One has to have walked in the shoes of a poor person, or even of a worker who is able to keep his/her head (and family’s heads) above water for many years, before ridiculing them as Paul Graham does.
Wealth, which is at heart a measure of human ability to get things done, is mainly created and maintained by those who work, whether that be physical work (including, firstly, physical labor of various sorts in the fields, mines, factories, offices, schools, hospitals and homes, but also actively caring, as parents, nurses, nurses’ aides and hopefully doctors and teachers do) or mental work (including educating, planning, solving, creating, inventing, discovering and understanding).
If workers were to vanish or withhold their work, where would all the so-called “wealth creators” — including the venture-capitalists, be? On the other hand, if those v-c’s and others were to vanish or hoard their wealth, however acquired, workers might be thrown into difficulties temporarily, from closings of workplaces, etc. but life would go on — and perhaps we would be far better off ultimately.
The v-c’s and other affluent folk might have their legitimate roles in “wealth creation” , but it is a modest one. So it is time they were reminded of this and told not to look down on the ones who enable them to accrue wealth, by creating it through their physical and mental labor — including the emotional labor, if you will, of caring and worrying and fussing over details, spending enormous amounts of time, often for little or no compensation.
The basic wealth we humans started with was food, which ultimately is created for us by plants. So traditionally wealth came from the land.
Even in our current system, in this country, of mechanized farming of grains, mostly done by machines running on fossil fuels, much of this being pumped in distant oil wells in foreign countries, one should remember that if this food supply that is drawn from the vast interior hinterland and supplied to the supermarkets and stores of the cities were to vanish or shrivel, we would all be up we-know-what’s creek, along with Herr Graham and his uebermenschen.
Of course, in our times we also have much productive activity going on in the cities, much of it mental or organizational work. But again, the ones who do this are workers, although the robots (whose name derives from the Slavic root word for “work” or “worker”) are replacing humans even there.
We also have the basic utilities that issue forth from the taps, gas jets and electrical outlets in our homes, offices and factories. I don’t think Google, Oracle or Microsoft could do without these things. Much of the energy in and for this supply comes from fossil fuels, which might be replaced by other sources in the future.
Fossil fuels are mainly, as far as we know, the stored labor of countless plants and other photosynthetic organisms over millions of years. We are expending all this labor, if you will, over a few centuries at most, and this plunder is also fueling the egos of the parasite class to which Herr Graham belongs and which he, in his hubris, exalts.
The root causes of poverty and misery in the world lie not in the lifestyles of humans still living in sustainable ways the world over, in their traditional villages, but in the utter madness that draws capital out of those villages into the cities and then to the great financial centers of the world, with labor following capital as always.
Attendant to this are alienation, horrible, overcrowded slums, cheap serf-labor, pollution and ethnic conflict. There are also the great power games, dueling for natural and human resources and markets, which are played out all over the globe, benefiting mainly a new global ueber-class and its attendants, while plunging the planet itself into what appears to be a man-made mass extinction of biological species, even as our own cultural diversity is also extinguished.