The Rich Aren’t Rich Because They Work Harder. They Work Harder Because They’re Rich!

By Anthony W. Orlando, Lecturer in the College of Business and Economics at California State University, Los Angeles. Originally published at the Huffington Post.

You lazy bum. Yea, I’m talking to you. Are you a member of the 99 percent? Do you earn less than $393,941 a year? Yep. You’re lazy.

That’s what Sam Zell says, at least.

“The one percent work harder” than you, said the billionaire real estate investor in a recent interview. That’s why they’re so much richer than you.

Zell isn’t alone. More than a third of all Americans — and more than half of all Republicans — believe that the rich are rich because they worked harder than everyone else. When pressed for proof, they usually point to surveys showing that the rich spend more hours working and fewer hours in “leisure activities” than everyone else.

It’s a revealing statistic — but not for the reasons that Zell seems to think.

First of all, the rich work more because they can. They have the option to work more hours. Most middle-class and poor Americans have very little control over their work schedules — and that’s assuming they can even find a job in the first place. Thirteen percent of workers can’t find a full-time job — and virtually none of those workers are in the one percent.

But instead of seeing this crisis for what it is, the one percent prefer to pat themselves on the back for their privileged job security. In his bubble of immunity, Zell cannot see how hurtful his remarks are to the millions of Americans who want to work more but can’t.

Second, it is shockingly obtuse to suggest that an hour spent in a comfortable office doing a job you love is even remotely comparable to an hour spent in a sweltering kitchen flipping burgers. Low-wage jobs are so physically demanding that they drive workers into an early grave. Work too hard in a warehouse or a factory, and you can find yourself crippled for life.

By comparison, Zell’s definition of “hard work” is laughably — or is it tragically? — luxurious. The rich are more than twice as likely as the poor to report that they are completely satisfied with their job, that they are very happy with life overall, and that they rarely or never experience stress. With a job like that, who wouldn’t want to work harder?

Not only are their jobs more enjoyable and less exploitative; they are also more rewarding — and it’s not a linear relationship. The economists Peter Kuhn and Fernando Lozano have found that investing your time in extra work generates a far higher return if you’re a high-wage worker. When the middle class and the poor work more hours, they may earn an overtime wage, but when the rich do it, they get promotions, bonuses and better job offers that far exceed their current overtime rate.

That should be obvious to anyone looking at our country’s income distribution. The richest 0.01 percent of Americans — the one percent of the one percent — earn an average income 578 times higher than everyone else. Even if Zell thinks they work harder, does he really think that they work 578 times harder? Does anyone honestly believe that one member of the super-rich works as hard as 578 of the rest of us combined?

Clearly, hard work alone cannot justify their outsized earnings.

It wasn’t always this way. A few decades ago, the income gap wasn’t nearly as wide. Over the years, the income of the one percent has been growing a lot faster than everyone else’s.

If you ask Sam Zell why this is happening, he’d probably say the rich are working more and everyone else is working less. But he’d be wrong. In fact, the exact opposite is happening: The poor and the middle class have taken on a lot more working hours than the rich, even as their income has grown less.

So, not only does Zell’s theory fail to explain the rise of the one percent, it actually gives a reason to oppose it. If more work is a justification for more income, as Zell suggests, then the one percent should be experiencing less income growth than everyone else.

Instead, the 99 percent are finding that they’re doing more of the work and receiving less of the income with each passing year.

Zell, in contrast, has always been rewarded for his hard work. The future real estate tycoon grew up watching his father invest in real estate in Chicago. Meanwhile, he had the good fortune to attend one of the top-performing high schools in the country. From there, he went to the University of Michigan, where he got his bachelor’s, followed by his law degree, at one of the most elite law schools in the world.

Sam Zell may have worked hard to become rich, but at every step along the way, someone was teaching him how to work hard — and rewarding him for that hard work.

Most Americans don’t have access to those opportunities — and they’re becoming scarcer as the one percent pulls away from the pack. The path to financial stability is harder to navigate than it has been in almost a century. And yet, the 99 percent forge ahead, toiling unseen, unacknowledged, unappreciated by the fortunate few who reap the profits and call themselves the deserving recipients of our great national wealth.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. brazza

    I’m with Uruguay President Pepe Mujica.

    Pepe Mujica, President of Uruguay, on the note that published the newspaper “ABC” of Spain titled: “Mujica, the poorest President”.

    Mujica: “I am not poor” “I’m not poor, poor are those who believe that I am poor. “I have a few things, it is true, the minimum, but only in order to be rich”.

    “I want to have time to devote to the things that motivate me. And if I had many things I would have to take care of them and couldn’t do what I really like. This is true freedom, austerity, consuming little. A small house, to dedicate time to what you truly enjoy.

    If not, I would have to be an employee to my “stuff”, and act as a guard inside the house. And if I had many things I would have to devote time to care for them. No, three rooms are enough. My old lady and I can easily sweep them. Then we have time for what really excites us. We are not poor”.

  2. Hayek's Heelbiter

    It seems to me one obvious factor in the analysis that’s missing is the definition of “work.”
    Let’s see, if you subtract the hours the nannies, the cooks, the cleaners (and the pool boys, gardeners, personal trainers, personal shoppers, etc.) from the hours that the 1% spend at their job, I bet you’d end up with negative double digits in the hours they “work”.
    Alas, the 99% cannot afford any of the above and must do all the essential work and forgo the optional ones.

    1. Klassy

      Important point. I’ve worked with women (and have shared the same sentiment) who lament overtime. Why? Because they “have a house that needs to be cleaned”. Sam Zell does not perform any unpaid labor I’m sure.

    2. flora

      The chutzpah: plutocrats complaining they’re put upon by everyone else, that they work harder than everyone else, that they are victims of the system (really, shouldn’t they be entitled to 1-dollar-1-vote ?), that they “create” wealth, is beyond satire.

  3. Brick

    Sam Zell does not work in a Bangladesh sweat factory doing 100+ hours a week, nor is he a junior doctor working 90+ hours a week. Nor does he have the stress of deployed military personnel or the limitations placed on him by being on 24 hour call. What Sam places greatest value on and the 99 % places greatest value on to society is completely at odds.
    This post is not about those obvious facts but about the opportunities and rewards for the 99%. Perhaps what is not explored in the post is the effect of the gender gap in wages and over work, along with the emergence of financial penalties if you do not over work.

      1. Banger

        I can assure you I wouldn’t want to be him or anyone like him. With money comes moral responsibility–if you misuse the treasure you have acquired or have acquired it through fraud then there’s karma to pay. No thanks.

  4. squasha

    these vulture capitalists confuse the requisite ethical contortions & nervous, often coke-addled spaz attacks involved in securing carrion (making the deal) for actual work in order to retroactively justify the oversized outcome

  5. Hugh

    I agree with Hayek’s Heelbiter. In the class war being waged against us, one of the most effective strategies of the rich and elites has been to separate all things economic: wealth, work, the economy itself from their social purposes. In this sense, what the rich and elites are doing is not work. Work helps build the kind of society we want to live in. Call what they do thievery, looting, terrorism, whatever it is is enormously destructive of us and our society. Look around you. Americans no longer expect a better life for their children. They have already destroyed our hopes. Now they seek to take what little we have left.

    What we need to remember is that we are the source of all wealth and all power in this country. It is our work that gives value to their billions, billions which they have not worked for but stolen from us.

  6. j gibbs

    As Marx tells us (quoting Hegel): ‘In our reflecting and reasoning age a man is not worth much who cannot give a good reason for everything, no matter how bad or how crazy. Everything in the world that has been done wrong has been done wrong for the very best of reasons.’

    In a saner age, the ‘work’ done by Zell and his cronies would be called conspiracy, usury, rent gouging, monopolization, bribery, adulteration, degradation, asset stripping and sweating labor. Yes, it’s hard work, but someone has to do it.

  7. JTFaraday

    “Sam Zell may have worked hard to become rich, but at every step along the way, someone was teaching him how to work hard — and rewarding him for that hard work.”

    No, that’s not it.

    Have you ever had some frat boy turned ham fisted “financial adviser’ fling around the phrase “get this money working for you” ? In the Alice in Wonderland world they’re trying to be a part of, which has way too much influence on the real world, “money works.” Therefore, if someone has more money than you– or manages more money than you– chances are they’re also working harder.

    Once you’ve redefined the word “work” like this, it is also easy to extend the activities that count as “work” and likewise the number of hours the rich spend doing them. In what sense can Sam Zell even be said to have had “a job”?

    1. Dan Kervick

      There you go. In the financial world, moving money from one account to another while getting a blowjob counts as work.

      But I think Lambert’s point about the difference between the hours worked ratio and the compensation ratio is the most important one. If we are going to evaluate monetary compensation as a reward for effort exerted, then even if we take those surveys and the protestations of the rich at face value, the actual disparities in monetary income are wildly out of proportion to the quantity of work.

    2. Moneta

      Work… like going to a conference in Bermuda and coming back home to talk to your clients on a golf about your new learned opportunities? The toughest part in this kind of work is dealing with your conscience if you are not a sociopath.

      What I find amazing is that our entire pension system is based on generating returns that are greater than our gdp growth, or in other words getting other people’s sweat into our portfolio. You can’t have everybody getting more than the national growth unless you are robbing another country or another generation, especially when your retiring cohort is a bubble. That is why I find trying to fund national pension plans based on returns that are greater than inflation ridiculous.

      The reason why it went this way is that intuitively, our leaders knew 40 years ago that raising the tax rate to fund SS on a pay-as-you-go basis would not work because of the boomer bulge and the following baby bust. They hoped that “wealth” in the markets could be created to deal with this reality.

      But our economic system is based on theft and delusions. That is why we get booms and busts. Over the last 4 decades, a lot of energy has gone into investing in stuff that boomers will not need in their retirement years. There are no free lunches and we are now paying the bill.

      1. cnchal

        Work… like going to a conference in Bermuda and coming back home to talk to your clients on a golf about your new learned opportunities?

        A tax write off! How nice for them.

        We can start by throwing a few thumbtacks into the shoes of a$$holes like Zell.

    3. HotFlash

      Betcha Sam also had somebody financing him. Do you suppose he had a part-time job while he was in college, or faced crippling student loan payments when he graduated?

  8. F. Beard

    Nice article!

    The very rich can work what, where, when, how and how much they want to work; we should ALL be so blessed. And even if the very rich do not take advantage (Hah!) of their enormous flexibility wrt work yet knowing it exists still bolsters them.

    And, of course, the insecurity and stresses of poverty can damage one’s ability to work intelligently or for long.

    But this is all mostly irrelevant per se. Our money system is UNJUST and that situation DEMANDS reform and restitution for previous theft. And no, Progressives, shoddy, hair shirt, dull, gray, socialism is NOT the solution; it’s part of the problem since it implicitly blames the victims.

  9. huxley

    The rich don’t work. They play. Work is for minions. Why should they work, when they can jerk around hordes of obedient serfs for fun and profit?

    They’re like the owners of sheep ranches. They hire people to tend the herds, and every once in a while they fleece them.

  10. Crazy Horse

    The best single metric for prediction of who will go to university is the level of wealth of the parents. Must prove that the rich are simply smarter than the spawn of the rabble?

    Or could it be that higher education is an expression of the class system that characterizes the society?

  11. Barutan Seijin

    Zell bought the Chicago Tribune in a LBO, which means he didn’t buy it the way you or i would. It was given to him because he was a member of the capitalist elite; or in other words, he had the credit. From there he ran TribCo into the ground, stole the pensions, then divested bits of it, walking away with cash after Chapter 11. If you or i did that it would be called “theft” or “fraud”, but if capitalist like Zell does it, it’s “work”.

    1. F. Beard

      You’ve nailed it.

      Our money system is built on the probable ability of those with equity (notably the rich) to repay a loan of stolen purchasing power with interest – but not to the victims of theft, the general population but especially from the non or less so-called “creditworthy” – but to thieves, the banking cartel.

      Hint: When it comes to ANY government backing for banks, NO ONE is credit-worthy unless the purpose of government is to allow the rich to loot the poor.

  12. huxley

    The rich work 10,000 to 100,000 times harder than anybody else, and some of them even more. Hence the celestial pay scales and the need for mostly-permanent vacations. You’d have a totalitarian attitude too if you had to toil like that.

    When a billionaire like Paris Hilton gets going, it’s really a sight to behold. Mere mortals couldn’t labor with that kind of heroic intensity by several orders of magnitude.

    They need to work so hard because they have thousands of shiftless retainers to support, euphemistically called “employees”. Heaven knows they don’t do anything but lay about all day and nick the wine cellars.

  13. McKillop

    Definitions of ‘work’ and ‘working hard’ need to be challenged or made clear before we allow characters such as Zell to get the fruit and the rind while demeaning those less fortunate than they.
    As a kid I sold goodies at the arena during hockey games and circuses and giant bingoes for 10% (on a dime per article) less any monies lost to theft or carelessness. At hockey games I’d luck out selling pop and peanuts to the fans; popcorn was a poor draw; ice-cream disastrous. At circuses kids made selling popcorn a bonanza. My takehome pay would vary from 12 cents to 3 dollars with the odd jackpot of 6 bucks sometimes won.
    The activity involved in the ‘work’ didn’t change but my luck sure did.
    At university I spent 14-16 hours ‘working’ towards getting my degree. The odd allnighter fatigued me and essays required effort but the actual ‘work’ I did involved reading literature and critical analyses. Easy for me but agony for someone else, I’d imagine. I’d work in the summers in the local mines and/or smelters and mills. Enduring the ‘working conditions’ was hard, what with the noise and dust and heat and gases, brimstone, chiefly, but other jobs I had were more difficult and stressful mentally -teaching being an example.
    Now I work as a handyman puttering about my home. I also continue my on-going task to harvest trees and make timber at my small woodlot. Doing so is physically demanding and dangerous and my being crippled with rheumatoid arthritis makes the work harder but a decent pension turns the work into play. Being able to quit when I want to is a blessing matched by the satisfaction of having created from scratch my own finished lumber, even though it’s “more work than it’s worth” monetarily.
    Of Zell and others like him I think that his justification _rationalization ?_ is nonsense.

    1. F. Beard

      Being able to quit when I want to is a blessing matched by the satisfaction of having created from scratch my own finished lumber, even though it’s “more work than it’s worth” monetarily.

      I hear ya! I spend oodles keeping my 14 year old car working and it’s fun and satisfying.

      As for your arthritis, I have ailments that come and go for no apparent reason other than that the Lord exists and can wound and heal as He sees fit.

    2. Patricia

      F Beard, rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t happen to show the Lord exists. Nor does it go away “as He sees fit”.

      McKillop, do you use finger/wrist supports? Just curious because I have RA, too, and now that I’m back to making art, these hands of mine are a conundrum. Frequent intermittent rest helps but what else? Arg!

      1. F. Beard

        Frequent intermittent rest helps but what else? Arg!

        Long-term (21 days or longer) water-only fasts have cured people of arthritis. My record is 17 1/2 days (after quite a few shorter fasts) going to engineering school and working full-time at night as a brick kiln watchman at the same time.

        But then again, I had to PRAY each day to make it through. I was desperate to have a good brain so I persevered.

    3. gepay

      So it is true what the Haitians say, “If work was all that great the rich would have stole it all a long time ago.”

  14. Banger

    Again, we are stuck in a perpetual bit of self-referential nonsense. Zell assumes that “hard work” is a virtue by itself. He doesn’t mention that this begs the question: hard work at what? The answer Zell would give is, of course, making money! As if making money was the ultimate goal of all human existence. If you assume that is enough for human beings then all hail Mr. Zell.

    I suggest that the idea the the goal of life is, chiefly, to make money is a sign of moral imbecility. Why this is not obvious is kind of hard to understand. People I’ve known who do become wealthy and work hard at it often discover the playful aspects of their work and enjoy it as children enjoy toys—but their attitudes often stay childish. If you focus narrowly on making money in your little area of expertise, well that’s interesting–but what are the consequences to the rest of us? What about poisoning the environment? What about people who make money producing harmful food products? What about Wall Street criminals who caused my wife’s business to fail? What about the criminal acts so many of the rich perform–the tax dodges, the lawyers who make up down and down up with their legalistic acrobatics and sympathetic judges and old-school ties and so on? What about people spending twice as much on health care so that these rich f—s can buy oversize boats they barely use just to impress their friends?

    Calling us “lazy” because we don’t rape and pillage the earth is a f-ing honor!

    1. JTFaraday

      “If you focus narrowly on making money in your little area of expertise, well that’s interesting–but what are the consequences to the rest of us? What about poisoning the environment?”

      Well, according to Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by environmental reporter Dan Fagin, the transplanted Eurpoean chemical companies, the local government, and the company employees all had recourse to the one sure conversation stopping higher principle: “‘job’ creation.”

      After they were created in the 1970s, the US environmental protection agencies also looked the other way.

      Today, the conspiracy of silence about decades of chemical pollution in Toms River naturally has recourse to a different higher principle: property values. After years of “hard work” paying that thing off, of course you want to cash out.

      So, now tell me, who isn’t in on it? Crisis of 2008, same story. Lots of multi-lateral participation there.

      I think the real question is, can we accept that we’ve bought into a culture that is rotten to the core and still prosecute its worst actors? Because it seems to me that some people would give them a free pass if only they would pass a jobs bill.

      I don’t think I buy that.

      1. JTFaraday

        Or, let me put a finer point on it. I think it’s dangerous to buy into that. This power structure cannot stand.

      2. Banger

        I’ve always said that we must all look in the mirror and take responsibility for the whole thing rather than blame the oligarchs. We, as a culture, encourage selfish behavior–my wife often points out some of that behavior and I’m beginning to understand my own darkness–I also point it out her selfish behavior so it balances out–and we still kiss a lot. We need to do that with each other–though maybe just kiss metaphorically.

        1. funknjunk

          I don’t really buy some of what I would call victim-blaming here.. when ALL of the systemic structures are stacked against you, I don’t think that’s appropriate. Economics, education, media and on and on. Blame the mass of people for what? Not “voting those bastards out”? Not to sound like Russell Brand, but fat chance. New boss/old boss. even if that “could” happen, how to educate the masses to create the necessary movement? With a multitude of think tanks churning out sophostry to convince them that what they know to be true is not true, and even if it is, it’s the natural order of things? mYeah, i don’t buy it.

  15. Vatch

    The plutocrats just keep on insulting the rest of us!

    Steve Schwarzman: Compared a proposed tax increase to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
    Lloyd Blankfein: He said that he’s just a banker doing God’s work.
    Jamie Dimon: “That’s why I’m richer than you” during a testy exchange with a securities analyst.
    John Mack: “Stop beating up on Lloyd and Jamie.”
    Tom Perkins: Compared the criticism of the rich to the Nazi atrocity Kristallnacht.
    Tom Perkins (again): Opined that people who pay more taxes should get more votes.
    Donald Trump: Too many to list, but I’ll mention “You’re fired!”

    Despite all this, there are plenty of middle and even lower income people who believe the swill that Fox News spews.

    1. F. Beard

      Despite all this, there are plenty of middle and even lower income people who believe the swill that Fox News spews.

      Because Progressive solutions (except for actual money distributions like Social Security) are even more loathsome than fascist neo-feudalism?

        1. F. Beard

          1) The Job (make-work) Guarantee proposed by most MMT advocates.
          2) A vast welfare bureaucracy (make-work for the middle class) instead of a guaranteed income for all plus land reform so that people have a place to do the work THEY choose.
          3) A vast public school system (more make-work for the middle class, especially administrators) and truancy laws instead of insuring that every family can afford to educate their children as THEY think best.

          1. lambert strether

            Please explain why “A job for anyone who wants one” (which is the nature of the guarantee) is more loathesome than “fascist neo-feudalism” (assuming that phrase actually has meaning and isn’t merely hate triggers randomly strung together, like (stringing random triggers together myself) “tsarist post-dystopianism.” What’s missing? Prancing horses? Flowing banners?

            1. F. Beard

              Please explain why “A job for anyone who wants one” (which is the nature of the guarantee) is more loathesome than “fascist neo-feudalism” Lambert

              Because, for one thing, it is a needless addition to a guaranteed income for all because if we all have a guaranteed income and some land then you, for instance, can come work for me and maybe my wife-to-be will be happy to order you around?

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Supposing I agree with your policy prescription; in what sense is a “needless addition” “fascist neo-feudalism”?

                That’s like saying, “Oh, I didn’t really mean ‘tsarist post-dystopianism,’ I meant “redundant.”

                I mean, come on.

                1. F. Beard

                  For one thing, Wray has said that a JG is to train and discipline workers for the so-called “private” sector, their oppressors by virtue of their so-called “credit-worthiness.” For another, it would keep them too busy and worn out to think of just alternatives to either make-work or enforced idleness.

                  A short definition of fascism is “government for the rich and/or special interests such as banks” when government should be for the general welfare. Disagree? And yes it is hateful. Disagree?

            2. F. Beard

              (assuming that phrase actually has meaning and isn’t merely hate triggers randomly strung together, like (stringing random triggers together myself) “tsarist post-dystopianism.” Lambert

              Who has ever caught me bluffing? Think you’ll be the first?

            3. Banger

              I’m going to agree with F. Beard here. Make work is better than nothing but still perpetuates the idea that “work” is in and of itself a virtuous and necessary thing. It simply is not. If you go back to Bucky Fuller, he stated, and I agree completely, that if you give everyone a basic stipend to meet their basic needs for every 100, even if 99 “go fishing” that one left over will create something that more than makes up for the “idleness” of the other 99. In fact, “idleness” is seldom just sitting around shooting up smack–usually it is playing, relating, and, above all, being creative.

              1. coboarts

                I agree. The make work slippery slope toward slavery needs to be rejected. F. Beard, I wasn’t sure at first what you’d meant.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  There is a better way – GDP sharing.

                  Nothing is guaranteed, but we share what we have.

                  Besides, the billionaires would like nothing better than for us to go away with a guarantee income set too low. Set up high (higher than the GDP), you might as well ask to double that.

                  GPD sharing, on the other hand, is always in accord with our production, and it reminds us that no man is an island, that GDP is teamwork and sharing is what makes us living beings, like others in Nature, who share the world with us.

                  1. F. Beard

                    There’d soon be little to share under your proposal; see the history of early colonies in the US who tried your solution.

                    Instead land reform, common stock redistribution and the abolition of the counterfeiting cartel including bogus debt owed to it is the way to go.

          2. Vatch

            1) Unemployment is rising, in part because of increasing automation. If the corporate owners won’t share the benefits of improved efficiency, then it seems quite reasonable to me to guarantee people a job.

            2) The guaranteed income for all that you support is quite similar to the guaranteed job for all that you oppose. Anyhow, wouldn’t Fox News object to both a guaranteed income and a guaranteed job?

            3) Some public schools are mismanaged, but that doesn’t mean that private schools, charter schools, or home schooling is necessarily good, either. For example, see I, for one, do not want public voucher money to support madrassas.

            1. F. Beard

              It’s not JOBS people need; it is the ability TO WORK!

              With a guaranteed income and adequate land we can ALL work for ourselves or for someone else for free if necessary.

              1. Vatch

                I’m still confused. In what way does Fox News support a guaranteed income or adequate land for people? What you are saying is far closer to progressivism than to any “ism” associated with Fox News.

                1. F. Beard

                  You’d be surprised how many people are in favor of justice rather than shoddy socialism.

                  Restitution for theft is perfectly valid from a conservative and libertarian perspective and the banking cartel has stolen the nation’s birthright.

                  1. Vatch

                    Nonsense. The conservatives and libertarians own the banks, the oil companies, big ag, big pharm, and most of the mass media companies, such as Fox News. Yes, some of those conservatives are Democrats, but as this blog has often taught us, there’s little about the modern Democratic party that is progressive.

                    1. F. Beard

                      It’s not nonsense. No conservative would ever dare publicly oppose restitution for theft cause, ya know, “Thou shall not steal” and the rest of the Bible.

                      It’s not justice true conservatives hate; it’s the faux-justice that timid Progressives ladle out.

                    2. F. Beard

                      And Progressives should be whopping faux-conservatives upside-the-head with Leviticus 25 EXCEPT they don’t it themselves?

                    3. Vatch

                      My first attempt to post this message failed, so if it eventually shows up, I apologize for the duplication.

                      “True conservatives”? You’re subjecting us to the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

                      Conservatives want to conserve the status quo. Justice is secondary. Preserving the rights and privileges of the powerful is at the core of conservatism.

                    4. F. Beard

                      Conservatives want to conserve the status quo. Justice is secondary. Preserving the rights and privileges of the powerful is at the core of conservatism.

                      Maybe privately in many cases but NEVER publicly.

                      Whip out Leviticus 25 and you’ll leave them stunned speechless or stuttering like idiots.

                    5. Vatch

                      F. Beard, you may not like this, but many of your opinions could be categorized as Christian Progressivism.

                    6. F. Beard

                      Except I actually believe in God (and I’m not Him) and the fear of Him drives me toward justice:

                      He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

                      That fear should be used against the unjust or at least the fear of those who fear Him.

                    7. F. Beard

                      Not even a progressive since I would NEVER have supported the Federal Reserve Act – the passage of which constitutes a “day of infamy.”

                    8. Vatch

                      Okay, fine. You’re not a progressive. You’re a radical. That’s the only remaining alternative for someone as supportive of the redistribution of wealth as you are.

            2. F. Beard

              If the corporate owners won’t share the benefits of improved efficiency, then it seems quite reasonable to me to guarantee people a job.

              How about justice instead? The large corporations were most likely built with the stolen purchasing power of the entire population via loans from the government-backed credit cartel.

              So, instead of insulting make-work, how about we equally redistribute the common stock of all large corporations? Would that at all matter to how well they run?

              1. Vatch

                “Equally redistribute the common stock of all large corporations”? I might be able to support that idea. I hope you realize that Fox News (and other conservatives) would label you a communist for advocating such a progressive policy.

                1. F. Beard

                  A Secret Serviceman was asked: “You must have to study a lot of counterfeit money in your job.” He answered: “No, not at all; we only study genuine money and then the counterfeits become obvious.”

                  Fox deals in the counterfeit and is thus a paper tiger to one Biblically informed.

                  1. Vatch

                    At the beginning of this thread, I said, “Despite all this, there are plenty of middle and even lower income people who believe the swill that Fox News spews.”

                    Now you say “Fox deals in the counterfeit and is thus a paper tiger to one Biblically informed.”

                    So it seems that we agree that Fox News puts out bad information, although our reasons for agreeing about this may differ. I still find it perplexing that so many non-rich people believe the garbage that comes out of Fox. Based on your “counterfeit” comment, it appears that you are probably also either perplexed or outraged by the willingness of people to believe Fox propaganda.

                    1. F. Beard

                      Not so perplexed since Progressives have not offered a decent alternative to neo-feudalism where one, after all, might luck out and work for a compassionate, wise, neo-lord.

                    2. Vatch

                      Fox News is an official propaganda outlet for conservatism / neo-feudalism. They’ll never offer an alternative to “neo-feudalism”, because that is what they are. They willingly serve as vassals for the giant banks, oil companies, military contractors, etc.

                    3. Vatch

                      No, justice would require the plutocrats who control Fox to relinquish some of their wealth. It won’t happen.

                    4. F. Beard

                      Fox can learn or be discarded in the ashcan of history or perhaps end up as ashes themselves (See Malachi 4).

                    5. Mac

                      FOX news does as they do to make money. They do as they do to attract audience to support charges for advertising. If they could do better espousing other lines they would. It is about money not beliefs.

              2. F. Beard

                Would that at all matter to how well they [large corporations] run? moi

                Actually, it should improve their operations since the workers would be co-owners.

              3. coboarts

                I am more supportive of the idea that the commons are truly owned by all, and I think that is what is meant today by the phrase “everything for everyone.” I think that it addresses the crimes against society at a deeper level. I recall that B. Franklin was opposed to the representative form of government due to the tendency for the representatives of the people to be bought off. That certainly has been the case in the good ole USA.

                1. F. Beard

                  Yes, public commons should exist but otoh so should private property (but not more than a single family can manage) and the right to exclude undesirables from it such as those that think, for extreme example, that just because they cannot find a woman to tolerate them that I should should be forced to share mine with them.

                  We’ll go to the mat over that! And worse!

                  1. skippy

                    “for extreme example, that just because they cannot find a woman to tolerate them that I should should be forced to share mine with them.”- beardo

                    WTF??? – forced to share “mine [woman – plural]” with them. Sick twisted stuff beardo, “mine” denotes ownership imo aka slavery.

                    skippy… loving the old testament I see.

                    1. F. Beard

                      In Christian marriage, the wife also owns the husband – at least his body. And while the husband is commanded to LOVE his wife, the wife is only commanded to honor her husband.

                      You were saying?

                    2. F. Beard

                      I had singular in mind – thanks for the correction. Make that “My” instead of mine.

                      Never claimed I was perfect, even in grammar.

                    3. F. Beard

                      Actually “mine” can denote plural or singular (try substituting “my” for “mine” in my comment and see) so I retract my correction.

                      Two beers is over my limit, I guess.

                    4. skippy

                      “In Christian marriage, the wife also owns the husband – at least his body” – beardo.

                      Well now were on about owning humans again, regardless of contractual status ie “at least his body”

                      “husband is commanded to LOVE his wife, the wife is only commanded to honor her husband.” – Beardo

                      skip… So your saying a husband is commanded into the condition of – love – and the wife commanded to honor [obay] – the bloke that is under orders from some unseen contractual 3rd party. Bawhahahahahaha~~~

                      Skippy… and some wonder how the whole slavery thing keeps on manifesting throughout human history. Well maybe its pre-cog’ed via some institutionalized agency methinks.

            3. Banger

              As for your question 1) it depends on what your view of human nature–I believe people want to help others and will work for free if given the basics at what needs to be done–not what some central bureaucracy determines. When I have trouble with my car in the snow people spring up to help almost all the time–I’ve always done that myself.

              As for 3) schools are crap. They exist to perpetuate themselves–they do not use the latest findings of neuro-science of learning theories or even child-development ideas that are decades old. Decades ago in Deschooling Society Ivan Illich wront eloquently about schools as totalitarian institutions and gave an alternative–which today is quite easy to achieve—instead of “schools” have learning centers as exchanges where teachers teach what they know and students go to the teachers that appeal to them and can connect with them as individuals. The whole structure of schooling is based in the 19th century and doesn’t belong to today’s world.

          3. j gibbs

            Exactly right. I think it was Mark Twain who said that murdering a man was the only thing worse than hiring him. It just shows how desperate people have become that what they are demanding is a job. I remember the Sixties, when people in droves walked away from jobs and never looked back.

            I often wonder what happened to them.

            1. Banger

              I’m still here!!! I was dragged out of the boho lifestyle kicking and screaming but at least avoided the worst of the soul-deadening crap my contemporaries suffered through.

              1. coboarts

                I agree, a job and complete buy-in to our industrial, consumer based society is not much different than a jail sentence. I’ve done what I needed to do to pay bills and exist, but I’ve invested the rest of my time, stolen from the world, to delve more deeply into the mysteries surrounding me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and now I’m interested to see if my pursuits will carry me through the later years in life or if this ugly, belching, smoking machine will run me over. It’s breaking down, but is it breaking down faster or slower than bio-me TBD.

      1. Banger

        I kind of agree–Obamacare is a case and point but can you expand on that? I’m curious to hear your approach to these problems.

        1. Vatch

          I disagree that Obamacare is a progressive policy. It’s welfare for the giant insurance companies. A single payer plan would be progressive.

          1. Moneta

            I have trouble believing the US could have gotten single payer in one shot… it will probably be the first of many more progressions.

            Unless the US does indeed become a third world country.

            1. Banger

              I think something relatively rational could have been created had there not been this worship of Obama and self-congratulation on the part of the left that they elected someone who could speak in English sentences and was “Black” (actually bi-racial). That gave O. the cover to impose his preference for Republican policies that, were then and are now, to the right of Nixon.

              1. Moneta

                There is always theory and practice.

                There always seem to be many options but the reality is that there is only 1 course of action which depends on the set of variables at each point in time. I call it the illusion of choice.

          2. Banger

            It’s progressive relative the the U.S. political scene–of course it is clearly a center-right policy if you go back to the 70s.

            1. coboarts

              We’ll end up with single payer, because there won’t be any alternative. An important additional step will be to massively expand the education/training of doctors by lowering false barriers to entry. The way the medical establishment has set itself up, doctors kill themselves to enter a world of wealth.

  16. Rangoon78

    “Not your typical warehouse. Not your typical warehouse job.
    Launch your career at Amazon Fulfillment
    Amazon is seeking bright, motivated, hardworking individuals to fill Fulfillment Associate positions. The ideal candidate possesses a strong work ethic, attention to detail, the ability to meet deadlines, and a commitment to customer service as it relates to product fulfillment. Amazon is currently hiring Fulfillment Associates and Lead Fulfillment Associates for our Fulfillment Centers (FCs) throughout the United States.”

    So these are the jobs that are bringing down the unemployment rate. The future, presented by our leaders as so rosy, really appears quite bleak for the fastest growing segment of the globalized workforce, the working poor.

    The only place I find any pushback against Amazon is in Germany. But the company is looking to expand in Poland where workers are more like those here: easily exploited:

    Amazon Workers Strike as German Union Finds a Way: Video – Bloomberg

    In the UK:
    …the mines have closed, and a new industry has come to town: Amazon, which has built a massive fulfillment center in the town, the size of “nine football pitches.”

    But according to a feature in the Financial Times, the conditions at the new Amazon warehouse aren’t much different than what residents found working in the coal mines [except the pay is worse]…

    “The feedback we’re getting is it’s like being in a slave camp,” said Brian Garner, the dapper chairman of the Lea Hall Miners Welfare Centre…

    The picture of the brutal working conditions endured by people this fast growing segment of the economy is revealed here:

    1. Banger

      This is all obvious and predictable. The current world-system (the Empire) does not care about any of us. To support it is to be on the side of the machines in the Matrix. I think people are beginning to grasp the nature of the system as a bizarre form of feudalism with the media acting as the Church.

  17. Ken

    This is a good article. We could add much more. Let’s talk marginal returns. A middle class or poor person weighs the marginal returns of an extra hour of work versus the costs. If you need to hire a babysitter to watch the kinds then that makes an extra hour of work less attractive. If your pulling in $200K and you boss asks you to fly to Singapore for the week and you know there is a reasonable chance this will land you a $20K bonus or get you a promotion to $250K then you hire a nanny. Or, if you got that kind of wealth you have a stay-at-home partner and taking the junket and “working harder” suddenly becomes plausible. If you know that the extra money you will make from an extra hour will translate into enough money to invest then it may be worth it because your investment income creates additional opportunities for more work. A middle class person might work harder for investment income but it is just enough to start a small retirement fund, not the kind of money you get to play with in venture activities, but the kind you lock up in a safe index fund that you don’t touch until you retire. The wealthy person now has an extra $10 million and they can say, “what shall I do with my riches” and they get to be creative and start businesses and so on and they get to call this work. A middle class person says, I’m lucky if I can save enough to retire on so my time is better spent volunteering at church or the local pet shelter. Does anyone consider that work? How about the middle class folks who can’t effort fancy private schools and summer camps and so they spend extra time raising their children because they know that translates into a competitive edge when it comes to college apps. Is that factored into “work”?

  18. allcoppedout

    Spot on Lambert. I once trained every day (except match days) for the chance of a £20 winning match fee (we lost a lot). Some played for the money (about a week’s wage then – we were part-timers), most for the crack and some because they liked pain or giving it. I don’t remember any of us lining up to shout ‘idle bistards’ at the crowd. This rich jive is the old story of the heroic Socrates doing his army service running through snow with no boots on in an economy in which slaves and bronze people scarred their souls doing the real work.

  19. jrs

    Still these people who can work as much as they like and choose to spend all their extra hours working have holes where their souls should be. Tthey are vacant hollow men (and women but women are more likely to draw the line). To be pitied as much as envied.

    If they were curing cancer or something who am I to argue with them being workaholics, but I didn’t know that was a route to the 1%. And even if they work for vaunted non-profits, are they really the real route to a better world as opposed to mutual aid, solidarity and challenging the system? Then they will find there efforts are better spend elsewhere …

  20. TomDority

    Zell, by definition, does not work. His ‘work’, if not so tax favored, is of negative social value. He is like a member of a gang who, without his cohorts giving him ‘bravado’ is just a feeble cowardly, frightened little brat …. the single voice in a choir that makes up the sucking sound heard around the world… the shallow fetid puddle of humanity who steal from those who create wealth. The creators of wealth create value, create, innovate, and show true bravery that a Sam Zell can only delude himself through money as having.

    Laborers knowing that science and invention have increased enormously the power of labor, cannot understand why they do not receive more of the increased product, and accuse capital of withholding it. The employer, finding it increasingly difficult to make both ends meet, accuses labor of shirking. Thus suspicion is aroused, distrust follows, and soon both are angry and struggling for mastery.
    It is not the man who gives employment to labor that does harm. The mischief comes from the man who does not give employment. Every factory, every store, every building, every bit of wealth in any shape requires labor in its creation. The more wealth created the more labor employed, the higher wages and lower prices.
    But while some men employ labor and produce wealth, others speculate in lands and resources required for production, and without employing labor or producing wealth they secure a large part of the wealth others produce. What they get without producing, labor and capital produce without getting. That is why labor and capital quarrel. But the quarrel should not be between labor and capital, but between the non-producing speculator on the one hand and labor and capital on the other.
    Co-operation between employer and employee will lead to more friendly relations and a better understanding, and will hasten the day when they will see that their interests are mutual. As long as they stand apart and permit the non-producing, non-employing exploiter to make each think the other is his enemy, the speculator will prey upon both.
    Co-operating friends, when they fully realize the source of their troubles will find at hand a simple and effective cure: The removal of taxes from industry, and the taxing of privilege and monopoly. Remove the heavy burdens of government from those who employ labor and produce wealth, and lay them upon those who enrich themselves without employing labor or producing wealth.

    1. coboarts

      The problem with this argument is that it neither takes into account the entire system of industrial economy, which is running into the hard limits of resource scarcity and the ecosystem’s ability to absorb toxins, nor does it go back to the roots of the industrial age and the enclosure acts that forced workers into wage labor in the first place – fruit of the poison tree.

      1. TomDority

        Perhaps you would expand.
        Also, perhaps today’s economics does not take into account economic rent and predatory practices.

        1. coboarts

          Yes, expanding on my first point I want to reference an article in today’s Links section: “‘Alive in the Sunshine’ Jacobin. BIG.” It’s very well written and representative of the direction that I would personally like to see us head. To further expand I will also reference the book “Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update” [Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis L. Meadows]. This is a well documented analysis of the overshoot our industrial civilization has manifested on the ecosystem that supports our existence. I have no interest in debating the conclusions put forth in this book and in many others.

          My second point was that the nature of the industrial revolution was established by the coercive measures that were required to force England’s peasants off of the land that had supported them for generations and into the cities and factories that required cheap labor to support the amassing of great fortunes by the owners of the means of production. This was known as the enclosure movement. I would suggest looking it up if you hadn’t already heard of it. You will find it quite interesting. The new fictionalization/financialization of the economy has increased the tyranny of the rentier class. And maybe financialization of the economy is a logical development in the course of the development of capitalism from its roots in the productive economy to its present, squid like, dominance of the economy as a whole.

          The important point, from my perspective, is that we need to step back from a consumer based, forever growing model of the economy before we all die from it, and I didn’t see that reflected in your comment. Changing over to a cooperative based ownership model might solve some of the issues of economic fairness, but it doesn’t address the relationship of this economic model and its impact on the thin envelope of environmental conditions that support human life.

          1. F. Beard

            It’s usury that drives environmental destruction since usury* requires exponential growth. Otoh, common stock as private money ALLOWS but does not REQUIRE any growth at all.

            *Especially combined with credit creation since it drives nearly everyone into debt.

            1. j gibbs

              You still haven’t read Veblen. The name of the game is Perpetual Recapitalization of Assets using the leverage of Bank Credit. You have long cycles of asset inflation and periodic busts, and the bankers make money in both directions, except when they completely screw up, at which time the Fed bails them out, so now they make money all the time, and the bank executives loot the proceeds. Well heeled speculators play this game with bank money; company executives play for free with stock options; Wall Street shysters play with municipal pension funds: heads they win, tails, retirees lose.

              For about twenty years, middle class people thought they could play this game in real estate and stocks, but they seldom have enough money to avoid being stripped in the collapses, which are always sudden and unexpected.

              While all this was going on labor lost all the bargaining power it had gained laboriously since 1935. They were conned, first by Carter, then by Reagan, then by Clinton, finally by the Manchurian Candidate.

              1. F. Beard

                I don’t see what I said to the contrary. Absentee Ownership has arrived and since what you said confirms much of my own thinking, I think I might enjoy it.

              2. Moneta

                We could have opted for pay-as-you-go pensions but not many want to pay taxes.

                Most prefer the money printing option in the hope that someone else will pay for a free lunch.

  21. John Reagan

    Absurd. Right off the bat, the title of the article is wrong. Who says the rich work harder? I know many ‘poor’ and ‘middle class’ that work far in excess of 40 hour weeks, often holding down two jobs. My father did, and my final 9 years in my last job was 3 weeks on, two days off, and between 16 and 20 hours per day. I’m certainly not rich. What hogwash.

    1. jrs

      I don’t think very many people believe that, at best occasionally hard work well applied is a good strategy, and at other times just working enough to stay employed is a good strategy.

      But these basketcase insane rich, who keep spending all their hours working at work *without* any great social value despite having enough ought to be a DSMV category. They’re almost ready for a mental asylum in my view. Who would want to be insane even if they could?

    1. F. Beard

      And often via the government-backed credit cartel whereby those with equity can borrow the stolen purchasing power of those without.

  22. Scot Griffin

    Wouldn’t it be great if there were even one billionaire who publicly acknowledged the role luck played in his personal success? Hard work does not guarantee any rewards, not even in Mr. Zell’s line of business (i.e., real estate speculation, which is really just a form of gambling).

  23. Bryant Keefe

    I like working hard. I like the opportunity to make the life I want. Every single American can become rich if that is the path they choose. The longer we have these useless debates the longer you stay broke and blaming everyone but yourself for your place in life. Get rich, don’t get rich but know it is 100% your choice. All wealth started as hard work, sacrifice and maturity. Have you noticed the people screaming the loudest for higher wages are themselves millionaires? Congress, Senate, White House…all rich…Hmmmm.

    1. Moneta

      The reason why this debate goes on is because there are so many people who think like you do. How many examples of rich people who did not work hard for their money do we need to provide to finally get through to you? If you were born with a disability, do you really believe you would have all the same opportunities as Forrest Gump?

      Wake up and smell the roses!

  24. Kunst

    The Zells of the world don’t really think they work harder. They know what a luxurious lifestyle their “work” really is. The problem is that even they don’t have the balls to say what they really think, which is that they are a whole lot SMARTER than the rest of us. And not smarter than your MD, university professor, or engineer, but better at the GAME that is our economy. To the money types, this is a game, gambling with other people’s money with the odds in your favor. The problem is that the game is dysfunctional for society as a whole. And on top of that, they use their money to bend the rules of the system further in their favor. This is how revolutions are born.

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