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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15790/do-the-rich-oppress-the-poor/

Do the Rich Oppress the Poor?

February 23, 2011 by

The entrepreneurs and capitalists owe their wealth to the people who patronize their businesses. FULL ARTICLE by Ludwig von Mises


Jeremy February 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

“The wealth of an aristocrat is not a market phenomenon …
The entrepreneurs and capitalists owe their wealth to the people who patronize their businesses. ”

It’s funny how most articles on this site spend so much time complaining about how all the government intervention we have *prevents* us from having a free-market economy. But oh, then the moment you have to defend those poor defenseless rich people, suddenly they’ve “earned” their money in a magical free-market environment. It’s like the prison-industrial complex, the military-industrial complex, and all those billions of dollars that go in to lobbying every year just don’t exist.

Bullshit. The majority of the rich in our society (well, depending on how you define “rich”) either inherited their wealth or made it at the cost of society. Entrepreneurs are awesome, and even awesomer in a true free market economy … but in our current non-free market economy, they’re not “the rich”.

Martin Fletcher May 1, 2011 at 3:51 am

Dead on right.

Prime February 23, 2011 at 11:56 am

“at the cost of society.”

What is this?

Jeremy February 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

One classic example would be an environmentally damaging mining operation. The owner of the land and the operator of the mine make tons of money. The people that live nearby get cancer (from the chemicals the mine releases in to the local drinking water) and die. In a “free market” sense, the landowner/mine operator “earned” their wealth, but in reality they stole it because they didn’t pay the true cost of their operation (the nearby people paid it for them).

Another example would be a defense contractor who builds weapons no one really needs, but because they get government money they can keep doing it. Another example would be the same thing, but replace “weapons” with “prisons”. Or replace it with … well you could do probably do a pretty decent mad lib here, but I’ll spare you ;-)

Jeremy February 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm

P.S. I imagine someone is going to point out that all the *-Industrial Complex (Prison-Industrial, Military-Industrial, etc.) stuff is a problem caused by government. That’s 100% right: it’s caused by government … and the rich people who run it. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, and to pretend that half the equation (the “-Industrial” half) isn’t responsible, and that all rich people are entrepreneurs, is to bury your head in the sand and ignore the facts.

mr taco February 24, 2011 at 4:19 am

“from the chemicals the mine releases in to the local drinking water”

how would this happen if there was a private water supplier ?

Jeremy February 24, 2011 at 11:28 am

Ok, replace water pollution with air pollution, same issue. Unless you plan to somehow assign property rights to free-floating particles?

Plus you never addressed the “industrial” side of the military-industrial complex, prison-industrial complex, etc. A huge amount of wealth has been “created” by these parasitic arrangements, and I still maintain that it is absolute ignorance to pretend that all those people legitimately created their wealthy through innovation or financing of innovation.

Brett in Manhattan February 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm

You seem to resent the owner of the mine making tons of money, but, the reason that money is made is because the coal is used to generate electricity which benefits the masses, except you, of course, as I’m sure you’re sitting in a candlelit room with a computer powered by a bicycle generator.

Jeremy February 24, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Did you miss the parts about “environmentally damaging” and “people that live nearby get cancer … and die”? I have nothing against power production, just *irresponsible* power production.

pbergn March 14, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I agree with Jeremy in general.

The entrepreneurs are just like the smart kid making first to the goody bag…

It’s the ultimate stampede to the top of the food-chain… Like with everything else – it can be good, such as when you make it first to the meaty bone, or, it can be bad, such as when you are the last one arrive at the free lunch party…

I still believe that the Market is a zero-sum game – one man’s gain is another man’s missed opportunity, but this is necessary for the progress in general…

And yes, the modern-day feudals are now tenderly called “bankers”…

billwald February 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm

” Entrepreneurs are awesome, and even awesomer in a true free market economy … but in our current non-free market economy, they’re not “the rich”.”

Yes, but neither would they be “the rich” in a 100% free market economy. An economy sans controls is like a Monopoly game with two sets of rules. The rich pass ‘go’ and collect $500. The workers pass ‘go’ and pay $500. Why else does the stock market increase while wages are dropping?

Matthew Swaringen February 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Your statement is complete nonsense.

billwald April 14, 2011 at 11:20 am

Then why do assets keep moving from the working class up the food chain and stop with the the top 1% who control half the assets of the world?

Does anyone out there think a person with a billion in assets continues to “work” because he wants to buy more toys? Or are his toys the people in the bottom half?

Anthony February 23, 2011 at 10:54 pm

“Why else does the stock market increase while wages are dropping?”

Because the government manipulates interest rates and prints money, of course. Or are you new here? (I ask knowing perfectly well that you are not new, merely willfully ignorant)

Jake_nonphixion February 25, 2011 at 10:51 pm

The stock market increases because we exchange with an inflationary fiat currency that does not act as a store of value, so it forces people into being speculators to preserve their wealth. This means that only those with the ability to earn more than a subsistence income can keep themselves from being constantly robbed.

Inflation is a tax aimed straight at the poor.

billwald April 14, 2011 at 11:09 am

A reasonably controlled inflation of a few percent helps the poor because they can pay off mortgages with cheaper dollars. It hurts the people who lend the money because they can buy less stuff with the interest they collect.

Freedom Fighter February 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

NO !

It’s the government that oppresses the poor, not the rich. In fact, without the government, there would be more rich people, money would be more “equally” shared because nobody could be rich out of rent seeking, patents and copyrights nor mountains of regulations and taxes smothering wannabe competition. They would have to actually provide value in exchange of money, something that software and record companies don’t understand.

Freedom Fighter February 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Prizes society has to offer ? Prizes ?

While we all compete for those prizes, time acts upon us and we all eventually DIE, giving back our souls to the universe. In that sense, the rich is as poor as the poorest of all, because nobody owns his own soul.

As a libertarian, what good does it give me to own my own house if I don’t own my own soul. I will just not put up with all the abuse and punishment necessary to pursue vane prizes which I will not take with me in my grave.

The prize I want is my own soul. I want to be my own source of existence.

Speaking of equipment that nature endowed us with. There’s some very good chances that I am endowed with the oneiric equipment. Using this will break all the rules in my favor.

Lee February 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm

There’s really a simple answer to this: who has the requisite money to buy the politicians and why do they want them?

Freedom Fighter February 24, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Large corporations, because politicians represent the necessary force to distort the market in favor of the patronizing corporation.

pbergn March 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm

What makes you think that this is NOT a direct consequence of Free Market as well?! In other words, why do you believe that the most successful market players will always stay honest, or choose to compete fairly, as opposed to taking short-cust by investing their accumulated capital in various corruption and fraud schemes, such as sabotaging their competition, rather than beating them honestly by providing better products and services?! And what or who would keep the most successful few from colluding and hatching various price-fixing schemes?

Given the interconnectedness of the physical world and limited natural resources, it is easy to see that the few who make their way to the top first by acquiring the strategic resources, will have the unfair and insurmountable advantage in competing against all others, leading to the asymptotic explosion in accumulated wealth and resources…

Wendell Fitzgerald February 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Thank you for correct analysis of those who actually produce a good and/or a service, something that did not exist before except for the efforts of these productive people and their real capital investments. These people and their products are patronized by their customers who prefer them over other producers and they are and should be appreciated by those they serve. The main characteristic of these courageous and productive people is that they actually EARN their living and their profits and their wealth. But, and it is a big but, there are those who do not EARN their great wealth and it is they who hide behind the indisputable righteousness of those who do to protect them from the criticism that is so thoroughly valid of them. My colleagues estimate that the amount of unearned income/wealth virtually everywhere is at least 20% to 33% of GNP/GDP however you measure it. I suspect it is closer to 40%. The fact that the world works so well despite this incredible parasitic gobbling of the benefits of progress is a testament to just how much wealth there is in the world from the workings of real free market/free enterprise activity despite the fact that is is everywhere hobbled. Singapore might be the one brilliant exception. I suggest that feudalism is alive and well, has never for a moment failed to enrich those who do not earn or deserve it in exactly the same way as is depicted in the picture of churchman and nobleman riding on the back of a peasant.

I leave you to figure out what that mechanism is. It has nothing to do with people who actually produce goods/services/real values in the real economy.

To my knowledge von Mises does not make the distinction between earned and unearned incomes/wealth. As a result his analysis does not and cannot accurately describe or predict the kind of things such as the economic downturn that we are suffering from. Pretty good otherwise. If I am mistaken in this please set me straight.

dumbass June 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm

I don’t know anything about markets bla bla bla. All I know is I go to the food market for groceries with the 275.00 I earn every week from being a file clerk, answering calls and getting my boss coffee every morning hee hee. My boss drives 11 different cars and I drive a 1984 accord hee hee. My boss tells me I am an idiot and will never amount to anything but that one day he will let me go to his mansion and clean his gold colored french bidets so I can get a taste of the rich life hee hee

Anthony June 7, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Sounds like your boss is a jerk… lets kill all the rich people. hee hee

Xclamatorious August 10, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I came from India at age 19, got a job at a grocery store, went to college with financial assistance and focused while enduring tears, fears, sweat, and turmoil, studied software programming which cost 75k, graduated, went to work for a big corporation, made much higher salary, designed my own program, patented it, licensed it to several companies, giant software programming and manufacturing company offered me 10 million dollars to buy my program, sold it, purchased real estate, wrote more software programs, sold those also, profited greatly in that and real estate, 30 years later I am worth 150 million dollars…I do not associate with low class people in society because they only want handouts, they are lazy, they are in an entertaimment induced stupor and only watch movies and television and go partying and clubbing. They have some money which they work for but they do not make major sacrifices to learn how to make money work for them. They are happy making 300 to 500 a week and have no real focus. What is worse is they were born here in the united states and chose to remain stagnant. Am I a terrible person for being wealthy and associating only with people who will bring out the best in me?

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