Thursday, August 14, 2014

Beyond the Dreams of Avarice --- Nick Hanauer

Avarice is one of the Seven Deadly Sins --- It's an insatiable greed for riches; an inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth.

In a 20 minute speech, the internet billionaire Nick Hanauer explains that his life is like most plutocrats. And he also says he has been obscenely rewarded for his efforts (video and highlights below).

Nick Hanauer describes some of the luxuries he enjoys that most of us can't even imagine (multiple homes, a yacht, a private plane, etc.) Then he says, "But let's be honest. I'm not the smartest person you've ever met. I'm certainly not the hardest working. I was a mediocre student. Truly, my success is the consequence of spectacular luck --- of birth, of circumstance, and of timing."

He says that even though in spite of his good luck, he does have a good sense and intuition about what will happen in the future: "So what do I see in our future today, you ask? I see pitchforks, as in, angry mobs with pitchforks. While people like us plutocrats are living beyond the dreams of avarice, the other 99% of our fellow citizens are falling farther and farther behind."

He goes on to explain the exponentially rising and historically high inequality in our country, and he says it's getting worse every day. "If wealth, power and income continue to concentrate at the very tippy top" he says, then our country will become like a society in 18th century France --- "before the revolution and the mobs with the pitchforks."

"So I have a message for my fellow plutocrats and zillionaires, and for anyone who lives in a gated bubble world: Wake up! It cannot last. Because if we do not do something to fix the glaring economic inequities in our society, the pitchforks will come for us."

Then he adds: "I know I'm going to sound like some liberal do-gooder, but I'm not. I am not making a moral argument that economic inequality is wrong. What I'm arguing is, that rising inequality is stupid and ultimately self-defeating."

He noted the example of Henry Ford, paying his employees enough to buy his cars, and explains his economic philosophy of the "feed back loops" in an economic system that you'd find in a natural ecosystem. "Raising wages increases demand, which increases hiring, which in turn increases wages, and demand, and profits. And that virtuous cycle of increasing prosperity is precisely what is missing from today's economic recovery."

He says this is why we need to abandon "trickle down" policies and embrace what he calls "middle out" economics; and then he goes on to explain his many ideas, thoughts and solutions for 21st century capitalism (that he calls "new capitalism").

"So can we please dispense with this rhetoric that says rich guys like me and my plutocrat friends made our country. We plutocrats know, even if we don't like to admit it in public, that if we had been born somewhere else, not here in the United States, we might very well be just some dude standing bare foot by the side of a dirt road selling fruit."

He says that by all means, let's shrink the size of government. But not by cutting programs for the poor, but by paying people a living wage so that they won't need those programs.

He puts down the myths that the incredibility wealthy are indispensable, and that the 99% are not --- that the rich matter, and the rest don't --- that the rich need tax cuts to create growth, but investments in the people will bankrupt the county.

"For thousands of years these stories were called divine right. Today we have trickle down economics. We plutocrats need to see that the United States of America made us, not the other way around. Alternatively, we can do nothing. Hide in our gated communities and private schools, enjoy our planes and yachts --- they're fun --- and wait for the pitchforks."

Another Nick Hanauer Speech at TED University (Video & Text) 

Nick Hanauer on MSNBC with Chris Hayes (YouTube) 

Nick Hanauer on Fox News with Neil Cavuto (YouTube)

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