From another ongoing thread:
Wikipedia tells me that Bill Gates has a net worth of around $61 billion. Two questions:
(1) Has his net contribution to humanity been in proportion to that?
And (2) does the answer to question “1” govern in any way the question of whether Bill Gates “deserves” his money (if you’d care to explain how you define “deserve”).
My answers are (1) probably so, even outside of his charity work, and (2) not really. I can’t imagine a world without easily accessible computers, and even if Bill Gates’s vision has fallen short in a number of ways, it seems pretty clear to me that he kicked in the door leading to the world we live in now. And (2) as long as investors were not misled and willing to reward him in this way, and as long as people were willing to buy his products without coercion, then how on earth can you say he doesn’t deserve every nickel he’s got? The same would be true if he earned his money in real estate or (gasp) managing a hedge fund. As long as there’s an even playing field and a reasonable level of transparency, investors may feel they are better off paying someone a large salary than not.