In a really rather snide article describing various technology "moguls" as 'robber barons, a Guardian hack called Naughton has reminded us that the left's myth-making about wealth and success - that it remains trapped within a self-sustaining elite - is utter nonsense. Naughton (without intending so, I'm sure) destroys this fiction in just one paragraph:
What's striking about this is not just the staggering wealth that these people have managed to squeeze out of what are, after all, just binary digits (ones and zeros), but how recent are the origins of their good fortunes. Mark Zuckerberg, for example, went from zero to $17.5bn in less than eight years. Microsoft – the company that has propelled Gates, Ballmer and Allen into the Forbes pantheon – dates only from 1975. Oracle was founded in 1977. Bloomberg turned a $10m redundancy cheque from Salomon Brothers into his personal money-pump in 1982. Dell started making computers in his university dorm in 1984. Bezos launched Amazon with his own savings in 1995. Brin and Page turned their PhD research into a company called Google in 1998. And Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004.
All of those riches. All that success. All the jobs and taxes and investment and philanthropy (plus sadly Mike Bloomberg's ghastly nannying fussbucketry as Mayor of new York) was made possible by these men having ideas, taking risks and winning.
And right now a new generation of Gates', Dells and Zuckerbergs - a new bunch of entrepreneurs - are doing the same. In twenty years from now we'll be talking in the same terms about a load more men and women who have made billions having started with nothing.
The point about free enterprise is that this opportunity - the chance to be a billionaire - is open to everyone. For sure only a few make those millions but the opportunity to do so is there for us all. So next time you hear some left-wing, equality-monger gibbering on about gini co-efficients and whining about how it isn't fair that some folk inherit money while others don't, point them at the paragraph above.
It isn't all inherited privilege is it!