At the risk of disagreeing with Ramesh about something other than child tax credits, I nominate this for best sentence in that dopey Mark Bittman column:
And since wealthy people don’t spend nearly as high a percentage of their incomes as poor people do, much wealth is sitting around not doing its job.
Apparently, Bittman is one of those people who believe that people with lots of money keep their money stuffed in mattresses or piled high in a counting room, Scrooge McDuck-style, rather than investing it, Mitt Romney- and Warren Buffett- and millions-of-ordinary-Americans-with-IRAs style.
Say you are Joe Gazillionaire. What could you do with your gazillions that would satisfy an American progressive? The options are:
1. Invest the money successfully. In that case, the Left will denounce you as an evil, wicked, 1-percenter profiteer. So, no.
2. Invest the money poorly. In that case, the Left will denounce your losses as a scandal, and demand new regulation to prevent such risky behavior in the future. So, no.
3. Spend the money, which is what Bittman seems to think best. In which case, the Left will denounce you for your self-indulgent lifestyle, with car elevators and whatnot. So, no.
4. You could give away tremendous amounts of money in the service of causes dear to your heart. In which case, you’ll be denounced from the floor of the Senate by Harry Reid. So, no.
Each of those options comes with an invisible asterisk, of course: unless your name is Clinton. In that case, you can profit from dodgy investments, use investment losses as a cover for odd and possibly illegal personal activity, sport a wristwatch collection worth far, far more than the typical American family’s net worth, and get into bed with despicable characters in the course of operating a creepy and self-aggrandizing family foundation.
The thing that eludes Bittman et al. is this: Bill Gates, Mitt Romney, Warren Buffett, and John Rockefeller did more good for the world in the course of making money than they did in the course of giving money away. No investors means no modern civilization — simple as that.