Quantcast
Opinion

Robert Bennett: Create wealth before distributing it

Comments

Return To Article
  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Dec. 9, 2013 7:03 a.m.

    This editorial is almost too flawed to comment on.

    "The countries where the statistical gap between rich and poor is smallest tend to be those that are the poorest."

    Wealth inequality is the REASON that countries are poor. Just look at Mexico, a country with huge human capital, and mineral resources, that is held back by a corrupt, wealthy, minority.

    Is this the latest in international trickle down economics?

  • Truthseeker2 SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
    Dec. 9, 2013 7:49 a.m.

    "The countries where the statistical gap between rich and poor is smallest tend to be those that are the poorest."

    Ummm, incorrect.

    According to the Gini co-efficient, a measure of inequality, the most equitable countries are the Scandinavian countries. Rwanda has a World Bank Gini co--efficient of 50.8, the U.S:45, Denmark:24. The higher the number, the more unequal. Inequality has been increasing in the U.S. as a result of wealth accumulation for the top .1%. Tax policy can affect inequality--such as low capital gains tax rates, or the carried interest rule. Low/depressed wage rates also increase inequality.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    I look forward to Senator Bennett's next column, as he tends to be thoughtful and insightful, but a few observations:

    The CIA using an index to assess social stability inside nations called GINI, which is a measure of economic inequality. Like golf, lower GINI scores are better, higher scores are not desirable.

    Not surprisingly, the best score is Denmark, a Scandinavian country, with a score of .23. Our neighbors to the north, Canada, have a score of .32. Mexico is .48 - not so good. The US GINI score is .45, much closer to Mexico's score than Canada's.

    This should be concerning to anyone who thinks about the future of the US.

    Nations with greater economic inequality tend to have more social and health problems. The epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson has done some impressive statistical correlation across a great number of nations. His TED video is a must, for those who care about these things.

    I work with a number of Indians who note that the economic tiers in the US are a reminder to them of the caste system that India is trying to eliminate. As mobility between our tiers becomes more difficult, the analogy becomes more apt.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 8:17 a.m.

    Great. We get a lecture on free markets, from the guy who used billions of our tax dollars to bail out his cronies when their banks got in trouble. I'm sure it will be fascinating.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Dec. 9, 2013 8:33 a.m.

    In all cases, GOVERNMENT is the cause of poverty. GOVERNMENT creates the laws under which companies operate. GOVERNMENT redistributes wealth.

    Who controls the oil in Mexico?

    Who dictated what workers would do and what businesses would pay in Russia?

    Who created havoc so that other nations would not trade in Vietnam and North Korea?

    When GOVERNMENT dictates, people suffer. India is proof of that. Russia is proof of that.

    Mr. Bennett is correct. Nit picking does not change the fact that the people in Russia and India and China have prospered when GOVERNMENT allowed free enterprise.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 8:58 a.m.

    30,40,50,or 60,years ago,the U.S. was a prosperous, capitalist country. Wealth then was much more equally distributed than it is now. Capitalism is not incompatible with a decent income for most people. The richest people in the country have rigged the system so that an ever increasing share of the wealth goes to themselves.

    This system is not sustainable. When a few people can live like Roman Emperors, wile the majority of the county struggles to make a living, that majority will not continue to support the system. The people at the top know this, and they will impose a police state on everyone else to protect themselves. We are already travelling in this direction.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 9:46 a.m.

    2 major flaws to this article --

    1. The Wealth IS being created. 85% of it belongs to the 1% who have quadupled their earnings over the last 10 years.

    2. The Wealth IS already redistributed. Look at how the uber-wealthy have sent that money to Communist Red China and grown THEIR ecoomy.

    It's like the Communists have knocked one right over the right-wing fielders narrow-minded heads without them even noticing it.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Dec. 9, 2013 10:28 a.m.

    In America, anyone is allowed to own a business. Those who keep telling us that business owners are "evil" and "corrupt" because those business owners have risked capital to create a business (when MOST businesses fail within a few years of their start-up), obviously have never risked capital to start a new business. They demand that those who have risked money hand those profits over to those who will not take a risk. That is not the way things are done in America. There demands are the demands of those who believe in some form of communism.

    A worker is entitled to be paid for the VALUE of his work. He is not an owner. He has no right to demand a share of the profits made by that business. If he wants a share of the profits, he needs to risk part of his wages to buy shares of that business.

    Bob Bennett is correct. Capitalism is correct. Anyone in America can join - if they are willing to risk their money.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    Former Senator Bennett: My only wish is that you had been willing to stand up for that during your tenure as Senator. Your actions needed to correspond with your words. Perhaps you did more than I know, but when I look at the policies and the growth of government, spending, etc. it is difficult to believe that you were for Free markets. Period. Not kind of, not with stipulations, not temporarily, not until the squeaky wheel stops squeaking, but Free Markets, now and forever. Free markets,not crony capitalism (which is what I believe you supported), but Free Markets, the best tool for wealth creation the world has ever known!

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 10:41 a.m.

    Roland & LDS liberal: No one disagrees with you. Please get off this mantra and return to fundamentals of why. It is government intervention and crony capitalism and corruption of public officials that created the mess and the only way to get rid of it is to return to Free Markets where the rich and powerful can't manipulate the corrupt politicians to keep them rich and powerful. Quit treating the slaves of the rich and powerful as if they can't think and and act for themselves. They don't need to you to enact some law to confiscate the wealth of these people. They need you to tell them that their future is as bright as their faith if they will support the principles that made it possible for the wealthy to become wealthy.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 9, 2013 10:55 a.m.

    This article is really a microcosm of every pro-conservative economic policy piece I have ever seen: caricature the world as a choice between two and only two outcomes – laissez faire economics or abject poverty.

    Very few serious political thinkers argue against free markets as the best means of bringing people out of poverty and releasing creative human potential, but there is a vast spectrum between the two ends of the Randian cartoon Bob sketches for us here.

    For example – does it make sense to allow an economic system to remain totally unchecked that rewards a small number of individuals with ~10,000 times the wealth of millions of others (i.e., does anyone work 10,000 times as hard as millions of others)?

    Unless we are willing to have these discussions in a rational manner, we will continue to elect politicians who serve one small end of this spectrum, and given the flaws in each of these one-sided views, these politicians will never command a filibuster proof majority (something sadly necessary in our country today in order to govern) and gridlock will be the new normal.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Dec. 9, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    Re:MikeRichards
    "In America, anyone is allowed to own a business. Those who keep telling us that business owners are "evil" and "corrupt"

    Are you saying I can put up a sign at my house tomorrow and whatever I want without govt involvement?

    What would you call business owners like Bernie Madoff? Or the owners of Enron. There are many, many examples of corruption which have caused not only economic harm, but death.

    "worker is entitled to be paid for the VALUE of his work"

    Who determines the "value" of work? I suppose Hollywood stars and professional athletes are more valuable to society than teachers, firemen and law enforcement officers?

    Nobody is against capitalism and a free market economy. But some of us recognize there needs to be an "umpire," such as the govt to protect against harm caused by greed, and unethical practices.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    "The countries where the statistical gap between rich and poor is smallest tend to be those that are the poorest."

    Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (the nations that do have the lowest income inequality) are not poor and Rwanda does not have one of the smallest statistical gaps.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 11:05 a.m.

    @bandersen
    "the only way to get rid of it is to return to Free Markets "

    Completely the opposite. It'd be even worse if we loosened regulations. Let's take a simple example. Get rid of the minimum wage and a company could pay their workers less, increasing wealth inequality.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    To banderson: The facts contradict your argument. During the period I am referencing 1940-80, taxes on the rich and on business were much higher than they are now. 37% of American workers belonged to a union vs. about 7% now. Glass-Steagall was in effect and the financial system was much more regulated than it is today. In other words, the free market was less free, yet we obtained better results for the vast majority of American workers.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 11:51 a.m.

    All wealth is created from the mental and physical labor of human beings.

    Civilization made it possible for some individuals to benefit from the wealth produced by others and thus the businessman was born, along with wars and other forms of competition between businessmen.

    Early on the technology was such that the creator himself was the beneficiary and his efforts enabled him to live. Today technology allows businessmen to store up that wealth and use it over and over without further compensation to the creator. Not so for songs, writing and inventions, the worker who builds the machines that duplicate his labor is paid only once.

    We need not do away with private enterprise capitalism, however, the rules for capitalism needs to be changed to compensate for the lost component.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    Just remember you - "Free Market" capitalists, keep the Government out of my affairs,
    Business is Babylon,
    anything for a buck,
    He who has the most gold, makes the rules...

    Drugs and Prostitution shoot the very first hole and slam the brakes on your Free Market fantasy world.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 1:01 p.m.

    I would think attaining a better understanding of what the pope meant would be a better place for Bob and anyone else to start. It's been facisnating to watch conservatives response to this issue over the past few weeks. Nothing fears the establishment more than the force of religon and it's potential to stir the masses. It's almost as if Bob, Rush and the others speaking out have a greater concern for what the political implications are on the church's stance vs. what is really being said.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 1:41 p.m.

    I grew up in the Soviet Union and know first-hand about the forced equality. In one joke a Russian peasant receives a visit from an angel who tells him he would give him anything, but he would give twice that much to his neighbor. The peasant thinks, then tells the angel to poke out his eye.

    I think both income equality or inequality can come from multiple causes, and either is not necessarily bad. Instead of worrying about equality we should focus on raising the standard of living for everybody. What is better - if you have no car just like your neighbor, or if you have one but he has three?

    Consider the problem of equally dividing a pie. By the time you figured out a fair way to divide it you could have baked ten more.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    To Sasha Pachev: In 1950, or 1970, our society was much more equal than it is now, yet it was nothing like the Soviet Union. No one is arguing that we should emulate the Soviets or that everyone should have the same. But it is profoundly destructive to society when a small group seizes control of all the nation's wealth.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 2:05 p.m.

    Getting back to Bob's argument, wealth is being created in America just fine. GDP is growing and has been since 2009, when the recession officially ended. The stock market has been rising since the crash, reaching a new all-time high a few short days ago. But this wealth is not benefiting most Americans.

    When regulations are lax, tax rates are flattened, and corporations have the opportunity to pay as little in wages as possible, by sending jobs overseas or replacing them with either technology or higher productivity, less money goes to the workers and more to the executives and owners. (This can also be accomplished by not raising the minimum wage to match inflation.)

    Conservative commenters will argue that this is economic freedom. But freedom for whom? If they somehow think this arrangement will lead to greater overall economic health, they are deluding themselves. Conservatives decry the national debt, but they do not recognize that a large part of the debt is a result of the expanding inequality they support. Economically, they are the blind leading the lame.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 2:07 p.m.

    Sasha Pachev
    Provo, UT
    Consider the problem of equally dividing a pie. By the time you figured out a fair way to divide it you could have baked ten more.

    1:41 p.m. Dec. 9, 2013

    =========

    But the problem in the United States over the last 30 years has changed to,

    the 99% are busy baking those 10 pies for the 1%,
    and then left to fight over how to slice up 1/100th of one slice, of one pie, amongst a hundred of them.

    Jesus performed a lesser miracle feeding the multitudes.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Dec. 9, 2013 2:36 p.m.

    @Sasha Pachev – “What is better - if you have no car just like your neighbor, or if you have one but he has three?”

    Sasha - like the article you’re turning the real world into a cartoon where the choice becomes obvious. This was done in novels by your compatriot Ayn Rand – perhaps there is something about the depressing Russian system (or landscape) that predisposes people there to see the world in such sharp contrasts, and perhaps that further explains the political pendulum swings your country has undergone in the last 100 years.

    No one (except a communist) is talking about confiscating your neighbor’s three cars or even a hundred cars. But how would you feel if you had one and your neighbor had ten thousand? Only the 1st hundred or so are acquired through their own hard work and enterprise – after that, most of their wealth gains are simply economies of scale (like compounding interest) doing their magic.

    Even Warren Buffett - as committed a capitalist as anyone – recognizes that his wealth is largely the product of good fortune and winning the genetic lottery.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 3:33 p.m.

    Sasha Pachev.

    I’m not sure I understand your humor or your logic, but I would like to hear more

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 3:35 p.m.

    @Tyler D "But how would you feel if you had one and your neighbor had ten thousand?"

    It doesn't matter how anyone feels. They're his cars. Be grateful that you live in a country where a man is free to own 10,000 cars.

  • glendenbg Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 4:41 p.m.

    This editorial falsey asserts that the most equal nations are the poorest. In fact, economic inequality is lowest in wealthy nations - Europe, Australia, and Canada. Contrary to Bennett's assertion, Rwanda has not achieved economic equality - instead their economic inequality is slightly worse than ours. Just good inequality by nation and you'll see the results.

    Of the OECD nations, the US is 3rd most unequal.

    Economic inequality is a moral, political and economic issues. More equal nations tend to experience greater political and economic stability than less equal nations. More importantly, economic equality arises as a result of policy choices. The economy isn't a force of nature - it results from a combination of individual and collective choices, which can include deliberate choices to create greater economic equality.

    I also believe that Bennett did not read the Pope's exhortation. Evangelii Gaudium does not say we should abandon capitalism nor does it say capitalism is bad or evil. In it, the Pope, in keeping with centuries of Catholic teaching, calls us to abandon the worship of profits and wealth and to attend to create a more just society in which all are fed, clothed, housed and cared for.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Dec. 9, 2013 5:25 p.m.

    Re:Nate

    @Tyler D "But how would you feel if you had one and your neighbor had ten thousand?"

    It doesn't matter how anyone feels. They're his cars. Be grateful that you live in a country where a man is free to own 10,000 cars.

    Me:it matters if tou helped build those cars yet can't afford to feed or educate your children.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Dec. 9, 2013 6:18 p.m.

    "India was not at war, but her socialist government was deliberately patterned after the Soviet model and stifled growth. "

    Not sure what Mr. Bennett is referring to here. India was not modeled on a soviet or chinese form of socialism - it couldn't have been further from it. India's issues relate back to the good old imperialist government and policies of the British. It was probably one of the most class based societies known to man at the time.

    India has been messed up... that is for sure. But it was also a clear example of where class prevented mobility, and in some cases still does. What you became was what your family cast allowed you to be. It had nothing to do with Soviet style anything. If you want to see a good example of british bureaucracy, look no further than India. Add the existing cast and tribal culture...

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 8:19 p.m.

    Here's the rub. I agree with Bennett somewhat with his premise that we need to create more wealth and we need to support some policies to do this. Unfortunately, his weak scholarship has shot his argument in the foot. I would have expected a person of his intellect to have a better application of statistics and would actually know what government India has and has had. As for Rwanda, that place is a mess and using it to argue either way is insipid logic.

  • Spoc Ogden, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 8:45 p.m.

    The comment about 10,000 cars piqued my curiosity.

    Since we are only talking about personal wealth, first place belongs to the Sultan of Brunei with a private collection of somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 cars worth $300 million.Of course with a net worth of $22 billion, his car fetish is small potatoes compared to the employment and philanthropies he sponsors.

    Second place belongs to Harold LeMay who is setting up his 2,000 car collection as a museum that is expected to contribute $34 million to the economy of Tacoma, WA each year.

    Sorry, all you Jay Leno fans, but his measly 100 cars and 90 motorcycles pales by comparison.

    But if aircraft are your passion, try the Evergreen Aircraft and Space Museum in McMinnville, OR. With hundreds of exhibits as diverse as the Spruce Goose, ICBMs, SR-71, a 7 story IMAX, a firearms collection with everything from a Lewis & Clark air rifle to modern weaponry, a 747 water-park, a beautiful woodland chapel available for all occasions, a wooded scout camp, and dozens of educational programs and scholarships all sponsored by the "biggest airline you've never heard of".

    Don't you just love rich people who put their wealth to work?

  • Bubble SLC, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 10:10 p.m.

    @banderson

    Keeping government out of the market like when GW bush turned a blind eye to he banking and housing industries that "free market?"

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Dec. 9, 2013 11:17 p.m.

    Bubble: the banking and housing industries have not been in a free market a long time before you were born.

    The rest of the liberals: If you were more concerned with the 99.9 percent and how to raise their wages, rather than tearing down the wealth of the .0001 percent, I would listen and so would a lot of others. When you spend frivolous time debating increasing the minimum wage, as if raising the minimum wage is going to really help him/her, instead of what will make some long term differences, I will listen. otherwise, you are just playing the part of minion for the rich, as if raising the minimum wage will really hurt them from increasing their already obscene wealth. You are in reality just their perfect spokesmen to anesthetize the slaves.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 6:46 a.m.

    @Truthseeker: "Me:it matters if tou [sic] helped build those cars yet can't afford to feed or educate your children."

    Why would you enter into that arrangement? Surely the Obama Economy can offer you a better job than that. Obama's been president for five years now, and he pivoted to jobs a whole bunch of times. He even focused like a laser on jobs. How can this inequality still exist, with all the hope and change that's been going on?

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 10, 2013 7:36 a.m.

    Spoc
    Ogden, UT
    You wrote:
    "Since we are only talking about personal wealth, first place belongs to the Sultan of Brunei.....Of course with a net worth of $22 billion, his car fetish is small potatoes compared to the employment and philanthropies he sponsors."

    Spoc, the Sultan of Brunei, literally, owns Brunei. Capitalism and self-made personal wealth do not
    apply here.

    On another Note, I found Mr. Bennett's lacking. However, I am very grateful he wrote it and the DN published it. Why? The comments here have made me change my mind about the political and economic perceptions of Utah. No doubt Utah is a very conservative state. However, after reading so many well written responses pointing out Mr. Bennett's inaccuracies I am glad to admit that I was wrong and that thinking and caring is not dead in Utah.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    @bandrson
    Every time we loosen regulations Oman industry that industry ends up costing the American tax payers that iis just reality.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 10, 2013 11:46 a.m.

    @ VST

    You wrote: "George Bush is gone my friend (almost five years ago) – that is old history.There is a new master running the zoo now."

    Yes, GB is gone, but his damaging economic mistakes were quite harmful and deep and is still part of the current history. About a "new master of the zoo", Boehner and the Tea party have created the "No to Obama Cult" and they continue controlling the zoo, I mean, congress.

    The Pope is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mr. Bennett is preaching the gospel of Adam Smith:
    " he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner..., he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other eases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention..... By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it."

    Therefore, we should trust in "an invisible hand" that greed will result in benefit to society.

    I rather trust in the social teachings of Jesus. I will work for me and the community.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Dec. 10, 2013 3:04 p.m.

    "Those who continue to dwell on the history of the past are doomed to die in the past"….

    Gee, I could have sworn it was that those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to relive it. I am not sure how you "make a difference" if you don't know what it is you are trying to be different than….what you are measuring against.

    I do agree you can't let your past dictate your future though….

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Dec. 10, 2013 3:26 p.m.

    @VST
    "Baccus,

    So? What is your point?
    Those who continue to dwell on the history of the past are doomed to die in the past – they will never progress forward to “make a difference” in the current-day world."

    Some mistakes are Oops! moments, others are serious in their impact and the time that takes to mend the error.

    Reagan and Bush Sr.incurred in the biggest deficit in history until then.
    President Clinton left his presidency with a surplus.
    GWB wasted the inherited prosperity of the country by making the same mistakes that Reagan and his father did.

    A house can burn in about an hour. To rebuild that house may take months, a lot of money and personal pain.
    We are still rebuilding the biggest economy in the world. That is my point!!!. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past in order not to commit them again, as GWB did.

    DN what happened with my comment to which VST alluded?

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Dec. 11, 2013 9:23 a.m.

    I am scared. I actually feel myself leaning in the direction of agreeing with Bailout Bob.

  • Doug10 Roosevelt, UT
    Dec. 12, 2013 8:17 a.m.

    As a business owner I am tired of being the brunt of whining masses.

    I enjoy the opportunity this county offers. I apy the taxes that are required of me, pay my employees and other than that I do not need the press saying I am giving all my money to the poor.

    When I make money the prifts stay with my company or are taxed at a rate I choose as I take them out. I also enjoy tax opportunities that others who do not own businesses, such as writing off travel expenses, food expenses, rent and mortgage expenses, trucks and cars. YEs there is a cost to me but it is mitigated by tax options.

    I buy most of everything I need with pre tax income as a business expense. Please do not tell me how my business is worse off for being here. It is where it can make money, companies who are not efficient may make noises and complain and blame government intervention. It is that same intervention that allows me and my company to profit.