The Fallacy of Wealth Redistribution

octubre 30, 2008

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel or envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.Winston Churchill


The Fallacy of Wealth Redistribution


Periodically I receive a newsletter from a vintage mid-century art glass dealer. For the most part the newsletters contain interesting and useful information (although the content of all newsletters is somewhat self-serving) about vintage mid-century Blenko glass. (Check the Blenko Glass Museum at The website contains a wealth of information and great photos of exceptionally beautiful free blown glass pieces.)


However, his latest newsletter, mainly about a successful show in New York, The Stella Modernism Exhibition at the Gramercy Armory, where the dealer exhibited many of his vintage modern glass pieces, contained the following disquieting statement with regards to the state of the present US economy:


“I can only hope that this correction (meaning rich people losing millions due to the present crisis) will lead to a more equitable distribution of wealth – more to the middle, less to the top.”  Words in parenthesis are mine for clarification, derived from the context of the statement.


I could not pass the opportunity of commenting on it, particularly because we have a presidential candidate, Barack Obama, who believes and preaches the fallacy of  “a more equitable distribution of wealth” for Americans. Government has gained unprecedented power over the banking industry. Socialism has been coming for several decades now, particularly making its way through our public education system. Today we have appearing before our very eyes the real and ominous specter of socialism in the United States of America: our country being led by a president with an agenda of social and political justice pursued through the “redistribution of wealth”. It should not only send shivers down our spines, but it should also make every American who believes the free market is the key to economic growth and prosperity very angry!


 I e-mailed my comments to the glass dealer, who no doubt is knowledgeable about art glass, but relatively young and inexperienced, apparently misguided philosophically and politically, and quite intolerant and cocky when it comes to dealing with differing points of view and criticism. Following is what I shared with him:



Just the other day I was having dinner with my wife at a very nice restaurant we go to regularly; I decided to put into practice this very old principle of “wealth redistribution”. As always, we received first class service from everyone in the restaurant, particularly from the waitress, a mother of two elementary age children. After we finished our dinner, our bill came out to $80.75. I consider myself a generous tipper, meaning that my gratuities are at least 20 percent, most of the time up to 25 percent. That meant a $20.20 tip.


 Across the street from the restaurant sat a homeless man on a buss stop bench. We could see him from the outside terrace where we were dining that afternoon. I decided to “redistribute my wealth more equitably” and give the homeless man half of the $20.20 tip. When the bill was brought to me by the waitress I explained my “redistribution of wealth plan” to her and what I was about to do. She had been our waitress on many occasions. She is an exceptionally nice lady. Let me tell you she was not a happy camper. Here’s a woman who, three years earlier, arrived from a communist country where the wealth and everything else for that matter was taken and redistributed by the government (mostly to themselves). Only the governing elite, the high ranking officers of the communist party in that country have wealth and privileges the common people don’t even have access to. She left her native land because even the most basic freedoms were taken away by a totalitarian regime that promised, among many other things, the “equitable redistribution of wealth” and the end of poverty. The wealth was redistributed. Businesses, land and everything else was taken from their owners and nationalized. “Now”, they said, “everything belongs to the people.” Most of the rich left the country with very little of nothing. The totalitarian government elite became the new and only rich class in the country, and just a couple of decades later, a nation that in the past had a strong and growing middle class, was reduced to one of the poorest nations on earth. Today, except for the governing elite, nobody has anything.


The waitress said: “The homeless man did not serve your food. He didn’t work for this tip, he does not deserve it. That is pure unadulterated socialism.” And she was absolutely right! She added, “I did not come to this country to have my hard earned money given to people who did not work for it.”


Of course, I gave her the $20.20 tip. By the time we left the restaurant, the homeless man was gone.


Under a communist or socialist regime, where “wealth redistribution” is practiced (at least at the start, when there’s wealth to redistribute), you would not be able to have the wonderful capitalistic vintage modern glass business you have today, unless you become part of the government elite.


While we’re on this subject, let’s start practicing what is preached in the above statement: Begin redistributing the Blenko Glass pieces you have for sale on your online business “more to the middle, less to those on the top” who are the ones willing and able to purchase your pieces. In other words, start selling them for half the price to be “fairer” to the average middle class glass collector or enthusiast. You would not do it. Not if you want to have a business and make money. I would not do it either. I don’t believe anybody in its right mind would. It is a preposterous idea! Anyhow, who am I to tell you or anyone at what price to sell your merchandise or to whom to give your money to? At least that is what most business people believe in a free and capitalistic country. You want to make as much money as you can from any business, that is why is called a business, and yours is a very capitalistic one at that, not a charity organization or a welfare program. Soon you would not have a business following this socialistic principle of “wealth redistribution”. As a regular business practice, the redistributive economic model would be disastrous for families, for businesses and for the economy of a nation.


When speaking about socialism, Winston Churchill said it well: “Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”



Guido F. Castellanos








Are You an Art Snob?

octubre 22, 2008

Free Blown Floor Decanters (28″ to 37″ tall) from 1958-74, made by Blenko Glass Company and designed by Wayne Husted and John Nickerson.

Blue Dream, Guido F. Castellanos, Abstract digital art

The art snob should always remember the medium does not create the art, the artist does.                                                                    

 Are You an Art Snob?

Snobs are everywhere. They have always existed. Some are more easily identified than others. However, in today’s post we want to concentrate on the Art Snob (or the Snobbish Artist). We will be concerned with two questions: 1) Can you identify an Art Snob if you came face to face with one? 2) Are you an Art Snob? defines a snob as “a person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding this field: a musical snob.”   

“A snob, guilty of snobbery or snobbism, is a person who imitates the manners, adopts the world-view and apes the lifestyle of a social class of people to which that person does not by right belong. A snob is perceived by those being imitated as an “arriviste”, perhaps nouveau riche, and the elite group closes ranks to exclude such outsiders, often by developing elaborate social codes, symbolic status and recognizable marks of language. The snobs in response refine their behavior model.”

A more concise definition of a Snob would be “one who affects an offensive air of self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste or intellect.” 

Artists, as Caroline Ferdinandsen says, “are often strange, pretentious and hyperbolic people”. She goes on to say that “superiority—or even the flimsy illusion of it—is a nasty thing when it keeps us from dealing gently with our fellow man.”  

From all the information I’ve gathered, and from my own experience, Snobs are insecure people. When someone is genuinely an authority, that person does not treat others with disdain nor has a patronizing or condescending attitude.

Are you an Art Snob? Here’s how you can tell if you are. 

1) You are an Art Snob if you are not gracious and tolerant of creativity in whatever form it takes. According to Derek R. Audette, “the entire ‘my art is better than your art’ thing really gets under my skin. The fact of matter is: Your art IS better than my art…at being what it is. So what? If just so happens that my art is better than your art, at being what it is.”

I have a free blown glass collection from four important American glass designers from the Blenko Historic Period (1947-74): Winslow Anderson, Wayne Husted, Joel Philip Myers and John Nickerson.  The pioneering work of these four exceptional glass designers is extremely important to American culture. The work of the first two designers (Anderson and Husted) basically paved the way for the Studio Glass Movement, and Joel Philip Myers was a founding member of the Studio Glass Movement.

One particular artist told me, with an arrogant and disdainful attitude, that he did not like glass, meaning that he did not consider glass as a legitimate medium for creating beautiful art. If this is not art snobbism at its worst, I don’t know what is. 

2) You are an Art Snob if you paint in oils and believe you are better than or disdain the artist who paints in watercolor, acrylics or uses the computer to create digital art. Digital art began in the 90s with the accessibility and proliferation of the personal computer. It will take time for its acceptance as a legitimate medium. History teaches us that it will take years, sometimes centuries, for new mediums to become accepted. Watercolor, used by Albrecht Durer in the XV century, was not accepted in England until the 1700s. In the USA, watercolor was viewed as a sketching tool until Winslow Homer came along, used it and popularized it as an authentic medium in the XIX century. What about acrylics? Acrylics came along in the early 50s, with the emergence of plastics. Today digital art is fighting for its place as a legitimate art medium.  Early digital prints were not of high quality. However, today that is no longer the case. The use of six colors in Giclee printing produces much better results than four color lithographs. When printed in acid free paper, giclee’s will last for many decades.
3) You are an Art Snob if in a home, as Russell Lynes says in Snobs (1950), “you take a quick look at the pictures on the walls, quick but penetrating, as though you were undressing them. This is followed either by complete and pained silence or a comment such as ‘That’s really a very pleasant little water color you have there.’”

4) You are an Art Snob if you consider that other people’s opinions about art are not valid because they don’t have your skills, knowledge or expertise on the subject.  There are snobs that even consider themselves infallible when discussing certain art subjects. The art snob believes he or she possesses additional senses or insights that “ordinary” people don’t posses, which allow for exclusive appreciation of a work of art.

5) You are an Art Snob if it bothers you when people use the term “style” when referring to the work of an artist or to your own work (a fine artist, in the words of the snob), instead of “approach”. The art snob, or the snobbish artist, will inmediately correct you and tell you that an illustrator has a specific style; however “a ‘fine artist’ reacts and approches subject matter”.  Wow! Want to meet a self-righteous and  opinionated jerk? Let me introduce you to the Art Snob! 

Dick Van Vector, in his article titled Top 10 Characteristics of an Art Snob, writes that an Art Snob, among other things, wears a black turtle neck and tight jeans to the gallery, loves or hates French Art, is a wine expert, is a Kandisky expert, and gazes critically and unimpressively at any comtemporary work of art in a gallery.  

Guido F. Castellanos