December 20, 2013
Fareed Zakaria misses the story big-time when he tells readers that the super rich have gotten richer in the United States because, “globalization and technology help superstars.” This is not inherently true, it is only true when the government rigs the deck to accomplish this result.
For example, globalization could be used to promote competition in the CEO market so that U.S. corporations take advantage of the much lower paid CEOs in Europe and Asia to save tens of millions of dollars a year in wasted CEO pay. However because the corporate governance structure in the United States essentially allows CEOs to pick the corporate boards that decide their fate, corporations do not take advantage of this opportunity provided by globalization.
As another example, many huge fortunes earned in drugs and the high tech sector depend on strong government patent monopolies. It would be easy to devise systems that produced as much or more technological progress that did not redistribute so much income upward to those at the top. Many of the huge fortunes in the financial sector are attributable to the under-taxation of this sector and the large number of regulatory and tax loopholes that the government leaves in place to allow for fortunes to be made by the very rich.
It is very convenient for the wealthy to have the public believe that their riches came about through forces like globalization, as opposed to government rigging. It leads to views like those expressed by Zakaria:
“We don’t have all the answers, but if you’re looking for the policy that would likely have the biggest effect on increasing social mobility and reducing inequality, let’s shift the attention from the rich and the middle class and focus on the forgotten poor.”
This is known as “Loser Liberalism.”
Note: linked added.