Poverty? Is that something you can eat?

25 Oct, 2012 at 20:28 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | 3 Comments


RICHARD EPSTEIN: What’s good about inequality is if, in fact, it turns out that inequality creates an incentive for people to produce and to create wealth, it’s a wonderful force for innovation.

PAUL SOLMAN: Aren’t many of the top 1 percent or 0.1 percent in this country rich because they’re in finance?

RICHARD EPSTEIN: Yes. Many of the very richest people in the United States are rich because they are in finance.

And one of the things you have to ask is, why is anyone prepared to pay them huge sums of money if in fact they perform nothing of social value? And the answer is that when you try to knock out the financiers, what you do is you destroy the liquidity of capital markets. And when you destroy the liquidity of those markets, you make it impossible for businesses to invest, you make it impossible for people to buy home mortgages and so forth, and all sorts of other breakdowns.

So they should be rich. It doesn’t bother me.

PAUL SOLMAN: Are you worried that a small number of people controlling a disproportionate share of the wealth can control a democratic system?

RICHARD EPSTEIN: Oh, my God no. 

PBS-interview with libertarian professor of law Richard Epstein


  1. “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”
    John Maynard Keynes

  2. Creative people create, it is what they do. People like Epstein need an incentive to create, or do anything at all it seems. Should we continue to let the least imaginative lazy people create and control the system?

    • “The coalition believes that the rich must be made richer to encourage them to work and the poor must be made poorer to encourage them to work. …” (Lord Eatwell – Labour)

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