I guess that if you want to be rich and still well-liked, you need to be the iconic head of a well known brand that people have an emotional attachment to. In all the (well deserved) tributes to Steve Jobs, including from the redistributor-in-chief, I never heard one person say that Jobs didn’t pay his “fair share” of taxes (except for my tongue-in-cheek rant below). In Jobs’s case, just bringing us neat gadgets and movies was enough.
But what about the men and women that bring us the more mundane things in life? We may not love their products the way we love our i-Pads, but we depend on them every day. I’m talking about the things we actually need, not the toys Jobs brought us to entertain us.
From concrete to car parts, soap to string beans, people are getting rich supplying us with all sorts of life’s essentials. Don’t they deserve to be rich too? Why does Jobs get a pass from class envy rhetoric, whereas these anonymous heroes are routinely demonized for their efforts?
I love rich people. People who get rich in a free market do it by making people happy. The richer they are, the more happiness they have brought us. As in Jobs’s case, any taxes they pay is icing on the cake. The real benefit we derive is in the things they did to get rich.
Of course none of this applies to anyone who has gotten rich from the government. Those who got rich with the help of bail-outs, subsidies, sweetheart government contracts, or regulations that keep out competitors are no better than the hoodlum who shoves a gun in your face. Worse actually. At least the gunman doesn’t pretend to be taking your money for your own good.