Attitudes About Wealth

I tend to take the following policy towards anyone who has a lot of money: Assume they made it honestly and through their own efforts unless there’s evidence to the contrary. This is admittedly more complicated and confusing in a mixed economy. In a mixed economy, there are government subsidies and even ‘invisible’ favors that take place that will lead to wealth accumulation in certain cases, involving certain people, that otherwise would never have occurred. HOW often is this the case? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I find it easier on the psyche and the need for benevolence and optimistic-realism to assume that IF someone made a lot of money, good for them, and assume they made it through the voluntary exchange of value for value as opposed to something that came out of socialism or the political deals of the mixed economy.

There are other factors that could generate disgust in the context of wealth. For example, someone may make millions of dollars selling something on the free market that you find disgusting—a movie you can’t stand, a work of art you can’t stand, or music you detest, or whatever it is. When I see a rich rap singer, I’m disgusted because he made all that money through lack of talent and the bad taste of millions; I’m disgusted for these reasons, not because he has money. In a free society, prostitution would be legal (not that it doesn’t exist in a black market now, like drugs), or drugs would be legal—but if someone achieved economic success with those trades you probably wouldn’t want to spend time admiring them. In these cases, of course, it’s not the accumulation of wealth itself that disgusts you, but the fact that people want to pay money for certain things that bothers you. I don’t hate capitalism because of that rich rap singer. My support and love for totally free-market capitalism isn’t one bit reduced or sullied by the success of that rap singer. My respect for millions of Americans, and their lack of taste, IS sullied, but that’s not because of capitalism—it’s the individuals who pay for it that I blame, not the system.