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Sunday, November 24, 2019

IT'S ALL A MATTER OF PROPORTION

Mike Bloomberg is going to spend $30,000,000 flooding TV with an ad touting his suitability for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.  Bloomberg is worth somewhere north of fifty billion, so 30 million is, if I have this right, 3/5 of 1/10 of 1% of his net worth.  Well, 3/5 of 1/10 of 1% of my net worth [counting my Paris apartment and figuring what my pension would be worth if it were an annuity] is maybe $600, which, taking account of inflation, is a bit more than I spent in 1977 during my unsuccessful run for an empty seat on the Northampton, MA School Committee.

Seems about right.

6 comments:

David Palmeter said...

The only thing I like about Bloomberg is his commitment to gun control legislation. His anti-gun money was a significant contributor to the success of the Democrats in the Virginia House and Senate elections earlier this month. The pro-gun people are planning organized defiance, including "sanctuary counties." The Washington Post has a story this morning.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/in-virginia-and-elsewhere-gun-supporters-prepare-to-defy-new-laws/2019/11/23/4a95fcc2-0c86-11ea-bd9d-c628fd48b3a0_story.html

s. wallerstein said...

Why would someone want 50 billion dollars?

I can understand why someone would want a few million dollars. Healthcare is expensive. You might want to have enough money in the family to pay university tuition through the doctorate level for all your grandchildren, especially if they want to study something "useless": why not give them the chance to study musical composition or art history, etc.?

Otherwise, I don't see the point of so much money.

That said, I don't believe that someone who dedicated his or her life to accumulating billions of dollars should be president, not because they're rich, but because they seem like very limited human beings.

Jerry Brown said...

I guess if the advertisers are also willing to provide the same services to every candidate, in proportion to their wealth, as they will for Bloomberg then it could just be a matter of proportion. But they aren't and they won't. But you know that.

The political power that huge wealth makes possible is 99% of the problem with extreme inequality.

marcel proust said...

The political power that huge wealth makes possible is 99% of the problem with extreme inequality.

I don't think this is right. My working hypothesis is that the possibility of huge wealth is one of the reasons for inequality. The weakening and/or destruction of the institutions that made possible relatively low inequality (unions, high marginal tax rates, social norms, etc.), corporate executives and their ilk glommed onto an ever increasing share of (claims to) output; this resulted in the stagnation of living standards that is the hallmark of our politics and economics. The flip side of stagnant living standards is a stagnant (rather than rising) cost of labor over the last couple of generations, which has greatly reduced the spur to improve labor productivity, reinforcing the stagnation of living standards. This (again, my assertion) has contributed to much of the poisonous politics of our current age and to the deaths of despair that Case and Deaton highlighted.*

The outsize political power is both offensive and problematic, but is nowhere near 99% of the problem.


*Working hypothesis, because I don't know how to demonstrate it. However, one of the hats I wear is that of a neo-classical economist and as such, I have a firm belief in the power of incentives. The institutions alluded to strongly discouraged behavior that led to the extreme and growing inequality we now endure. They provided disincentives to huge accumulations of wealth though not, so far as anyone has been able to demonstrate, to entrepreneurship or innovation or any of the other things typically beloved of neo-classical economics.

Jerry Brown said...

Yes. I was unhappy with my claim of 99% as soon as I posted the comment. I think it is a large part of the problem and should have left it at that.

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