Wealth creation, and the rich vs. the poor

I frequently witness what seems to be typical conversations between a socialist and a libertarian.

The socialist might say: "67 people own more than the world's poorest 3.5 billion!" The implication being that the wealthy people are stealing from the poor.

The libertarian might say: "And that's okay, as long as wealth is created, not stolen!" The implication being that for the most part, the poor need to create their own wealth.

The libertarian is partly right. Wealth is created.

The problem is that the process of wealth creation will be increasingly out of reach for the average person, and is already out of reach for most people on the bottom of the ability curve. The way we're headed, we're going to end up with a population that's not able to contribute significantly to the wealth creation process, and without a social safety net, they end up being destitute.

However, this same population will still have voting rights. And guns.

Something does not compute. ;)

Now, the harsh way to react to this would be to say "Tough luck! Sucks to be you who can't contribute, I still can!" and let people live in poverty while hoping they don't use their votes to confiscate your property, or their guns to rob your ass.

But an enlightened way to react to this is to realize that automation will only increase in scope, not shrink, and that our own ability to make useful contributions may dwindle or disappear if someone invents a sufficiently advanced AI. It would behoove us to recognize that we may all end up being economically irrelevant, and therefore not extend harsh treatment to those who are simply becoming economically irrelevant sooner.


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