5 tycoons who want to close the wealth gap
These advocates point to notions of fairness and admit to twinges of guilt, but the core concern driving all of them — left, right and libertarian — is a belief that the economy doesn't function efficiently when the wealth gap is wide.
"Names like Carnegie, Mellon and Rockefeller — the (Warren) Buffet and (Bill) Gates of their days — grace universities, museums and medical centers in part because the originators of those fortunes gave back," Norton said. "In the same way that some businesspeople are now taking steps to address climate change due to its effects on costs and revenues ... the notion that inequality can be bad not just for ethical reasons, but for financial reasons, is one that is increasingly embraced by businesspeople."
Five billionaires that GET IT, that if average people don't have enough money, they can't buy their products.
Warren BUFFETT: THE BILLIONAIRE PIED PIPER
Buffet advocated for a progressive estate tax before members of Congress, saying in 2007, "Dynastic wealth, the enemy of a meritocracy, is on the rise. Equality of opportunity has been on the decline. A progressive and meaningful estate tax is needed to curb the movement of a democracy toward plutocracy."
Ron UNZ: THE REPUBLICAN WHO FAVORS A RAISE
Frustrated with the gridlock in Congress, Unz is pouring his own money into a November ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage in California to $12 an hour in 2016.
At that level, he said in an interview with The Associated Press, "every full-time worker would be earning almost exactly $25,000 and every full-time worker couple $50,000. Under normal family circumstances, those income levels are sufficiently above the poverty threshold that households would lose their eligibility for a substantial fraction of the various social welfare payments they currently receive, including earned-income tax credit checks, food stamps and housing subsidies."
Unz, whose fortune comes from founding Wall Street Analytics Inc., argues that by not paying a living wage, companies are forcing the government to subsidize them through massive welfare spending.
Nick HANAUER: HELPING PEOPLE BUY WHAT AMAZON SELLS
Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer believes the growing wealth gap threatens the economic system that has given him his wealth.
If no one can afford to buy what he's selling, the jobs his companies create will evaporate, he reasons. In his view, what the nation needs is more money in the hands of regular consumers.
"A higher minimum wage is a very simple and elegant solution to the death spiral of falling demand that is the signature feature of our economy," he said in an interview with the AP last summer.
Steve SILBERSTEIN: THE QUIET ADVOCATE
Silberstein took a step into the spotlight when he produced the documentary "Inequality for All," featuring former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich. It premiered last year at the Sundance Film Festival.
"He's one of the quiet leaders of the entire movement toward wider prosperity," Reich said. "An increasing number of wealthy businesspeople are becoming concerned that the economy can't function without a strong middle class to keep it going."
Silberstein told the AP his views are not so different from that original American industrialist, Henry Ford, who famously paid his factory workers enough to purchase one of the cars that came off his assembly line.
"As a result he became rich," Silberstein said. "If the economy goes well, everybody does well, including the wealthy."
Leo HINDERY: THE TITAN WHO WANTS TO PAY MORE TAXES
The 66-year-old argues that giving rich people tax breaks makes no economic sense because people like him don't put their extra dollars back into the economy.
"Do you think I don't own every piece of clothing, every automobile? I already have it. You spend money. Rich people just get richer," he told the AP.
Hindery credits his Jesuit upbringing with giving him the tools to look beyond his own economic advantages.
"How can we believe in the American dream when 10 percent of the people have half the nation's income? It's immoral, I think it's unethical, but I also think that it's bad economics," Hindery said. "The only people who can take exception to this argument are people who want to get super rich and don't care what happens to the nation as a whole."
More politicians should read this article, to get a hint at what's wrong with the economy.