Ep. 187 It’s OK for Bernie to Be Rich Because He’s Not Evil

5 May 2019     |     Tom Woods     |     14

Krugman addresses the claim that Bernie Sanders, who until recently had been railing against “millionaires and billionaires,” is a hypocrite since he’s now a millionaire himself. Krugman proceeds to explain that among the super rich, most are right-wing and evil.

Krugman Column

Bernie Sanders and the Myth of the 1 Percent (April 18, 2019)

Related Links

Are CEOs Paid Too Much?” by Robert P. Murphy

Bernie Sanders is a millionaire,” by Jessica M. Goldstein

“Socialist Bernie Sanders Is Part of the Top 1 Percent, Tax Returns Confirm,” by Bowen Xiao

Book Mentioned

Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero by Tyler Cowen

Big business has become a villain not just to the progressive left but also to the populist right and even to many libertarians, who think they see cronyism everywhere. Lost amid this climate of condemnation is a sober assessment of the true record of big business in improving our lives. Tyler Cowen gives us precisely that assessment: he is frank about the moral faults of big business, but he overwhelms us with arguments in its favor that most people have never heard.

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  • Mark Pugnar

    The best response to Bernie is the guy that made those catchy song:

  • Roger Barris

    Good discussion. Here are some points that (IMHO) could have made it better:

    1. I think it is worthwhile pointing out that the only reason Bernie Sanders sold millions of copies of his book is because of the fame that he earned from his self-sacrificing *public service* (heavy irony here). Just like the only way the Clintons became multimillionaires, and now the Obamas, is via the same route (and Tony Blair in the UK). They have all monetized their political careers, which, contrary to their belief, makes the money they have made less – not more – legitimate than other millionaires/billionaires.

    2. Krugman thinks that there is a big difference between the ultra-wealthy and the merely very wealthy. Yes, there is and it is this: Jeff Bezos will never be able to spend even a tiny fraction of his wealthy. It’s impossible – try it. Which means that, inevitably, a large percentage of this will be given away, as we see with Gates, Blooomberg, Zuckerman, etc.

    3. There is a common misunderstanding about “golden parachutes.” There are some of these, but in most cases what is reported by the press as a golden parachute is in fact deferred income (usually in the form of stock) which the CEO earned in earlier periods and which has to be paid if he/she is fired. The press is not smart enough to distinguish between these two. Unless a company has “claw back” provisions – which are difficult to document but are still starting to be implemented – there is no legal way to take this money back (absent flagrant behavior such as a crime). The press makes a lot of these golden parachutes look like favors granted by friendly boards of directors. Believe me, no company would pay more to a failed CEO than it is legally bound to pay.

    4. You spend some time offering theories on why the rich support liberal policies as a way to keep down potential competitors and solidify their position. Possible, but I doubt it. The simplest explanation here is probably the most accurate: billionaires are subject to the same societal and intellectual pressures as anyone else; just because they are original thinkers in their business doesn’t mean that they are original thinkers in their politics. They advocate these policies because they believe them and because they know that this will win them praise from “the right people” and get them invited to “the right cocktail parties” (and these things are, BTW, perhaps the ultimate luxury goods with very high income-elasticities of demand, particularly when all other consumption needs have long since been met). Ayn Rand was dead right in her description of this motivation.


    • http://www.TomWoods.com Tom Woods

      Thanks for these points, which are great.

      • Roger Barris

        Keep up the great work, Tom and Bob. And let the best man win!

        • http://www.TomWoods.com Tom Woods

          Let’s hope not!

          • Roger Barris

            Pacifism? You could sleep walk through this one.

          • http://www.TomWoods.com Tom Woods

            The way Bob lays out the background of his argument on his podcast shows that it’s not as simple as you might think. My point was simply that if the best man wins, that won’t be good for me 😉

          • Roger Barris

            Hah. You can’t fool me. I think this is just the usual pre-fight press conference ritual pumping for a bigger audience. 🙂

  • http://ludwigvanel.wordpress.com Ludwig van El

    It’s over a century since the Russian revolution(s) and still Bernie is a socialist. How could anyone call that not evil? How could anyone ever trust those people (Bernie + the ones who call him not evil)?

  • Knight of Skeleton

    No one believes one’s self evil. Everything and everyone has justification to one’s self. The truth of the matter is yes, he is a hypocrite as he blankets all of the top 1% as evil and in need of being taxed, then himself is in the top 1% and has not been donating the money he advocates everyone else be forced to pay. He assumes all is ill gotten except himself. There is also the accusation that when he started supporting Hillary Clinton’s and abandoned all his beliefs in doing so he mysteriously gained two new homes. I would not suggest taking that as fact but it is something worth questioning him on. Another is his complete failure of economics. The man called Soviet breadlines a good thing and the only complaint hesh had with the Soviet Union being it was authoritarian, ignoring that socialism is by nature authoritarian due to its central planning being a core part of the idea and in the same breath complimenting it as an effective system with “great youth programs.” The youth programs of the Soviet Union could easily be compared to the Hitler Youth. Bernie may not be evil but his ideas are.

    • http://www.twitter.com/menorman Marven Norman

      We have bread lines here in America under capitalism so if their existence is proof of the “failure” of socialism, then it stands to reason that they are indicative of the same thing in capitalism: Failure.

      • Tyler Folger

        The term “breadline” doesn’t refer to having to play games on your phone while you wait for the 3 guys in front of you at Panera by the way.

      • Knight of Skeleton

        You have charities and food resources for the poor in capitalism, an excess of food, you have resources to give away overflowing your shelves and constantly stocked. We’ve seen extreme poverty reduced massively over the past few decades thanks to capitalism.
        In socialism you have all of the food being taken from the Ukraine so that it can be centrally planned from Moscow like everything in the Soviet ideology and then distributed while millions starve to death under threat of being shot should they take a single grain from the pile with the farmers who were the best at tending the land already lain in shallow graves because they didn’t want to lose their land. You have a limited supply of milk and grain provided over a short period of time by the state under first come first serve doctrine and if you take a little more than you are supposed to you will be shot, if you try to take what you need but was not planned for you will be shot. In order to meet the demands and avoid being shot or sent to gulags the car manufacturers would steal the tires off of cars to make into new tires because if they didn’t meet the stated requirements guess what happens, shot. Resources cannot get to where they are needed, the industries collapse as their competent are killed for not wanting to give up the fruits of their labor or are reassigned because under socialism there is no such thing as a specialist.
        How many part-time farmers is it going to take to cure cancer? There’s a damn good reason we specialize.

        There is not a single prediction Marx made that came true.