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Samizdata quote of the day

The world’s billionaires are a pretty diverse bunch, but nine out of the top ten are self-made entrepreneurs.

Jon Miltimore

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Bell Curve

    That doesn’t fit the leftist narrative 😛

  • It has been reported that the most common qualification of those who have become immensely rich in our lifetimes is an engineering degree. It might be thought surprising (we likely all think first of a hand-count of computer/internet geeks or soros-types – and the article’s list supports this) but if the wealth-cut-off level is widened then the claim has been made (I have not checked it).

  • Fraser Orr

    @Niall Kilmartin
    It has been reported that the most common qualification of those who have become immensely rich in our lifetimes is an engineering degree.

    Perhaps I am wrong, I think the most common qualification is those who started an engineering degree but dropped out before finishing to start their company. Gates, Ellison, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Wozniak, and if I’m not mistaken (which I could be) Page and Brin dropped out of their PhD program at Stanford.

    One might speculate that engineering degrees attract the kind of people who go on to great success, but the degrees themselves don’t necessarily contribute to that success.

    FWIW, I don’t actually think that is true, but it is an interesting interpretation of the data. It is also worth pointing out that this phenomena may very well be an artifact of our time. People like Carnegie, Rockerfeller, Grovesnor and Morgan were not engineers.

  • bobby b

    “That doesn’t fit the leftist narrative”

    Sure it does. Remember, progressives think of Al Capone as a self-made entrepreneur.

  • Snorri Godhi

    This could be fitted into a Marxian narrative — taking Marx very loosely.

    The Rich used to be mostly people who owned the most land, when land was the crucial factor of production.

    With the Agricultural Revolution, land became less important; and with the Industrial Revolution, capital became more important. At that point, The Rich were the people with the most capital sensu stricto (excluding land and human capital).

    Now labor has become the most important factor of production. But The Rich do not get rich from manual labor: they get rich from a specific subset of intellectual labor. That is what Marx failed to foresee.

  • Roué le Jour

    Gates’ major at Harvard was law.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I came to realise that the left have Wealth and Tax the wrong way round, where Wealth is considered a zero-sum game and you can only become wealthy by taking it from other people, whereas Tax can be infinitely accumulated because of the existence of vast quantities of very rich people.

    The common qualification is more likely to be of people who worked hard, took a risk and won big, history does not record those who lost out.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Speaking of Trump*–

    –Who has both lost out (so it’s said, though others say No, when he “lost” he got out in time and the companies went bankrupt) and won big (who may or may not have used some methods I deplore, but he wouldn’t be the only one!, and the Great Frog bless Vera Coking, who stood her ground against Trump and Bob Guccioni of Penthouse, whose offer of 4 x Trump’s she’d already refused)–

    At the very least he’s keeping us True Blue Natives (those of us who are in the Anti-left/Progressive/Alt-Right contingent) from getting TOO restless. Can’t say the same for his effect on the dingbats whom we are “Anti-.”


    Runcie’s remark brought the example of the President to mind:

    “The common qualification is more likely to be of people who worked hard, took a risk and won big, history does not record those who lost out.”

  • Johnathan Pearce

    A point that should be pointed out to “you didn’t build that” Barack Obama.

    I can recommend Yaron Brook’s and Don Watkins’ book Equal is Unfair, which demolishes the kind of collectivist arguments the quotation presumably has in mind.

  • That is what Marx failed to foresee. (Snorri Godhi, December 8, 2019 at 7:41 pm)

    That is one of the things Marx failed to foresee. 🙂

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall corrected me:

    That is one of the things Marx failed to foresee.

    Indeed! what i had in mind was: Marx’s other failures were the consequence of his failure to foresee that the economy would move on from heavy industry. (That is not meant as a sneer at blue-collar workers who vote for Trump, btw.)

    But i admit that i did not give much thought to this.

  • Quentin Stephens

    What proportion of those billionaires had educated parents?

    What proportion came from stable families..

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly most of those 9 men either give large sums of money to the left – or push far left newspaper (for non commercial reasons).

    For example the creator of Amazon may know that most articles in the “Washington Post” are both absurd and evil (I very strongly suspect he does know that), but that did not stop him buying the newspaper and using his support of it to make himself acceptable to the left.

    Or he THINKS backing the left means they will give him a pass.

    The Duke of Orleans, who financed the French Revolution, thought the same – it did not work out too well for him.

    “Nike was founded by a gym teacher with a waffle iron”.

    Yes – and now it produces its stuff in sweat shops in China and elsewhere, and used the profits to back DEATH TO AMERICA types such as Colin Kaepernick – the admirer of “Che” and Castro.

    Somehow the heart warming story of the create businessman creating a vast enterprise has gone wrong – it did NOT use to be like this,

    Most (yes MOST) large scale American business enterprises give large amounts of money, on the “Social Responsibility” doctrine taught in modern business schools, to far left groups – including groups controlled by Marxists.

    It is much the same in Britain.

  • Niall corrected me: (Snorri Godhi, December 9, 2019 at 1:49 pm)

    Niall saw an opportunity to mock Marx, and could not resist. 🙂

    What I had in mind was: Marx’s other failures were the consequence of his failure to foresee that the economy would move on from heavy industry. (Snorri Godhi, December 9, 2019 at 1:49 pm)

    Like much Science-Fiction, but far less entertainingly, socialism tries to be with-it and futuristic and to ‘move with the times’ – so goes where time goes, into the past. Many an SF book can be dated – e.g. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale’, whose appendix’ references to the commander’s “computer printouts” tell you when it was written as surely as its statement that the soviet union still existed and shared with the US the status of being a “late 90s failing empire”. 🙂 Similarly it would be easy to date Marx theory from what it predicted.

    Failed predictions by egotistical stupid people all share this quality of dating themselves by their content, not just their language. There were things about human beings, never mind the means of production, that Marx failed to see – and so failed to foresee. I guess thinking that all thought was a byproduct of the mode of production came naturally to him.

  • Paul Marks

    No Karl Marx’s other failures were NOT the result of him having failed to see that the economy would move on from heavy industry.

    Firstly “moving on” to a Credit Bubble (“financial industry” funded by the funny money subsidies of the Central Banks) “economy” is NOT a good idea – and 2008 was only a warning (sadly a warning that was ignored – governments and the big banks have just carried on their madness).

    But also it was clear by the time that Karl Marx died, 1883, that his basic theories were nonsense. Not only had David Ricardo’s Labour Theory of Value been utterly refuted by then (indeed many economists had never believed in the theory – they did not need Carl Menger and co to come along in the 1870s and refute it), but also the basis of theory of Karl Marx, that wages and conditions of work would get worse and worse leading to a revolt, had been shown to be utter nonsense by 1883 – wages and conditions of work were clearly getting BETTER not worse.

    That is why “Imperialism” had to be thought up as a “reason” that wages and conditions of work were getting better not worse – but “Imperialism” was NOT the reason (as can be seen by wages and conditions of work in countries that did NOT have empires – and whose trade was not with “lesser developed” parts of the world).

    Karl Marx was just WRONG – “period” as the Americans say. It has nothing to do with the development of “new markets” or the move away from “heavy industry” – his theories were just WRONG.

    By the way this is why I find the 1891 Encyclical by Pope Leo XIII so incredibly frustrating – by 1891 it was clear that the socialist case was nonsense, but in the very first paragraph of the Encyclical of 1891 Pope Leo XIII essentially concedes (or half concedes) the socialist case – he talks of large scale private industry having led to impoverishment when (in reality) wages and conditions of work and of life were getting BETTER – not worse.

    The first paragraph of that 1891 Encyclical (which falsely talks of rising poverty – and, bizarrely, also falsely talks of rising moral degeneracy, as if 1891 was more “morally degenerate” than 1791 or, 1691 or 1591, or 1491) is just wrong – and the corpus of “Social Teaching” as regards ECONOMIC POLICY that has been built upon this false foundation (from Pope Leo XIII to Pope Francis) is wrong – it is harmful. And that is not an anti Catholic point – as the “mainline” Protestant Churches also trot out endless absurdities and fallacies which disregard basic economic truth. As do many atheists.

    There is no good substitute for truth – and most modern “intellectuals” (whether religious or secular) disregard truth, they disregard truth utterly as regards economic reality.

    And when the Credit Bubble economy finally comes crashing down, as eventually it will – they (the “clever people”) will say “this shows the failure of capitalism” when it shows NOTHING OF THE KIND.

    Just as rising inequality in recent years is NOT about “capitalism” – it is about Credit Bubble ism – as Richard Cantillon pointed out three hundred years ago, Credit-Money expansion tends to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor (even after the boom-bust has occurred).

    There is no reason why lending should not be entirely from REAL SAVINGS – the actual sacrifice of present consumption. The “monetary cranks” (Keynes and the present inhabitants of the universities) are just as wrong as Karl Marx (who at least was not a monetary crank) was wrong.

    “But we want to lend out more money than Real Savings – or redefine the term “Real Savings” so it includes our book keeping tricks – it is all for the needs-of-trade”.

    Bleep, bleep, bleep-bleep.