Tags: Samuelson | society | distributional | spoils

WaPo's Samuelson: We're Becoming a 'Spoils Society'

By    |   Wednesday, 02 October 2013 08:17 AM

As economic growth slows, we are moving from an "affluent society" to a "spoils society," interested more in taking from others than in creating goods or services, writes Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson.

In the decades following World War II, economic growth promoted spreading affluence and encouraged government spending infrastructure and other public needs. Importantly, that muted social conflict. Gains didn't have to come at the expense of others.

For decades, the U.S. economy grew just over 3 percent annually. Now it's projected to grow about 2 percent.

Editor’s Note:
Add Up to $152,046 to Your Social Security Benefits Using Weird Trick

"What's emerging today is more self-interested and self-destructive," he laments.

The smaller the gains, the more people will fight over wealth and greedily eye what others already have, Samuelson says. Instead of fighting to develop new products, people will fight "distributional battles" that entail attacking or defending wealth.

We are already seeing instances of these distributional battles, he points out.

Oil company BP and plaintiff attorneys are embroiled in legal fights over compensation for damages from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

"The process has been so perverted, says BP, that it's paying 'hundreds of millions of dollars — soon likely to be billions — for fictitious and inflated losses.' Naturally, the plaintiffs' lawyers disagree," Samuelson writes.

Some firms, known as "patent trolls," specialize in suing high-tech companies for alleged infringements. The companies frequently pay what they say amounts to extortion to be gone with the threat.

CEOs are being accused of increasing their pay with the help of compensation consultants. Critics call in it plundering. CEOs call it rewards for performance.

Expect more distributional battles, such as more pressure to raise taxes on the wealthy and the near-rich, Samuelson advises.

The conflicts will diminish production, as many of our brightest people focus on taking others wealth instead of creating new wealth, he warns.

"They are merely rearranging economic assets among themselves. If taken too far, this promises more political division and economic decline."

Government welfare programs involve another distributional battle, argues Shah Gilani, in an article for Forbes. Federal spending on over 80 low-income assistance programs reached $746 billion in 2011, he says. Combined with state programs, spending on these programs totaled $1.03 trillion.

Yet instead of obtaining the money from the wealthy in a Robin Hood fashion, the government took it from the middle class and gave it to the poor as well as the wealthy, he asserts, saying taxes on capital gains are unfairly low.

Editor’s Note: Add Up to $152,046 to Your Social Security Benefits Using Weird Trick

Related Stories:

Nobel Economist Stiglitz: Wealth Gap Causes All of America's Woes

Druckenmiller: Fed Is Making Rich Richer

© 2020 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.


   
1Like our page
2Share
Personal-Finance
As economic growth slows, we are moving from an "affluent society" to a "spoils society," interested more in taking from others than in creating goods or services, writes Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson.
Samuelson,society,distributional,spoils
452
2013-17-02
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 08:17 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 
Newsmax TV Live

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
MONEYNEWS.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved