I’m generally amused by “rich people” telling us how obscene it is for the rest of us to be “rich.” Denizens of Planet Hollywood Looney Tunes come to mind. Then we have the ultra-rich; the rich people whose net worth statements begin with a “B” — vs. a measly “M.”
One such billionaire is Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, who not only clocks in somewhere north of $27.5 billion but also believes “there’s nothing fair about accumulating a massive amount of wealth,” as the world’s 35th richest person pontificated earlier this year during an interview with The New York Times.
“”It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined. There’s nothing fair about that.
“We saw that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Mellons and Fords of the world. That kind of accumulation of wealth is dangerous for a society. It shouldn’t be this way.”
What is unfair about family wealth remaining within the family that created it?
What is fair about taking that wealth from that family and arbitrarily redistributing it to random strangers?
Why is retained family wealth dangerous for a society?
Why shouldn’t it be this way, and who should determine that it won’t?
Renowned economists Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams said it best.
“I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”
Wealth redistributors unavailable for comment. pic.twitter.com/kYvZW6OL73
— Dr. Hold My Beer, Bf.D (@RealLibSmacker) December 31, 2020
And Dr. Williams:
“But let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you — and why?”
“But let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you – and why?”
― Walter E. Williams pic.twitter.com/FrREV6YU8f
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) December 3, 2020
So what about Laurene Powell Jobs and her $27.5 billion?
“I inherited my wealth from my husband, who didn’t care about the accumulation of wealth. I am doing this in honor of his work, and I’ve dedicated my life to doing the very best I can to distribute it effectively, in ways that lift up individuals and communities in a sustainable way.”
“I’m not interested in legacy wealth buildings, and my children know that,” declared Jobs. “Steve wasn’t interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me.”
Sounds noble enough. On paper, anyway.
But let me play the devil’s advocate [pun intended] for a minute. How can you possibly have the level of wisdom or depth of knowledge to redistribute your billions “properly,” Ms. Jobs? Isn’t it wrong for you to believe that you can do that job better than the federal government can do it for you? Just a tad bit arrogant, don’t you think? [sarc]
As noted by Business Insider, Jobs, unlike other Silicon Valley billionaires, has not signed the Giving Pledge Commitment to Philanthropy, a “commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back,” which was started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.
I’m not in a position to judge Laurene Powell Jobs, one way or the other — Nor do I feel a need to do so. But it seems to me that a multimillionaire who feels as strongly as she claims to feel about “not taking it with her” nor “leaving it for her children” should step up to the plate and formally put her money where her mouth is — right next to Warren Buffett and Bills Gates.
There’s everything fair about that, isn’t there, Laurene?