Money or Power? Decisions, Decisions!
Arnold Kling at TCS Daily makes an interesting comparison this week, between the power wielded by the wealthiest of the wealthy (Warren Buffet and Bill Gates), and how it compares to the power controlled by relatively low ranking politicians (the county councilmen in the county where I just happen to live).
Montgomery County, Maryland, has an annual budget of $3.8 billion. This sum is under the control of a County Council with nine members. On an average per-politician basis, each County Council member controls just over $400 million a year in spending.To put an annual spending figure of $400 million in perspective, consider this: if you had $80 billion in assets and earned 5 percent per year on those assets, that would give you $400 million in annual income. And nobody has that much. The world’s wealthiest person is Warren Buffett, with $62 billion (admittedly he has often been able to earn more than 5 percent per year from investments). Bill Gates has $58 billion.
But that’s just the money they control. What about power and influence?
Bill Gates might be said to control as much money as a member of the County Council where I live. But he does not have the power to, say, tell the people of the County where they can and cannot smoke, or to tell local businesses what wages they must pay their workers, or to decide whether a local concert venue will be devoted to folk music or to rock.Wealthy people do not control the curriculum in our children’s schools. Politicians do. Wealthy people do not set licensing requirements for everything from doctors to interior designers to hair stylists to manicurists. Politicians do.
Interesting. Not a valid comparison, you say? RTWT, do, to find out what he says about that.
His point? If you think there’s a growing wealth-gap between the poor and the affluent in this country, then you haven’t seen even half the picture.
My take? If you don’t concern yourself at least a little with local issues in the town, city and county where you live, and if you don’t vote, then you’ve given it away for free.