Paul Graham on Wealth

I enjoy almost every essay that Paul Graham writes, and his recent one on wealth was no exception. He sounds quite libertarian… the speech is reminiscent of Francisco D’Anconia’s money speech in Atlas Shrugged. A few highlights:

People like baseball more than poetry, so baseball players make more than poets. To say that a certain kind of work is underpaid is thus identical with saying that people want the wrong things.

With the rise of the middle class, wealth stopped being a zero-sum game. Jobs and Wozniak didn’t have to make us poor to make themselves rich. Quite the opposite: they created things that made our lives materially richer. They had to, or we wouldn’t have paid for them.

In the section titled “The Lever of Technology” he uses a number of examples to make an interesting point. When people talk about “the gap” between the “middle class” and the rich, they’re usually talking about income. However, there are other gaps that are much smaller than they used to be, especially general lifestyle attributes (cars are cheap/available, etc).

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