1. Write an argumentative essay, please don’t use outside research use only the articles attached. be a minimum of 1250 words.
1. directly address the writing prompt you choose from those provided.
1. display engagement with the assigned articles through quoting, paraphrasing, and or summarizing as appropriate.
1. include source material from any of the assigned texts in each body paragraph.
1. include source material from a minimum of three of the assigned texts.
1. accurately acknowledge the use of material from texts.
1. demonstrate college-level skills in grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary.
1. employ competency of academic paper structure.
1. Should anyone have a billion dollars?
1. Are billionaires helping or hurting society?
Select one of the topic and write base on the 4 article
Essay 1 Assignment Sheet: The Billion Dollar Question
In his article, “Is $1 Billion Too Much Money for Any One Person to Have?” Jeremy Engle begins by stating:
In 2018, there were585 billionaires in America, with a combined wealth of over $2.8 trillion. The wealthiest, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has anet worth of $160 billion.
Theworld’s eight richest individualshave as much wealth as the bottom half in the world, and thethree richest Americanshold more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the United States.
In light of this, write an argumentative essay in response to ONE of the following prompts:
1) Should anyone have a billion dollars?
2) Are billionaires helping or hurting society?
Your essay must:
· be a minimum of 1250 words.
· directly address the writing prompt you choose from those provided.
· display engagement with the assigned articles through quoting, paraphrasing, and or summarizing as appropriate.
· include source material from any of the assigned texts in each body paragraph.
· include source material from a minimum of three of the assigned texts.
· accurately acknowledge the use of material from texts.
· demonstrate college-level skills in grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary.
· employ competency of academic paper structure.
Your essay must:
· include the necessary elements for an argumentative paper:
· Introduction (containing,
· Condition of terms/Background information (summarize/explain/justify the importance of your issue & argument)
· Body (contains support, examples, scenarios, etc.)
· Conclusion (summarize and close your argument with either a necessity for recognizing the problem or presenting a “call to action” for that problem)
· Consider the following:
· Your audience: To whom are you writing and what does this particular audience need to know about your argument and why do they need to know it? The more specific your audience is, the easier it will be to anticipate the ways in which you need to present your argument.
· Your purpose (thesis): Are you trying to “shed light” on a situation to raise awareness, or are you creating a “call to action” by asking people to do something about a situation that is already defined as an issue?
· Your position: What is the logic behind your argument (do so by avoiding the use of “I think”, “I believe”, or “I feel” statements)? Is it clearly supported throughout your paper?
· Expectations and Requirements:
· 1) Not only do you need to take a position, but you need to clearly define what your position entails.
Outline: 6/14 by 11:59pm
Rough Draft: 6/16 before class (Full Draft)
Final Draft: 6/24 by 11:59pm
12pt in a standard font (i.e. , Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri)
1 inch margins in all directions
Indent each paragraph and do not add blank lines between paragraphs.
The header should look like this:
6/16/22 (this should be the date it is due)
Rough Draft (always indicate which draft it is)
Adult-it’s all good in the-hood
(or whatever catchy title you come up with)
Notice that I have indented the first line of the paragraph and I have not added multiple blank lines (with the exception of one blank line between the header and the title), I have also stated which draft of the essay I am turning in. I have used the standard font, Calibri, in point 12 size. Also notice that my name and class information is in the upper left-hand corner of the page and is single-spaced; the title is centered. The body of the essay is double-spaced. This is how the body of each of your paragraphs should look. Happy writing!
Socialism vs. Capitalism: What Is the Difference?
By Robert Longley
History and Government Expert
• B.S., Texas A&M University
Robert Longley is a U.S. government and history expert with over 30 years of experience in
municipal government and urban planning.
Updated on April 11, 2022
Socialism and capitalism are the two main economic systems used in developed
countries today. The main difference between capitalism and socialism is the
extent to which the government controls the economy.
Key Takeaways: Socialism vs. Capitalism
• Socialism is an economic and political system under which the means of
production are publicly owned. Production and consumer prices are
controlled by the government to best meet the needs of the people.
• Capitalism is an economic system under which the means of production
are privately owned. Production and consumer prices are based on a free-
market system of “supply and demand.”
• Socialism is most often criticized for its provision of social services
programs requiring high taxes that may decelerate economic growth.
• Capitalism is most often criticized for its tendency to allow income
inequality and stratification of socio-economic classes.
Socialist governments strive to eliminate economic inequality by tightly
controlling businesses and distributing wealth through programs that benefit the
poor, such as free education and healthcare. Capitalism, on the other hand, holds
that private enterprise utilizes economic resources more efficiently than the
government and that society benefits when the distribution of wealth is
determined by a freely-operating market.
Means of production owned by
Means of production owned by
government or cooperatives
Income Equality Income determined by free
Income equally distributed according
Prices determined by supply
Prices set by the government
Free market competition
encourages efficiency and
Government-owned businesses have
less incentive for efficiency and
Healthcare Healthcare provided by private
Healthcare provided free or subsidized
by the government
Taxation Limited taxes based on
High taxes necessary to pay for public
The United States is generally considered to be a capitalist country, while many
Scandinavian and Western European countries are considered socialist
democracies. In reality, however, most developed countries—including the U.S.—
employ a mixture of socialist and capitalist programs.
Capitalism is an economic system under which private individuals own and
control businesses, property, and capital—the “means of production.” The volume
of goods and services produced is based on a system of “supply and demand,”
which encourages businesses to manufacture quality products as efficiently and
inexpensively as possible.
In the purest form of capitalism—free market or laissez-faire capitalism—
individuals are unrestrained in participating in the economy. They decide where
to invest their money, as well as what to produce and sell at what prices. True
laissez-faire capitalism operates without government controls. In reality,
however, most capitalist countries employ some degree of government regulation
of business and private investment.
Capitalist systems make little or no effort to prevent income inequality.
Theoretically, financial inequality encourages competition and innovation, which
drive economic growth. Under capitalism, the government does not employ the
general workforce. As a result, unemployment can increase during economic
downturns. Under capitalism, individuals contribute to the economy based on the
needs of the market and are rewarded by the economy based on their personal
Socialism describes a variety of economic systems under which the means of
production are owned equally by everyone in society. In some socialist
economies, the democratically elected government owns and controls major
businesses and industries. In other socialist economies, production is controlled
by worker cooperatives. In a few others, individual ownership of enterprise and
property is allowed, but with high taxes and government control.
The mantra of socialism is, “From each according to his ability, to each according
to his contribution.” This means that each person in society gets a share of the
economy’s collective production—goods and wealth—based on how much they
have contributed to generating it. Workers are paid their share of production
after a percentage has been deducted to help pay for social programs that serve
“the common good.”
In contrast to capitalism, the main concern of socialism is the elimination of
“rich” and “poor” socio-economic classes by ensuring an equal distribution of
wealth among the people. To accomplish this, the socialist government controls
the labor market, sometimes to the extent of being the primary employer. This
allows the government to ensure full employment even during economic
The Socialism vs. Capitalism Debate
The key arguments in the socialism vs. capitalism debate focus on socio-
economic equality and the extent to which the government controls wealth and
Ownership and Income Equality
Capitalists argue that private ownership of property (land, businesses, goods, and
wealth) is essential to ensuring the natural right of people to control their own
affairs. Capitalists believe that because private-sector enterprise uses resources
more efficiently than government, society is better off when the free market
decides who profits and who does not. In addition, private ownership of property
makes it possible for people to borrow and invest money, thus growing the
Socialists, on the other hand, believe that property should be owned by everyone.
They argue that capitalism’s private ownership allows a relatively few wealthy
people to acquire most of the property. The resulting income inequality leaves
those less well off at the mercy of the rich. Socialists believe that since income
inequality hurts the entire society, the government should reduce it through
programs that benefit the poor such as free education and healthcare and higher
taxes on the wealthy.
Under capitalism, consumer prices are determined by free market forces.
Socialists argue that this can enable businesses that have become monopolies to
exploit their power by charging excessively higher prices than warranted by their
In socialist economies, consumer prices are usually controlled by the
government. Capitalists say this can lead to shortages and surpluses of essential
products. Venezuela is often cited as an example. According to Human Rights
Watch, “most Venezuelans go to bed hungry.” Hyperinflation and deteriorating
health conditions under the socialist economic policies of President Nicolás
Maduro have driven an estimated 3 million people to leave the country as food
became a political weapon.
Efficiency and Innovation
The profit incentive of capitalism’s private ownership encourages businesses to
be more efficient and innovative, enabling them to manufacture better products
at lower costs. While businesses often fail under capitalism, these failures give
rise to new, more efficient businesses through a process known as “creative
Socialists say that state ownership prevents business failures, prevents
monopolies, and allows the government to control production to best meet the
needs of the people. However, say capitalists, state ownership breeds inefficiency
and indifference as labor and management have no personal profit incentive.
Healthcare and Taxation
Socialists argue that governments have a moral responsibility to provide essential
social services. They believe that universally needed services like healthcare, as a
natural right, should be provided free to everyone by the government. To this
end, hospitals and clinics in socialist countries are often owned and controlled by
Capitalists contend that state, rather than private control, leads to inefficiency
and lengthy delays in providing healthcare services. In addition, the costs of
providing healthcare and other social services force socialist governments to
impose high progressive taxes while increasing government spending, both of
which have a chilling effect on the economy.
Capitalist and Socialist Countries Today
Today, there are few if any developed countries that are 100% capitalist or
socialist. Indeed, the economies of most countries combine elements of socialism
In Norway, Sweden, and Denmark—generally considered socialist—the
government provides healthcare, education, and pensions. However, private
ownership of property creates a degree of income inequality. An average of 65%
of each nation’s wealth is held by only 10% of the people—a characteristic of
The economies of Cuba, China, Vietnam, Russia, and North Korea incorporate
characteristics of both socialism and communism.
While countries such as Great Britain, France, and Ireland have strong socialist
parties, and their governments provide many social support programs, most
businesses are privately owned, making them essentially capitalist.
The United States, long considered the prototype of capitalism, isn’t even ranked
in the top 10 most capitalist countries, according to the conservative think tank
Heritage Foundation. The U.S. drops in the Foundation’s Index of Economic
Freedom due to its level of government regulation of business and private
Indeed, the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution sets one the nation’s goals to be
“promote the general welfare.” In order to accomplish this, the United States
employs certain socialist-like social safety net programs, such as Social Security,
Medicare, food stamps, and housing assistance.
Contrary to popular belief, socialism did not evolve from Marxism. Societies that
were to varying degrees “socialist” have existed or have been imagined since
ancient times. Examples of actual socialist societies that predated or were
uninfluenced by German philosopher and economic critic Karl Marx were
Christian monastic enclaves during and after the Roman Empire and the 19th-
century utopian social experiments proposed by Welsh philanthropist Robert
Owen. Premodern or non-Marxist literature that envisioned ideal socialist
societies include The Republic by Plato, Utopia by Sir Thomas More, and Social
Destiny of Man by Charles Fourier.
Socialism vs. Communism
Unlike socialism, communism is both an ideology and a form of government. As
an ideology, it predicts the establishment of a dictatorship controlled by the
working-class proletariat established through violent revolution and the eventual
disappearance of social and economic class and state. As a form of government,
communism is equivalent in principle to the dictatorship of the proletariat and in
practice to a dictatorship of communists. In contrast, socialism is not tied to any
specific ideology. It presupposes the existence of the state and is compatible with
democracy and allows for peaceful political change.
While no single person can be said to have invented capitalism, capitalist-like
systems existed as far back as ancient times. The ideology of modern capitalism is
usually attributed to Scottish political economist Adam Smith in his classic 1776
economic treatise The Wealth of Nations. The origins of capitalism as a
functional economic system can be traced to 16th to 18th century England, where
the early Industrial Revolution gave rise to mass enterprises, such as the textile
industry, iron, and steam power. These industrial advancements led to a system
in which accumulated profit was invested to increase productivity—the essence of
Despite its modern status as the world’s predominant economic system,
capitalism has been criticized for several reasons throughout history. These
include the unpredictable and unstable nature of capitalist growth, social harms,
such as pollution and abusive treatment of workers, and forms of economic
disparity, such as income inequality. Some historians connect profit-driven
economic models such as capitalism to the rise of oppressive institutions such
as human enslavement, colonialism, and imperialism.
Sources and Further Reference
• “Back to Basics: What is Capitalism?” International Monetary Fund, June 2015,
• Fulcher, James. “Capitalism A Very Short Introduction.” Oxford, 2004, ISBN 978-
• de Soto, Hernando. The Mystery of Capital.” International Monetary Fund,
• Busky, Donald F. “Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey.” Praeger, 2000, ISBN
• Nove, Alec. “The Economics of Feasible Socialism Revisited.” Routledge, 1992, ISBN-
• Newport, Frank. “The Meaning of ‘Socialism’ to Americans Today.” Gallup,
October 2018), https://news.gallup.com/opinion/polling-
Should Billionaires Even Exist?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren believe some Americans have too much
money, and they’re not alone.
By Emily Peck
Jan 30, 2019, 03:59 PM EST
You know what’s not cool anymore?
Their very existence is now the subject
of political debate, sparked most
recently by tax-the-rich proposals from
two prominent politicians.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
proposed placing a 2 percent tax on
wealth over $50 million and 3 percent
on assets over $1 billion.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said she wants to increase the marginal tax rate on
those earning more than $10 million a year.
Their ideas went viral, starting a mainstream conversation about inequality and wealth.
This kind of talk has always existed among a certain group of hard-core progressives and
left-leaning economists, but heading into next year’s presidential election, the idea that the
super-rich should pay their fair share is gaining real momentum.
Marshall Steinbaum, a research director at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute, has
advocated taxing the rich at higher rates for years. “We do not need billionaires,”
Steinbaum told HuffPost. “The economy’s done better without billionaires in the past.”
For Steinbaum, higher taxes on the wealthy would mean freeing up more money for
everyone else. If you think of the economy as a pie, right now, billionaires are getting just
about all of it, while we’re all left splitting just one slice.
If you raise taxes on the richest, their incentive to grab at every morsel declines. The theory
is they’ll fight a little less hard to depress everyone else’s wages if they know that every
extra million is going to get taxed away. A high-paid CEO has less incentive to keep
workers’ wages low so he can get a bigger payday.
Billionaires were once a rare breed. In the past few decades, as the U.S. has slashed tax
rates, their numbers have exploded, far outpacing inflation.
Since 2008, the number of billionaires in the world has doubled, according to a report
published last week by the anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam. In just the last year, billionaires
raked in an astonishing $2.5 billion each day.
In 1982, the first year Forbes debuted its list of the 400 richest Americans, there were
about a dozen billionaires. The richest man in the U.S. back then was an 85-year-old
shipping magnate with an estimated worth of $2 billion, or $5.2 billion in today’s dollars.
Nowadays, Forbes’ list is entirely billionaires. The richest is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos,
worth $160 billion.
Of course, rich people are, with a few exceptions, freaking out over the idea that their taxes
might go up. The Wall Street Journal editorial page is in full panic mode and Rush
Limbaugh is trotting out the Hitler comparisons.
Billionaire presidential hopeful Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO, is so panicked
about higher taxes on the rich that he decided to abandon the Democratic Party and run as
an independent, he said in an interview with CNBC.
Schultz clocks in at No. 280 on Forbes’ list with a net worth of $3.4 billion. He grew up in a
public housing development. The fact that one of the nation’s most successful men started
out living in government-supported housing is but a tiny example of how taxes can help
those at the bottom rise to the top. Without that kind of support, many successful
Americans would be toiling away, minus their fortunes.
There is a raft of policies in place that help America crank out billionaires: lax antitrust
laws and regulations; strong intellectual property protections; low tax rates; government-
funded research. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (No. 2 on Forbes’ list in 2018) couldn’t
have amassed a fortune, for example, without strict copyright and patent protections on his
software, Steinbaum pointed out.
The late Steve Jobs, widely regarded as an absolute genius who deserved every last dollar,
used a boatload of government-funded technology to help create his defining device, the
iPhone. Google also benefited from government-funded research, argues Mariana
Mazzucato in a piece in the Harvard Business Review.
“Over the years. U.S. taxpayers have been very good to Apple,” she writes, adding that in
return, the Cupertino, California, computer maker and other tech companies have done
everything they can to get out of paying taxes and paying it forward.
Most entrepreneurs like to argue that they’ve achieved great wealth in spite of the
government, not with its help.
There are exceptions. Warren Buffet famously wrote about his light tax burden, as
compared to his secretary, for example.
Chris Sacca, a retired venture capitalist estimated to be worth about $1 billion and known
for his early investments in Twitter and Uber, tweeted his tentative support for Warren’s
Very lucky guy here (who got rich in part thanks to public schools, access to health care, etc.), weighing in to say that @ewarren's proposal to put a 2-3% annual tax on wealth over $50 million is *extremely* and *radically*… reasonable. https://t.co/8HtpesjSdY
— Chris Sacca 🇺🇸 (@sacca) January 24, 2019
wealth tax last week. “Very lucky guy here (who got rich in part thanks to public schools,
access to health care, etc.), weighing in to say that @ewarren’s proposal to put a 2-3%
annual tax on wealth over $50 million is *extremely* and *radically*… reasonable.”
When asked by HuffPost to elaborate, Sacca was careful not to embrace Warren’s proposal.
“Too many Americans are working their asses off yet struggling to make ends meet. The
social safety net is slipping away, and with it, many people’s shot at the American dream,”
Sacca said. “Senator Warren’s proposal would be hard to define and implement, and there
are intriguing alternatives. I’m not endorsing her specific approach as much as I am the
need for all of us to talk about this stuff. We all need to have a reasonable and productive
conversation about the best ways the privilege of some can ensure life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness for all.”
Schultz, meanwhile, has called criticism of a system that creates billionaires “so un-
For a long time, however, the idea that a handful of plutocrats would control most of the
wealth in the United States was itself seen as deeply un-American, said Steinbaum, the
In the beginning, of course, the U.S. was a nation in which dynastic wealth was something to
rebel against. The ethos that the rich should only get so rich was baked into our tax code
beginning in the 20th century. Indeed, from 1936-1980, the top tax rate never dipped
below 70 percent.
The idea that paying taxes was a civic good started to sour in the 1980s during the Reagan
years, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that billionaires got a rethink.
Thank the tech boom. In the 1990s, tech billionaires became fetish objects. Khaki-wearing
“geniuses” like Gates were worshipped in places like Fast Company magazine.
“The ’90s were a time when people were cheering for billionaires, and I thought that was
such a strange thing to do,” said Thomas Frank, a political analyst, historian and author
of Pity the Billionaire.
“Having billionaires became an end in itself,” Frank said. “It was so obviously
Rich tech bros even got a pass in the wake of the Great Recession when bankers became
reviled. It’s hard to remember now, but once upon a time, Facebook founder Mark
Zuckerberg was thought to be a wunderkind, here to change the world.
“Should we even have billionaires?” is the defining question of 2019, said Anand
Giridharadas, the author of Winners Take All, a scathing critique of the plutocrat class’s
largely empty efforts to “change the world” published last year.
“No one makes a billion dollars. You TAKE a billion dollars,” economist Stephanie Kelton, a
former advisor to Bernie Sanders, tweeted last week.
Tweets by ewarren
No one makes a billion dollars. You TAKE a billion dollars. You take it from your workers (Hi, Jeff, Jim, and Alice!). You plunder it from the environment (What up, Charles & David?). You strip it using patents/protections (Lookin' at you, Bill.) https://t.co/cRSdtXoNUD
— Stephanie Kelton (@StephanieKelton) January 22, 2019
“You plunder it from the environment …You strip it using patent protections,” she wrote,
referencing the many ways the U.S. enables and supports people ― IP protections, lax
regulation, low taxes, weak labor protections ― in amassing obscene amounts of wealth.
Ocasio-Cortez made the same point recently in an interview: Every billionaire is a “policy
failure,” she said.
Capitalism Isn’t Bad; It’s Just
President of Mauldin Economics
Feb 12, 2019,12:43pm EST
The Soviet Union’s collapse ended the socialism vs. capitalism argument.
Semi-free markets spread through Eastern Europe. Collectivist economies
everywhere began turning free. Capitalism seemingly won.
Even communist China adopted a form of free market capitalism. Although, as
they say, it has “Chinese characteristics.”
With all its faults and problems, capitalism generated the greatest
accumulation of wealth in human history. It has freed millions of people from
A few hundred years ago, the majority of people stood below the poverty line.
Today, the global poverty rate is at record-low 10%. And that number is
shrinking every year.
Yet now, some on the left are again embracing socialist ideas and irrationally
high taxes. What drives this thinking?
In practice, “capitalism” does indeed have flaws that justify the criticism. It is,
to paraphrase Winston Churchill, the worst of all systems, except for
One problem is that today’s capitalism has contracted to an extent that is hard
to ignore. Competition is increasingly shrinking in key markets.
And that’s a big problem.
Competition incentivizes producers to get more efficient and reduce prices for
consumers. Without competition, you end up with bloated monopolies. They
may be highly profitable for the owners, but don’t serve the public.
My good friend Jonathan Tepper wrote an excellent new book on this: The
Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition.
He and co-author Denise Hearn explain why this is a serious problem with
I’ll use some excerpts from the book for this discussion.
Not Free to Choose
Like me, Tepper respects capitalism and capitalists. He’s not a leftist shill.
It’s because he respects capitalism that he wants to see the best version of it.
The book refers to Milton Friedman’s old TV series Free to Choose, then says
“Free to Choose” sounds great. Yet Americans are not free to choose.
In industry after industry, they can only purchase from local monopolies or
oligopolies that can tacitly collude. The US now has many industries with only
three or four competitors controlling entire markets. Since the early 1980s,
market concentration has increased severely. We’ve already described the
airline industry. Here are other examples:
• Two corporations control 90 percent of the beer Americans
• Five banks control about half of the nation’s banking assets.
• Many states have health insurance markets where the top two
insurers have an 80 percent to 90 percent market share. For
example, in Alabama one company, Blue Cross Blue Shield,
has an 84 percent market share and in Hawaii it has 65
percent market share.
• When it comes to high-speed internet access, almost all
markets are local monopolies; over 75 percent of households
have no choice with only one provider.
• Four players control the entire US beef market and have
carved up the country.
• After two mergers this year, three companies will control 70
percent of the world’s pesticide market and 80 percent of the
US corn-seed market.
The list of industries with dominant players is endless. It gets even worse
when you look at the world of technology. Laws are outdated to deal with the
extreme winner-takes-all dynamics online. Google completely dominates
internet searches with an almost 90 percent market share. Facebook has an
almost 80 percent share of social networks. Both have a duopoly in advertising
with no credible competition or regulation.
Amazon is crushing retailers and faces conflicts of interest as both the
dominant e-commerce seller and the leading online platform for third-party
sellers. It can determine what products can and cannot sell on its platform,
and it competes with any customer that encounters success.
Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android completely control the mobile app
market in a duopoly, and they determine whether businesses can reach their
customers and on what terms. Existing laws were not even written with digital
platforms in mind.
So far, these platforms appear to be benign dictators, but they are dictators
Small Drives Growth
Now, to be clear, some industries need such massive scale. Thus they can only
support a small number of producers.
Passenger aircraft, for instance. You have Boeing, Airbus, and a handful of
smaller players that make smaller airplanes.
Most industries aren’t like that.
Banking certainly isn’t. Lots of studies show a bank’s efficiency stops
improving once it passes $50 billion or so in assets.
Yet the megabanks have grown larger without growing more efficient. They
have done so by killing local banks that once financed local businesses on
That’s a problem because we need those small, local businesses.
Here’s Tepper again:
Ever since the time of Thomas Jefferson, Americans have idealized the
yeoman farmer and the small business. While family neighborhood stores are
a critical part of the economy, it is important to distinguish between small
businesses and the high-growth startups that Haltiwanger describes.
Small businesses like restaurants and dry cleaners create most jobs, but they
also destroy most jobs. They create most new businesses, but they have the
highest rate of failures. They are important, but they don’t drive productivity.
It is the small companies that become big, like the next Costco, Southwest
Airlines or Celgene. All of these started small.
Geoffrey West, in his masterful book “Scale,” showed that companies are like
living organisms. Just like in the animal world, many startups die when they
are very young, but those that survive and grow quickly tend to grow
exponentially, which leads to higher profitability and productivity.
Note, this is not an argument against large companies. They have an
important role. But the real innovation and growth starts much lower on the
So, it is a problem when small business loses the chance to thrive and prove
I go fishing in Maine every summer with a group of economists. Maine has
complex rules for its lakes, governing which fish you can keep or must release.
We rely on professional guides to know the differences, but the general idea is
to give the younger fish from underpopulated species a chance to grow. This
preserves the lakes as a resource for everyone.
We might look at small businesses the same way. Most won’t grow into big
businesses, but it serves everyone to protect their opportunity.
As Tepper points out, that isn’t happening. We’re already paying a price, and it
is getting worse.
Billionaires Should Not Exist — Here’s Why
BY REBEKKA AYRES
DECEMBER 29, 2021
In a fair society, there would be no billionaires. Bernie Sanders says they shouldn’t exist and Elizabeth
Warren sells mugs of their tears. I’m talking about billionaires and making the case that an economic
system that allows them is immoral.
We have arrived at an obscene inequality crisis, in which wealth is concentrated in the hands of a
powerful few, at the cost of crippling hardship, precarity, and compromised well-being for the many.
When a single billionaire can accumulate more money in 10 seconds than their employees make in one
year, while workers struggle to meet the basic cost of rent and medicine, then yes, every billionaire
really is a policy failure. Here’s why.
What does a billion dollars look like?
Most of us would consider a multimillionaire to be extremely wealthy. A billion dollars exists on an
altogether different scale. If you want to imagine what it looks like, this visualizer compares bundles of
$100 bills to show how a million stacks up to a billion. It’s a mind-bogglingly large sum of money, so let’s
try to make it meaningful in day-to-day terms. If someone gave you $1,000 every single day and you
didn’t spend a cent, it would take you three years to save up a million dollars. If you wanted to save a
billion, you’d be waiting around 2,740 years. See for yourself — this calculator works out how long it
would take for one of the big billionaire CEOs to earn your annual salary or pay off your student loan. All
this shows how the personal wealth of billionaires cannot be made through hard work alone. The
accumulation of extreme wealth depends on other systems, such as exploitative labor practices, tax
breaks, and loopholes that are beyond the reach of most ordinary people.
How does a billionaire become so wealthy?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explains how the ultra-rich can be seen as beneficiaries of an unjust economic
system where she says billionaires don’t make money, they take money. It’s impossible to have that
much money without profiting off of other people’s lack of it. Even if individuals are only implicated
discreetly, the capitalist class generates profits upwards by denying workers a living wage, engaging in
exploitative labor practices (directly or indirectly along the supply chain), ensuring that medicine and
health care costs remain high, or lobbying for or even simply benefitting from favorable taxation policies
and cushy government subsidies. Wealth is also able to accumulate via close proximity to power, with
corporate connections leading to elected office, or merely allowing people to use their influential status
to set the agenda according to their own interests. This is known as plutocracy, or rule by the rich, and it
undermines democracy. It’s no coincidence that Donald Trump’s landmark 2017 tax cuts were driven
largely by big business and helped billionaires pay less than the working class for the first time. When
the capitalist class is able to write the rulebook and lobby for preferential tax rates, it’s virtually
impossible to achieve social and economic reform in a way that is meaningful to the majority of working-
and middle-class Americans.
Is it possible to be a self-made billionaire?
It’s really a question of whether anyone can ever be “self-made,” or whether this is the language of a
larger myth that justifies wealth inequality. The self-made myth conceals the multitude of barriers to
wealth accumulation and reinforces the notion that if you’re poor, it’s because you’re lazy or made bad
choices. The notion that a billionaire has worked hard for every penny of their wealth is simply fanciful.
The median U.S. salary is $34,612, but even if you tripled that and saved every penny for a lifetime, you
still wouldn’t accumulate anywhere close to a billion dollars. Here, it’s also worth looking at Oxfam’s
extensive study on extreme wealth, which found that approximately one-third of global billionaire
fortunes were inherited. It’s not about working harder, smarter, or better. There are many factors built
into our economic system that help extreme wealth to multiply fast. It’s a matter of being well-placed to
benefit from the structures that favor capital and produce a profit off the back of exploitation.
How deep is the inequality divide?
In October 2021, there were 745 American billionaires, while around 11.5% of the population live below
the poverty line. During the pandemic, their collective fortunes swelled by $2.1 trillion — just to frame
that figure in real terms, that roughly equates to more than the total outstanding student debt and
more than is being offered in Biden’s “once-in-a-generation” American Families Plan, which promises
national investment for 10 years. Meanwhile, there’s not a single state in the U.S. in which even a $15
wage, which sits above the minimum in many states, would afford someone to rent a two-bedroom
apartment. This report illustrates the scale of billionaires’ surging wealth in line with the precarious
conditions of essential workers, many of whom have been denied hazard pay or substantial sick-leave
benefits. There is no ethical way to justify this and there’s not an economic reason either. Jeff Bezos
could give every single one of his 876,000 employees a $105,000 bonus and he’d still be as rich as he
was at the start of the pandemic.
But if billionaires didn’t exist, wouldn’t we all be worse off?
While it appeals to common logic to think the wealth of the richest few eventually trickles down to the
many, the reality is that it doesn’t work this way, not least because America’s richest can entirely and
legally sidestep the system to enjoy virtually tax-free status. It’s true that the billionaire class creates
jobs and that wages have the potential to drive the economy, but that argument falters when workers
barely have enough to survive. The potential to generate tax dollars from billion-dollar profits is
enormous. Oxfam found that if the world’s richest 1% paid just 0.5% more in tax, we could educate all
262 million children who are currently out of school and provide health care to save the lives of 3.3
million. But given generous tax cuts and easily exploitable loopholes like the ability to register wealth in
offshore tax havens, this rarely comes to pass.
So what could keep extreme wealth in check?
Prior to the 2020 election, prominent Democrats were rallying to tax the rich. Elizabeth Warren touted
an annual wealth tax and Senator Sanders planned to hike the top estate tax rate to 77%, while AOC
pitched a 70% top marginal tax rate. Seventy percent may sound drastic, but it’s actually not that
radical. The U.S. had a similar rate in the 1960s for the wealthiest households, during
what economists like Paul Krugman cite as “the most successful period of economic growth in our
history.” Check out this rundown to learn how it would work.
If billionaires do not live off work but live off wealth, why don’t we tax wealth like we tax work? Most
Americans believe the government should do more to address extreme wealth. After all, Joe Biden was
elected on a promise to raise taxes for those earning over $400,000 from 37% to the pre-Trump cut
levels of 39.6%, and limit tax breaks. This barely scratches the surface when it comes to the obscene
wealth of billionaires. While taxing unrealized capital gains at death goes some way to shift the balance,
it falls short of a progressive tax on the unrealized gains that accumulate while the richest in our society
are still alive.
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