Letter to the Editor: Fiction and falsehoods

George Roof’s letter to the editor (DSN, 2/17) “Green New Deal a ‘socialist guilt trip’” contained a lot of innuendos, a large number of falsehoods, and several misleading remarks. In this limited space I shall be able to explain just a few.

Roof says “Trump has been right…the media is the greatest threat to our country.” On the contrary, DSN has generously given appropriate space to a range of opinions from its readers, including Mr. Roof’s right-wing opinions.

It seems to me that mainstream media has been pretty fair since I was a kid in the middle of the last century and continuously since then right up to now. The problem is in right-wing reader bias that only accepts right-wing ideas as “normal.”

Another falsehood is in the detail about the 10 billionaires that Mr. Roof named and talked about. I checked on the Internet and found that six of the 10 that he named are not billionaires. They all had a lot of money but none had anywhere near a billion dollars.

Roof conveys yet another falsehood by connecting wealth to “endurance and dogged determination.” He is right to say that “Most billionaires … had to work to get there.” But that statement conceals the statistic that some 20-25 percent of all wealthy people receive their wealth by inheritance or other arrangements with relatives and not hard work.

Roof also leaves out the fact that the majority of people (two-thirds to three-quarters) who start companies and work hard actually fail (within two years) to reach their goal to become wealthy. In analytical studies published in business journals, the causes of business failures are very often beyond the control of the entrepreneur.

Lastly, Mr. Roof presents the idea that billionaires are some kind of super-hero of society. This is very questionable. There is an old saying that “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.” One example that most people should remember is Enron. Massive profits were woven out of thin air by accounting fraud and zero hard work or endurance.

The economic history of white collar crime is: 1) a very large area of study, 2) well referenced in textbooks on criminology and many monographs on corporate corrupt practices, 3) covered in business media such as The Wall Street Journal, and 4) is a bigger fraction of the economy than most people realize.

Arthur E. Sowers

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