Craig Newmark is, for those not entirely au fait with this internet business, the guy behind Craigslist. He’s very rich from having been so and he wonders whether he should be:
Craigslist founder Craig Newmark: 'As a nerd, I don't know why I need a billion dollars'
The answer being that you don’t need a billion dollars Mr. Newmark. No one does. But we’re absolutely delighted that you do and will defend to that last ditch your ability to keep it if you so wish. On purely pragmatic grounds.
As William Nordhaus has pointed out entrepreneurs gain perhaps 3% of the value created by their innovations. Near all the rest flows to consumers. The only way that these people are getting rich is by delivering far greater value - in aggregate - to us out here. We think that us getting richer is a good thing therefore stand by the arrangements which make us so.
And that’s it. There isn’t anything about fairness or justice in this. The reason the last set of entrepreneurs are left with Scrooge McDuck like mountains of cash to surf down is so that the next generation get to work to make our children even richer. No other justification is either necessary nor righteously used.
Economics is, famously, amoral. This being one excellent example of that point. We’ll even put up with an awful lot of rentiers and inheritance to keep that entrepreneurial show on the road for that is the very engine of increased prosperity over the generations.