While I was home for Thanksgiving, my dad and I had several conversations about economics that centered around people’s earnings and their rights to them.
I think our issues were largely semantic — we use the word “earned” with at least two distinct senses:
- Exchange of Labor — Bob cleaned the gutters on my house and earned $35.
- Capital Investment — In the last 30 seconds, Warren earned $4718 in the market.
(That’s $62 billion at the historical 8% return from the stock market. Of course all his money isn’t in the stock market, and he likely has less now than he did a few months ago, but the idea’s the same.)
I don’t think that it makes sense to treat these two transfers of money as even remotely similar in terms impact on a person’s life or amount of effort put forth. I don’t really know the terms to use to separate “earning” in investment from “earning” in labor, but I think I would have an easier time talking to my dad if I could create a separation.