Saturday, December 02, 2017

Dalio's look at wealth inequality

Ray Dalio, the hedge fund billionaire who runs Bridgewater Associates, has in the past always kept a low profile.  Little known outside of the investing world, he manages a  ton of assets and he does not seek attention, talk to the press, or advertise his fund.  Recently that has changed as he looks at his legacy.

He is speaking up about the danger of wealth inequality in this country.  His way of framing the issue is one of "the 40% who have and the 60% who don't."  Those in the 60% have little to no savings, significantly less education, and less access to regular health care than those in the 40%.  He sees the negative aspects of this inequality being magnified in future years.  There is nothing stunning in his view.  What is interesting is his public interest in this issue.

In its own way, this could more constructive than focusing primarily on the 1%, as has become common in the parlance on this issue today.  To not coin a phrase, the 1% have always been with us.  Today the wealth they control is as large as it was in the gilded age and in the pre-depression 1920's.  Yet the more alarming measure of this inequality now is the percent of people who are getting by as lower middle class, or those on the edge of poverty living from paycheck to paycheck with no savings, and those who are unequivocally poor.  The 60%.

Some could say that Dalio wants to deflect from the 1% as he is a prominent member of that tribe.  Why break from his silent norm to do that?  It is preferable to think that he wants to highlight the issue due to a belief that a long term healthy economy requires more balance and the maintenance of opportunity broadly, opportunity that includes access to the basics of food, healthcare, and education. 
Talk is cheap, as is this phrase, but the idea espoused needs to permeate our politics today.  It is a crucial time to speak up.  Trumptime needs leaders from all fields to stand up for intelligence and equity.  That is not elitist.  It is in everyone's self interest, and it is the right thing to do.  Remember Davy Crockett.

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