Broken Social Feedback: The Wealth Gap is an Experience Gap

Money is a psychological phenomenon.  It has no reality in and of itself.  Take a dollar bill to the US Treasury and demand payment for the “debt” it represents.  In effect they will hold a mirror to your face.  You want payment from us?  All that’s in that piece of paper is you – your faith, your trust, your desire to have more of those dollars, yours and everyone else’s.  It is little wonder that money becomes a projection screen for so much that rattles around in our psyches; and nowhere more so than in politics.

Consider a picture that appeared in the Wall Street Journal last week.  It shows Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, sitting together on an L-shaped couch.  At their feet is a coffee table, leather top, strewn with snack plates, playing cards, a folded newspaper, and underneath, a laptop.  (You can guess whose.)  Persian rugs are on the floor, credenzas by the wall.  The two are in shirtsleeves, Gates has one socked foot up on the table.  Just two guys kicking back and enjoying the special kind of moment that only the world’s two richest people could understand.


Subsistence and the Commons

Southern planters faced a major dilemma after the Civil War.  Not only had they lost their slaves; now many former slaves refused to work on the terms the planters offered. … More