[FoRK] Bar Stool Economics

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Mon Sep 27 21:10:48 PDT 2010

On Sep 27, 2010, at 2:13 PM, Ken Meltsner <meltsner at alum.mit.edu> wrote:

> Both simple and simplistic.
> The well-off not only contribute more to running a society than the
> poor, they also receive more.  I'd have to dig up the statistics to
> back up this assertion, of course, but in the past I've read estimates
> of the level of government services consumed by different segments of
> the U.S. population, and unsurprisingly, they are not equal.  I
> hesitated to bring this up because I don't have the time needed to
> track down the objective numbers, but the wealthy, given that they
> tend to consume more, tend to consume more in government services as
> well.  The poor may receive a broader range of services -- medical,
> food assistance, etc. -- but despite the privatization of certain
> services (e.g. private security instead of police, private schools
> instead of public), they simply consume so much more than the poor
> that the balance shifts the other way.
> To over-extend the metaphor, it would be as if the wealthy individual
> received several pitchers for his contribution, and the poorest only
> received quarter-full glasses.
> More to come -- I dislike making unsupported assertions, but I also
> dislike the assumption that all of the beer servings are equal as
> well.

Pray tell, what exactly is this cornucopia of public good from which the rich par
take disproportionately?  Let's start with the big three.  Social security?  An accounting hassle, a rounding error for those of means.  Medicare etc.?  Don't make me laugh; these folks get the good stuff, and believe me, they pay WELL for it.  Defense of their assets?  In a world where wealth is increasingly mobile, I don't buy it;  this made sense when wealth was measured in contiguous acres, but no more.  However, you could take the jaded view that in fact it serves merely to destabilize and therefore create opportunity.  

Public schools?  Do you really think they send their kids there?  Oh, you mean all the "educated" workers they produce... And what a FINE crop THAT is.

Perhaps you mean all the special concessions they get, tax breaks, subsidies, etc.  Quid pro quo for the ruinous near-century of union favoritism that brought about the premature demise of American manufacturing?

Perhaps you mean infrastructure.  Do the rich drive on Interstate highways more?  Doubtful.  Ah, but their commerce must make greater use of them.  Perhaps, but those sunk costs were long ago paid in full.  The Internet?  I'd say it's already broken even for the government's initial costs as well, and in any case is mostly privately owned and operated.  Ditto railroads, etc. Etc.

Perhaps you mean bailouts?  You mean the ones that many bank execs did not want and are now not allowed to pay back?  Or the "stimulus" that's working out so well and in any case will dilute their wealth once they inevitable effects of monetary inflation truly kick in.  (But hey, at least inflation is a *fair* tax.) 

Seriously, it is very difficult to think of a single instance where the "tenth man" has any more beer than the "first" *in general.* (Their are of course parasitic exceptions.  I'm talking e.g. Larry Page, not e.g. the Bush crime syndicate,) 

This is just prole exploitation theology 101.  I eagerly await your data to the contrary.


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