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84

Poor as Jobs

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Piketty, T. (2017). Poor as Jobs. In Piketty, T. Chronicles: On Our Political and Economic Crisis. Penguin Books, pp. 84-86

84

In the symbolic realm, moreover, Jobs and Gates embody the figure of the deserving rich, a soothing idea in times like these. We’ve come close to concluding that their fortunes ($8 billion for Jobs, $50 billion for Gates, according to the Forbes magazine rankings) are exactly what they ought to be in an ideal world, and that all is decidedly for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Unfortunately, wealth is not just about merit, and before we succumb to this attitude of reverence, it’s worth taking a closer look at things.

An initial clue: Jobs the innovator is six times poorer than Gates the Windows rentier—proof, perhaps, that competition policy still has some work to do.

Even more irritating: despite all those great inventions, sold by the tens of millions around the world, despite the explosion in Apple’s stock price these past few years, Jobs still accumulated only $8 billion, one-third the fortune of France’s own Liliane Bettencourt (€25 billion to her name), who, never having worked, has made do with inheriting her fortune. In the Forbes rankings (which do everything possible to understate inheritance, through both their methods and the rhetoric surrounding them), we find dozens of heirs who are richer than Jobs.

I get that he's just going for the easier argument here (that the heiress lady clearly doesn't deserve her money) because it's so much easier for the average reader to agree with and not because he thinks either Jobs or Gates deserve their money, but man, he really missed an opportunity there

by Thomas Piketty 1 year, 1 month ago

In the symbolic realm, moreover, Jobs and Gates embody the figure of the deserving rich, a soothing idea in times like these. We’ve come close to concluding that their fortunes ($8 billion for Jobs, $50 billion for Gates, according to the Forbes magazine rankings) are exactly what they ought to be in an ideal world, and that all is decidedly for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Unfortunately, wealth is not just about merit, and before we succumb to this attitude of reverence, it’s worth taking a closer look at things.

An initial clue: Jobs the innovator is six times poorer than Gates the Windows rentier—proof, perhaps, that competition policy still has some work to do.

Even more irritating: despite all those great inventions, sold by the tens of millions around the world, despite the explosion in Apple’s stock price these past few years, Jobs still accumulated only $8 billion, one-third the fortune of France’s own Liliane Bettencourt (€25 billion to her name), who, never having worked, has made do with inheriting her fortune. In the Forbes rankings (which do everything possible to understate inheritance, through both their methods and the rhetoric surrounding them), we find dozens of heirs who are richer than Jobs.

I get that he's just going for the easier argument here (that the heiress lady clearly doesn't deserve her money) because it's so much easier for the average reader to agree with and not because he thinks either Jobs or Gates deserve their money, but man, he really missed an opportunity there

—p.84 by Thomas Piketty 1 year, 1 month ago