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How Rich Is Too Rich?

 

For one answer consider what happened when the old USSR broke up. All wealth was in the hands of one “authority” who most people thought could be trusted to do things intelligently and fairly. Everything was privatized. All the workers got equal shares in the enterprises they worked in. (Yes I know this is an over-simplification!) Sounds fair, doesn’t it? The next thing that happened was the poor working folk didn’t know or understand what it was to own shares in factories, farms, mines, etc. Over the following years, most of them sold out for a song to a small group of future oligarchs. These capitalists accumulated majority ownership and are now the 1% in Russia who control 90% of the wealth— similar to the rest of the world.

But the net result is/was that the standards of living for the vast majority in Russia are infinitely better than they were when the state owned everything. Back in the good old Communist Era there were not 100 people in the entire country who could own luxury cars and very very few who could own locally produced Lada rust buckets. Now there are hundreds of thousands of BMWs, Mercs, etc. and almost every working person has or can have a decent car. That of course is just one measure of wealth. When I lived in the old USSR, grocery stores often had only one type of sausage and one type of cheese. And sometimes none. Now there is an abundance of hundreds of competing products — no such things as empty shelves or long lines just to get one piece of fruit or meat.

So I suppose the answer is that it really doesn’t matter much if wealth is concentrated in a few hands or many; trustworthy or otherwise; it doesn’t matter much if wealth is re-distributed because it will end up in a few hands anyway. That seems to be the natural order of things. When this natural order is disturbed by corrupt or left leaning dictators as it is in Zimbabwe or Venezuela, the rich re-locate and the poor get even poorer.

- W. G. Hill


 
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