Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the podium this afternoon to deliver a commencement address to Harvard graduates, taking the opportunity to bring the issue of wealth inequality to the forefront of the young minds of his audience.
Zuckerberg pointed out that his own path in life was partly based on opportunities he was afforded when he was younger, such as having the free time to learn computer coding and not worry about having to support his family. He could take the risks involved in building and launching Facebook, while knowing that he had something to fall back on if he failed. His story is like that of many young Americans, but not all.
For this reason, following his sharing of his own story, the 33 year old billionaire pushed for increased government intervention in order to maintain a strong safety net for everyone. Facebook wouldn’t exist if Mark hadn’t had the opportunities he had. Who knows what other great leaps forward the world is missing because the potential is squandered.
“Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract.”
According to Zuckerberg, “We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”
Yes, that’s right. Don’t measure GDP – measure “happiness” and “satisfaction” – measures that are 100% purely subjective. Does he live in reality or in a children’s Disney movie?!
Unfortunately, Zuckerberg fell for one of the oldest economic mistakes in the book. It is the difference between good economists and bad ones. It is looking solely at the seen and immediate effects of a policy on one group, instead of looking at unseen and long term effects on everybody.
When a young person is given a government guaranteed student loan to attend college, Zuckerberg can SEE that student getting an education. What he doesn’t see is what happens when that loan is “forgiven”, thereby forcing the cost on taxpayers who never even attended college. He doesn’t see the increase in demand for college education, which is the primary cause of the rise in tuition.
He can see it when a person is given a “universal basic income” – they have a roof over their head and food in their stomaches. What is unseen are the jobs that no longer exist that would have enabled that person to provide those things for themselves.
Let’s make one thing very clear – Mark Zuckerberg is a talented computer programmer, who (as even he admits) got lucky. He is not an economist, and the ideas he espouses belong in the land of make believe. The fact that he is giving such a foolish speech to Harvard graduates shows what a degree from Harvard is worth nowadays.
[See also: Gates Exposes Himself as an Economic Ignoramus]