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Monday, December 07, 2015

Inequality and Danger

I recently wrote in a comment that "the three most dangerous types of people, in my opinion, are those with extensive resources, fanatics and those with little or nothing left to lose." The last two groups don't mind and perhaps even welcome death making them difficult to deter. In addition, they can be organized in a fighting and/or terrorist force to the detriment of civilization.

So why do I think that those with extensive resources (i.e. those that are very "rich") are dangerous? They are able to do several things that others cannot including the following:

  • They can build and maintain a network of thugs to do their bidding;
  • They can provide substantial bribes to law enforcement and key witnesses to find them not guilty;
  • They can hire excellent defense attorneys to eloquently argue their case and find every legal loophole; and
  • They can affect the political system, for example getting pardons for their crimes, using their resources.

Even the non-rich can do some of these things to some extent, but there's no doubt in my mind that with greater resources the richer someone is, the better able he is to do those sorts of things.

That's not to say that I think that every or even many rich folk have bands of roving thugs going around murdering people or performing otherwise heinous crimes. I'm only claiming that they can do such things and that makes them relatively dangerous. Just like using fire is dangerous but people rarely get burned by it even though they do occasionally.

So reducing inequality, even it if created even more people with little or nothing left to lose, might reduce the number of dangerous rich people.

18 comments:

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

You sure make that blog comment section a more interesting place.

Let's suppose an international semi-secret organization of such powerful people were united to strength their networks of control and protection. What would that look like?

erp said...

Bret, say it ain't so.

Bret said...

erp,

Which part?

erp said...

The "reducing inequality" part. If we return to a nation of law, people who break the law in any and all income levels will be punished accordingly.

Pace Harry. Yes some people, mostly in your cohort, do and did get away with murder, theft and thuggery, but it's greatly reduced when the law is king.

Bret said...

Clovis,

I think that's the basis for quite a few novels. Seems like I've read some of them. Also there are those who think Bilderberg is such a group. So I guess that's what it might look like.

Bret said...

erp,

Note that I didn't say we should reduce inequality. I'm only saying that there are potentially downsides to inequality and this is one of them.

Hey, every once in a while, I have to write a post that Harry might at least partially agree with, don't I? :-)

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,


Yeah, I surely phrased it in ways any conspiracy theory out there deals with.

But have you thought about the ones hiding in plain sight?

Bret said...

Clovis,

I know I've made it clear that I don't much like the IMF, but no, I don't consider them a conspiracy of rich people.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

That's interesting, considering you once questioned the role of central banking and govt control of fiat money.

If control of extensive resources makes someone dangerous, who have more such control than... bankers?

erp said...

Bret, in my book, you are free to say, do, write, etc. whatever you like and I am free to do likewise and we can have a lively conversation agreeing to disagree if necessary without resorting to name calling and violence. Mind you, I don't rule out sarcasm if it may be required. :-)

In fact, as I pointed out to my kids when they used to ask why "they" had do stuff or behave a certain way when none of the other kids had to, because "it's how civilized people behave." By the time they understood what that meant, they were so used to behaving correctly, they didn't complain anymore.

Anyway there can never be income equality because it's impossible to make people spend their money wisely or avoid spending it frivolously.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

And one further interesting question is, what makes you to suddenly be an outcast of that network of protection?

It is not exactly a customary fact one of the main billionaires od the country to be jailed in a jail with a hole for a latrine and have his hair shaven like any petty criminal around.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "If control of extensive resources makes someone dangerous, who have more such control than... bankers?"

I see. Certainly each rich banker is potentially dangerous. And I agree that to the extent the bankers team up, that could be a worse threat.

Bret said...

Clovis asked: "what makes you to suddenly be an outcast of that network of protection?"

I didn't say that the rich would only be dangerous to the non-rich. They certainly can be dangerous to each other.

I also didn't focus on the collusion of the rich (like bankers) with government. I think that may be the worst danger of all.

erp said...

Clovis, none of the jails here are like the one you describe although some criminals who are deemed low risk white collar criminals have nicer accommodations than the hard core bad guys.

However, one of the times we were in Paris, we stayed at a "hotel" in the Algerian section of Paris that had a hole in floor and the streets were named for the heroes of the Soviet revolution. It's a long story and was only overnight, so we stuck it out.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

----
I didn't say that the rich would only be dangerous to the non-rich. They certainly can be dangerous to each other.
----
They certainly can. What an interesting coincidence, at the same month the #9 richest billionaire of the country goes to jail, the next president of the #2 biggest private Brazilian bank dies in a plane crash .

It is like to be a very rich banker suddenly got dangerous.

Interestingly, only bankers connected to banks that were giving a hand to the present govt. (which is in a process to be ousted by impeachment) are dying or being jailed.

I am sure all the other bankers are much cleaner and honest, so they are safe.

Or it is all just coincidences and my mind keeps looking for patterns where there may be none, it is the curse of the physicist...

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
However, one of the times we were in Paris, we stayed at a "hotel" in the Algerian section of Paris that had a hole in floor and the streets were named for the heroes of the Soviet revolution.
---
Not to be outdone by the Parisians, I will forward to you my complaints about the hotel I refused to stay the last day of my trip to your Florida. It was quite a view too.

To be fair, they at least had no Soviet revolutionaires around.

erp said...

Clovis, on your first comment above: You are confirming my previous comment on the rule of law. Bankers in the most recent "downturn" were crony capitalist/bankers and made money whether the loans/mortgages were paid or not since we taxpayers guaranteed them. The most outrageous example, probably apocryphal -- Bret might know -- it allegedly happened in California -- a farm worker was given a mortgage on a house whose monthly payments were higher than his annual income!

On the second comment, you at least had a booking agent to whom you could address your complaint. We didn't. :-(

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I don't know how that helps, since the booking agent coudn't care less for my complaints.


On bankers, the real problem is not so much the network of corruption and thuggery they facilitate (the banker I linked to, Mr. Andre Esteves, is alledgelly in temporary "preemptory" jail for that), per Bret's initial point, but in our case I believe the "collusion of the rich (like bankers) with government" is indeed the "worst danger of all".

The origin of quite a bit of Mr. Esteves' success and wealth is related to inside deals he had with Central Bank operators and every stripe of Politician. And I am pretty sure he is far from being an exception.