the uber-wealthy. He recently said, “There should be no billionaires. We are going to tax their extreme wealth and invest in working people.” Note “tax their extreme wealth” does not mean “invest in working people” but fund the US government’s $31.5 trillion debt.
“Share the wealth” people are always around like the animals from another fable “The Little Red Hen” that want a slice of the bread after it’s already baked. Eventually, though, they will have higher ambitions. How much wealthier would the Philippines be if Jollibee had been legally obligated not to have opened more than 250 locations instead of the current 1,100?
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