An open letter to Paul Graham
Rick Webb
1K62

Some great points — I couldn’t agree more strongly that Paul was setting up a rediculous straw-man which you called out with your point #1/#2.

I think though that you haven’t quite articulated why (I think) people are angry about “income inequality”.

It’s not even the inequality itself, actually. Suppose you make $100 million dollars per year — good for you! Nobody is really that upset about this. Suppose you also choose to pay as little taxes as possible and not support any charities / causes — OK, that’s fully within your right. Your money, your choice. Again I don’t think many people are truly angered by that.

The problem — and it’s a big one — comes when you, as a billionaire, decide to use your outside power/money to actively make things worse (even indirectly) for others.

Advocating for special tax loopholes for yourself? This necessarily adversely impacts others who do not have your level of power. Bad billionaire.

Rigging the market to keep your rentier position indefinitely and making it harder for others to climb the ladder of success? Very bad billionaire.

Advocating cutting all the government services that you just don’t need because you’re rich… Terrible billionaire. (Many rich folks don’t care if the government doesn’t have the money to pay for services like public schools, libraries, museums, research, national parks, the safety net, etc because they never use these services themselves. This “two separate Americas” is the most worrysome part of inequality… we’re not “all in it together” anymore.)

When people hate Rich Assholes it is not because of the “Rich”. It’s the Asshole.