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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
15 Oct 2014
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Blessed Are the Rich

Comment

One thing I've come to value in the last couple of years is the altruism and keen economic insights of the fourth-richest man in America: Charles Koch.

Even though Koch was raised rich and has now amassed a personal fortune of about $34 billion, he recently gave us a deeper sense of his true worth, measured not in dollars, but in values.

"We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country," he declared. Excellent thought — FDR couldn't have put it better! Noting that a big problem for the poor is that the Powers That Be "keep throwing obstacles in their way," Koch cut to the chase, saying, "We've got to clear those out."

Yes, Charlie, I'm with you! Clear out such barriers as the offshoring of middle class jobs, union busting, poorly funded schools and the lack of affordable health care, housing and child care.

But, alas, that's not at all what Koch had in mind as obstacles to be cleared out. Rather, he proposes to "help" poor people by eliminating — ready? — "the minimum wage." Why? Because, explains this clueless son-of-the-rich, having a wage floor "reduces the mobility of labor."

In case you don't dwell in the plutocratic, narcissistic, Ayn Randian fantasyland where the Kochs hang out, "labor mobility" is right-wing psychobabble for social Darwinism. Remove all remnants of America's economic safety net, they coldly theorize (while wallowing in their nests of luxury), and the poor will be "freed" to become billionaires.

As Charles puts it, if the disadvantaged had no protections in the workplace and no government programs to ameliorate their poverty, they would then have to scramble just to live, thus freeing them from reliance on society's helping hand. Freeing them to do what? Well, Koch says, they could then "start a business ... drive a taxicab ... become a hairdresser."

What a visionary he is! Where you and I might see people trapped in debilitating poverty, Charles sees a Brave New World of billionaire hairdressers!

But he's not the only 1-percenter having utopian visions for hard-hit Americans.

For example, I can't begin to tell you how grateful America's homeless people are going to be once they hear about Andy Kessler, who has been thinking long and hard about their plight, selflessly seeking ways to eradicate intractable poverty.

Kessler is a former hedge-fund whiz, which means he was in the business of making ... well, money. Beaucoup bundles of it. But having seen his 16-year-old son volunteer at a homeless center, he was motivated to develop a plan to solve homelessness — and here it is: Stop dishing out soup to those people, and shut down all those damn shelters!

The homeless problem, he recently wrote in an op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal, stems from "all this volunteering and charitable giving" by do-gooders like his son. Homeless folks ought to be working, he lectured, but they're not, "because someone is feeding, clothing and, in effect, bathing them."

Golly, Andy, I recall that Jesus said something about our Godly duty to feed and clothe the needy — and even to wash the feet of the poor.

But apparently, Jesus just didn't grasp the essence of true morality. "Blessed are the rich!" is Kessler's spiritual mantra. "Where does money come from ... to help the unfortunate?" he asked. And yea, I say unto thee, the Holy Hedge-Funder answered his own deep question: It comes from "someone (who) worked productively and created wealth."

Thus, he sagely concluded, the answer to poverty, to truly helping the poor, is not to pamper the takers, but to provide more tax breaks for the makers of wealth (like him) — the ones who produce "good old-fashioned economic growth."

Wow, what a role model this guy is for America's youth — including that misguided boy of his! Wouldn't you like to buy Andy and Charles for what they're worth ... and sell them for what they think they're worth? That would fund a whole lot of homeless programs.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
This article highlights the divide between those who favor free markets and those who favor government control of markets. I come down on the side of free markets. Mr. Hightower provides the standard retort of those who favor government control of markets when he criticizes the suggestion of eliminating minimum wage laws. His mistake is in believing that minimum wage laws have helped low-skilled workers. All of the empirical evidence says otherwise. Minimum wage laws were created in the early 1930's to prevent blacks from competing for government construction contracts and were so successful that South Africa used the same laws during Apartheid to limit job opportunities for blacks there. As for driving a taxi good luck if you're poor and live in a major city. It's likely that government regulations make getting a permit a rather expensive proposition. In New York for example it costs well over half a million dollars to get a medallion to operate a taxi. This of course is presented to the public as a means of ensuring public safety when in reality it exists to limit competition. Based on this article I would assume Mr. Hightower would be supportive of such laws.

As for the homeless private charity is a noble endeavor as it represents the voluntary exchange of money, labor and other resources aimed at a specific goal. It's the idea of government programs that require the involuntary exchange of my money to programs that have no accountability and that for decades haven't worked and likely will never work that I take issue with.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Greg M
Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:59 AM
The most useful thing Koch could do for us is explain how one develops the talent to be born rich. It seems he can't model the behavior he thinks we poor folks need to exhibit, until he does that.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Masako
Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:41 PM
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