Does a socioeconomic elite class have value to people who aren't in it?

So what have you produced? I think people like yourself and Evil Captor overestimate the value of the labor produced by the lower classes and underestimate the contributions of the business elite. Fact is without the Bill Gates of the world, there wouldn’t even by a job for those thousand of Microsoft employees.

That has nothing, really, to do with the question posed in the OP. Randian philosophy doesn’t require that only an elite minority produce (and therefore deserve to enjoy) the best the world has to offer; indeed, an ideal Randian outcome would be for the rest of society to emulate the example set by the best.

No. All Bill Gates ever did was steal or reverse engineer other people’s software. DOS came from CP/M, Windows came from the Mac operating system, the Windows browser was copied from what is now Mozilla. Many people would be gainfully employed without Bill Gates, probably making more money, too.

First of all, what do you care? It would just be more “elites” getting rich who aren’t you.

And second of all, you have no way to prove that. Most of the products Gates “stole” were sitting useless in some R&D lab and given to him by companies that thought they were useless junk. What tech dorks never seem to realize is that the most clever invention in the world is useless unless you can a) find something practical that regular people can actually use it for and b) convince them to use it.

Why should people have to aspire to financial ideals?

Lots of people don’t. My life isn’t mundane and hopeless because I don’t want to be in the elite class(es).

Perfectly true. OTOH, they could no more produce those products without Bill, or someone like him, than an army could win without generals.

Really? I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, but I have read The Fountainhead. And I get the impression that, in Rand’s world-view, a society composed entirely of Howard Roarks and Roark-emulators would be neither desirable nor possible.

That doesn’t make the general ( or CEO ) personally more productive, or even more important - it’s the role that matters more than the person, usually.

Yes, well not everyone has the ability to fulfill that role.

Besides, it’s very narrowminded and lowbrow to think and terms of personal productivity. Bill Gates’s worth is not in that he can personally crank out more code than anyone else. General Patton was not a great general because he personally killed more Nazi’s than any other soldier in the 3rd Army.

Your concept of ‘productive’ is, as always, interesting. Bill Gates has managed to ‘produce’, in his life time, a company HE founded that has made literally hundreds of billions (trillions?) of dollars and employed 10’s of thousands of workers (making several of THEM millionares in their own right). At the same time through his company he has managed to increase measurably the wealth of this country, make several other people not in his employ rich also, and incidentally provide the means that initially brought the computer to the masses in an easy to use way. While muscular labor basically rode his coat tails.

Seriously you need to re-evaluate your world view some day. No one is saying that labor doesn’t have its place, but it doesn’t do much good if they don’t have a place to work, ken?

I’ve seen the light! You are absolutely correct sir (or mam)! Lets do away with private ownership and have the state control production…putting the means of production in the hands of muscular labor! Gods…it worked so well in Russia after all. And look how the Chinese have slavishly stayed with their system since it was humming right along for them.


Thats why so many other people have managed to do it, toppling Gates and Microsoft from their high perch…right? As for DOS from CP/M and Windows from the Mac…well, leaving aside the fact that Microsoft was founded as an applications software development company (ever heard of Word?), it was Bills vision that got them on the track of the OS. Initially he wanted to work WITH Apple, developing software and OS addons…but at the time Apple wasn’t having anything of it. They had a serious case of ‘Not Made Here’ syndrome, and a monopoly on all software for their OS AND the hardware. Apple made everything…and everything was expensive since they were the sole source.

So Bill decided to do it on his own. And while I’m no big fan of Windows, it DID make things cheaper and easier for your ‘common man’ to buy and use a computer. It and he has had a rather profound impact on society by doing so.

Hell, I’d think you guys would be cheering him as a hero of the people and decrying Apple who really DID have a monopoly and a stranglehold on the market…and were frankly stiffling it at the time. The irony of guys like you defending Apple (as they were pre-Microsoft)…well, its amusing as always. :wink:


Woops! :smack: The last paragraph in my previous post was wrongly identified…it was Evil Captor that wrote that, not Der Trihs. Though their opinions at times are interchangable (just kidding :wink: ), I apologize for mis-marking that.


Why don’t you go for the trifecta and mention Donald Trump?

Oh? Grant was equivalent to McClellan?

I think your problem is that you are only using one dimension of productivity. Gates’ contribution to Microsoft wasn’t his code (though his BASIC interpreter was pretty good) but his ability to snooker IBM into giving him the keys to the kingdom, and his ability to tromp on his customers and not get caught until it was too late. This is quite independent of his ethics, and if the industry is better off with him or without him. You could have replaced almost any programmer with another and see no difference, but I don’t think you could replace Gates.

And your point is what exactly?

However, thanks to our inheritance laws and connections, many people do inherit a socioeconomic class. Do you think George Bush would have as much money if he were George Smith? There is a lot of who you know going around - it might not always make you succeed, but it gets your foot in the door.

I think lots of the elite who got there through parents pretend that they’re there from merit. At that level it is fairly easy to find people who’ll tell you you’re a genius. Some people who made lots of money then screw up - but get another CEO job. Look - if Ken Lay isn’t either in jail or working for McDonalds in 5 years, you know there is something wrong with the system.

Bill is a productive individual from a marketing perspective and insofar as he lined up the combination of previously separate elements into a product that has value.
Bill isn’t an example of an aristocrat or the upper class, though, and I don’t know why he is part of this discussion.
Bill is upper middle.
While his family wasn’t poor, his money comes from something that occurred in his lifetime due to the actions of a company he was controlling. Since he didn’t do it with his dad’s money, he is not part of the true upper class.
His children, though? Well, assuming they acquire his fortune, they may wind up being upper class or better. If that money stays in the family it is quite likely his grandchildren will fit the definitions for those other categories.

I don’t know if I buy that. He’s not some blueblood from Newport who grew up with family money, but is certainly not upper middle class. At the very worst, he could be considered nuevo riche.

In any event, I’m not up on what cultural distinctions, if any, exist between people who have always had money and those who acquired it through their own success.

I have to disagree with you here. The nouveau riche are the very upper echelons of the middle class. They are to the upper middle class what the upper middle class is to the rest of the middle class, but they’re still middle class.

(Of course, given that we’re talking about large groups of people here, there will be exceptions. Still, if you want to make a generalization, this is the one to make.)

Bingo. That was exactly what my adjunct lecturer said in Sociology 1000, and what I was trying to get across.

You take Fussell seriously? His book has “Humor” written on the spine. He says that class isn’t a matter of wealth or ancestry(or at least not wealth and ancestry alone), then gives examples that are all wealth and ancestry. For no good reason he comes up with “Class X” for those that doesn’t fit into the other classes, but which conveniently contains Paul Fussell.