The possession of private property is very often extremely demoralising, and that is, of course, one of the reasons why Socialism wants to get rid of the institution. In fact, property is really a nuisance. Some years ago people went about the country saying that property has duties. They said it so often and so tediously that, at last, the Church has begun to say it. One hears it now from every pulpit. It is perfectly true. Property not merely has duties, but has so many duties that its possession to any large extent is a bore. It involves endless claims upon one, endless attention to business, endless bother. If property had simply pleasures, we could stand it; but its duties make it unbearable. In the interest of the rich we must get rid of it. The virtues of the poor may be readily admitted, and are much to be regretted. We are often told that the poor are grateful for charity. Some of them are, no doubt, but the best amongst the poor are never grateful. They are ungrateful, discontented, disobedient, and rebellious. They are quite right to be so. ( Oscar Wilde)
You can’t take it with you. Maybe charity does begin at home. Are Billionaires going Pinko? Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have always seemed to hold a pretty strong hand at bridge. The deck may be stacked and they own the house but it may be a privilege and form of entitlement. “Bridge is such a sensational game that I wouldn’t mind being in jail if I had three cellmates who were decent players and who were willing to keep the game going 24 hours a day” (Warren Buffett, Investor and active tournament player) This, the world’s most famous pro-villains put some startling cards on the table by pledging to give their wealth away. Maybe their crystal ball is emitting some dour predictions at unusual frequencies. Or, it may have been a Minsky Moment.
The phrase “Minsky moment” is named after Hyman Minsky (1919-1996), an economist known as a rather pessimistic contrarian during his lifetime for arguing that markets are inherently unstable and long stretches of good times just end in bigger collapses.The Wall Street Journal’s Justin Lahart has a pretty good explanation. At its core, the Minsky view was straightforward:
When times are good, investors take on risk; the longer times stay good, the more risk they take on, until they’ve taken on too much. Eventually, they reach a point where the cash generated by their assets no longer is sufficient to pay off the mountains of debt they took on to acquire them. Losses on such speculative assets prompt lenders to call in their loans. “This is likely to lead to a collapse of asset values,” Mr. Minsky wrote. When investors are forced to sell even their less-speculative positions to make good on their loans, markets spiral lower and create a severe demand for cash,that can force central bankers to lend a hand. At that point, the Minsky moment has arrived. Are Mutt and Jeff jumping ship or following in the tradition of Andrew Carnegie?
Carnegie, an American possessed of nineteenth century grandeur, was a man of contradictions. The wealthiest human being of his time, he was convinced of the merits of poverty in developing character. His vast wealth, produced by the sweat of “the toilers of Pittsburgh,” he returned to the city he loved, to America, to Scotland, to England and to the world. Not a religionist, he yet spoke in spiritual terms when expressing what he hoped his benefactions would accomplish in the world and in the lives of those very toilers whose labor had produced his wealth:
“Man does not live by bread alone.” I have known millionaires starving for lack of the nutriment which alone can sustain all that is human in man, and I know workmen, and many so-called poor men, who revel in luxuries beyond the power of those millionaires to reach. It is the mind that makes the body rich. There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as it sometimes is, it remains Caliban still and still plays the beast. My aspirations take a higher flight. Mine be it to have contributed to the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit, to all that tends to bring into the lives of the toilers of Pittsburgh sweetness and light. I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth. ” ( Andrew Carnegie )