The 1% and Good Rich vs Bad Rich
Jag Bhalla is an entrepreneur, inventor and writer. His current project is Errors We Live By, a series of short exoteric essays exposing errors in the big ideas running our lives, details at www.errorsweliveby.com. His last book was I'm Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears, a surreptitious science gift book from National Geographic Books, details at www.hangingnoodles.com. That explains his twitter handle @hangingnoodles.
Much talk about “the 1%” ignores three key issues. First, not all inequality is equally bad. Second, the rich are mostly as replaceable as you and me. Third, if the rich succeed because they’re strong, surely they’re strong enough not to need special treatment.
Let me be clear: I am not remotely against the rich; it would be great if many more people were rich. But to simplify for the sake of a useful argument, we need to distinguish two kinds of rich: the good in-it-together rich and the bad in-it-only-for-themselves rich. The good rich are strong enough to shoulder their share of the costs of running the country and responsible enough to succeed without harming their communities. The bad rich, however, exploit every situation ruthlessly, regardless of the costs to others, and try to avoid paying for the infrastructure their success is built on. The more good rich we have, the better we all do. The more bad rich we have, the greater our economic insecurity becomes. A profit unsharing economy in which gains go to very few isn’t inevitable.
Taxes are a key test. The good rich are like Warren Buffett who can’t see why he should be taxed at a lower overall rate than his secretary. Meanwhile, the bad rich lobby for legal loopholes to lower their taxes. Here’s The Wall Street Journal quoting an expert on supposed justifications for "carried interest" treatment that applies to private equity titans only:
“If we're only allowed to keep $6.5 million of every $10 million fee—rather than the $8.5 million we now get—we'll just retreat to the golf course… and millions of Americans will lose their jobs because we won't… turn around their companies.”
If that's the worst they can threaten to extort special treatment, we needn't worry. Those bad rich are replaceable. We should have greater faith in the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans than they do. And we should welcome these lazier rich choosing to work less because they can’t stomach paying taxes at the same rates the rest of us do on our so-called ordinary income. Other hungrier, harder-working, smarter, soon-to-be-rich folks will step up to turn those companies around, even if they “only” make $6.5 million. These are precisely the good rich we need more of. Their success strengthens the nation, while success that depends on special tax treatment weakens us.
Those who insist that increases in top income-tax rates impede economic growth are flatly contradicted by the evidence. Growth has been higher in times when top tax rates were higher. Are today's rich different than those who built prior booming economies? Are they weaker? Less driven? Less passionate about creating great business? Or just greedier?
Let me end by repeating: We need more good rich, and as many as we can get. It’s time to use things like tax rules to encourage the bad rich to get themselves replaced by the better-for-us-all good rich.
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker Cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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