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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The 99 and the 1

One of the hardest truths to sell is that free markets benefit the 99% and that statist monopolies exclusively benefit the 1%.
Whatever one thinks of the current plight of the 99%, throughout almost all of history, things were much worse for the vast majority of the population. In precapitalist ages, the average member of the economic 99%, if lucky enough to survive infancy, was consigned to a life of back-breaking work and poverty, constantly on the verge of famine, disease, and death.
The only individuals who did not have such a wretched life were the "1%" of old. This economic 1% was virtually identical with the state. It was made up of the French kings, the English lords, the Roman senators, the Egyptian viziers, and the Sumerian temple priests. The members of this elite lived in Olympian splendor: servants at their beck and call, as much food as they could possibly want, spacious homes, an abundance of jewelry, and a tremendous amount of leisure time.
And of course, this lifestyle was borne on the backs of the masses. It was the 99% who produced the bread that stuffed the mouths of the 1%, who felled the trees to erect their mansions, and who mined the precious metals and stones to adorn their bodies.
Everything the Occupy Wall Street protesters say today about the 99% and the 1% was completely accurate then. Wealth in society was a pie of a certain fixed size. The bigger the slice of pie that the 1% took for themselves, the less was left over for the 99%. Every bit of luxury the 1% enjoyed was taken from resources that could have made some member of the 99% less miserable.
Why did the 99% of old put up with the 1% lording it over them? Why did they not rise up, and overthrow their masters? Were they simply cowed by the mailed fists and the flashing sabers?
Read the rest here
Ludwig von Mises Institute 

Judy Morris,
Blogger, THL
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