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Old 08-28-2019, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard Parker View Post
Suppose I invest a million dollars into starting a business, providing the entirety of its capital. But I don't otherwise lift a finger. The business isn't my idea and I don't perform the labor or any management role. What should be my return? What proportion should go to labor? What proportion to whoever had the idea for the business? Those are the actually relevant questions in this thread, since the proportion of return to investment capital is almost the entire ballgame on wealth and the politics of wealth.

I see three principled positions in American political life:

(1) Lefty: we should answer those questions in terms of moral desert, and capitalists don't deserve a significant return on investment.

(2) Liberal: we should answer those questions empirically by asking how much return each of the players needs to get in order to maximize the size of the economic pie without creating a level of inequality that damages society more than the cost of a smaller economic pie.

(3) Conservative/libertarian: we don't need to answer those questions collectively. because people decide it voluntarily.

I am a liberal because I don't think there's any especially persuasive way to get at what each of the people involved morally deserves and because conservatives/libertarians miss the fact that the voluntary arrangements are highly influenced by the choices we collectively make about our laws and our society. So we do eventually have to take a position on the question, one way or another. They just tend to take the position, by default or otherwise, that the people with the most wealth should set the rules and then let those rules play out in predictable ways.
The problem with scenario number 2 is that the economy isnít a system that can be solved to determine what is actually optimal. Furthermore, politicians who run on and advocate positions that resonate with so-called liberalism as you describe it donít necessarily mean what they say.