by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In 1989 then prominent computer maker Tandy released the Tandy 5000. Though the poorest of today’s poor would haughtily turn their noses up to the 5000 today, at the time this “most powerful computer ever!” was rather expensive. Try $8,499 (mouse and monitor not included) expensive. Nowadays one can buy a brand new Hewlett-Packard computer that’s exponentially more powerful than the 5000 for $200 (no monitor needed, mouse included) at Best Buy, not to mention computers that perform quite a bit better for not much more at any Apple Store or at Dell.com.
The nearly $9,000 “most powerful computer ever!” came to mind while reading New York Magazine writer Eric Levitz’s latest “damning indictment of capitalism.” What has Levitz worked up is that the richest 1 percent have increased their wealth to the tune of $21 trillion since 1989. To say that Levitz lacks nuance, or feel when analyzing numbers, brings new meaning to understatement. The simple plainly confuses Levitz. We know this because simple explains soaring ‘1 percent’ wealth: thanks to technological advances hatched by 1 percenters past and present, the strikingly talented can meet the needs of more and more people around the world. So shrunken by technology is the world in the figurative sense that it’s almost as though Jeff Bezos lives next door to all of us in terms of his abilityt to serve us.
After that, as a look at just about any wealth list from 1989 would make clear to the mildly sentient of today, the “1 percent” at the end of the 20th century’s penultimate decade in very few instances resemble the 1 percent of today. With wealth, the team picture is constantly changing as innovators of the present replace yesterday’s. The previous truth explains why what gives the ultra-sensitive Levitz anxiety is in fact a sign of immense progress. Thank goodness the “1 percent” have seen their wealth increase $21 trillion. It’s a logical signal of rising living standards for everyone, not rising poverty as Levitz laughably concludes.