Matthew Yglesias, in rare form, identified a fundamental partisan divide in a blog post today. One that I completely disagree with.
Becoming obscenely wealthy in the business world and then hoarding your money is, itself, morally wrong.
I’m not very knowledgeable in formal moral philosophy, and not nearly as knowledgeable as Matthew…but I’m sure that there is a formal construct within which you can draw this logical conclusion. Perhaps “Rawlsian equality”? I’m assuming Matthew wouldn’t simply take “god” at his word on this one…Of course it easily follows from this statement that the government does, in fact, own your wealth…and can compel you to give it up for any means it desires, especially if it is deemed that your level and use of wealth is “morally wrong”.
I find that to be complete nonsense, and rooted deep within the nonsense is a fundamental misunderstanding about what money is, and how it works. I wonder if Matthew would like Blankfein to divest the portion of his wealth that is in government securities? Maybe he would like everyone to do this? Or perhaps he believes that Blankfein has all of his money in cash, in his basement, and he just makes cash mountains and swims in it — in which case, he should probably stop blogging about financial regulation.
I think the likely excuse is that this is how Matthew really feels, something for which he doesn’t need an underlying framework — it just “feels wrong”, or “he knows it when he sees it”.
As I said, I don’t agree with the statement. Just my two cents, but this seems like the major divide between Yglesias and Me.