American Elephants

The End of Despair: Free Market Capitalism and Individual Liberty. by The Elephant's Child

In his classical study of apocalyptic movements in medieval and postmedieval Europe, The Pursuit of the Millennium, Norman Cohn points out that modern revolutionaries picture the coming society “as a state of total community, a society wholly unanimous in its beliefs and wholly free from inner conflicts.” Robert Conquest adds “To envisage a unanimous social order is to envisage the absence of individuality. Utopia amounts to the inflation of the ‘community’ into an entity in its own right, rather than a coherence of individual social human beings.”

The twentieth century has taught us that utopian ideas are a path to despair. There is no perfection because the very possibility is denied by flawed human nature. People carry signs and march for world peace and unity without realizing that they have trouble getting along with all the members of their own families. Witness the Occupy movement that only wanted the 1% to pay their fair share, and ended up with rape and murder and mayhem.

America’s Founders wisely recognized that politics could never be perfected because of flawed human nature. They designed a system with a minimum of bureaucratic and legal control in which disputes could be settled by political debate. Yet many resent the political debate itself. The two sides in Congress should just compromise. Everybody should just get along. This arises from a lack of understanding about the differences between the parties, which are deep and principled.

Liberals have raised compassion to a political principle. They assume that they can move the poor into the middle class if they just redistribute the nation’s wealth to make everybody more equal. But the attempts to give people who cannot afford the payments for their own houses has resulted in disaster for everyone. Attempts to create housing for the poor has most often resulted in ghettos and slums. Not because they are poor, and not because they are incapable, but because you cannot take enough money away from “the rich” to make the poor not poor. And it’s always someone else’s money they want to redistribute.

Thomas Sowell, several years ago  said:

What do the poor most need? They need to stop being poor.  And how can that be done on a mass scale except by an economy that creates more wealth? Yet the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created.  As far as they are concerned, wealth exists”somehow” and the only interesting question is how to re-distribute it.

This is the essence of the problem of the left. Instead of understanding that a rising tide lifts all boats, they want to remove wealth from “the hated rich.” Nevermind that most people don’t hate, or even envy, the rich. Today they are worried about jobs and the economy. Hating the rich isn’t even on the list of concerns.

In America, typically, young people start out poor. Education, hard work, struggle bring them out of the bottom quintile and over time they will move up.  If they save and invest they may do well, even move into the highest quintile. Politicians have even complained about the wealth of some seniors, without understanding that re[resents a lifetime of labor and saving.  If you follow Forbes lists of the richest Americans or richest people in the world, you see that the list, with few exceptions is not the same over time.

Obama’s out again claiming that the government can’t afford not to raise taxes on “the rich.” That the Bush tax cuts for “the rich” are why we are in this depressed economy. The man has no understanding of the most basic economics nor of the most basic history.

Free market capitalism has created more wealth than the world has ever seen before, and raised more people out of poverty than was dreamed of. Milton Friedman, whose birthday today is, famously said:

A society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.

The interesting thing about the left, is the extent to which they excuse themselves from the schemes they dream up to help the poor. Obama regales his listeners with the great benefits ho ObamaCare, and promises that you can keep your doctor if you like him (not true) but their own generous health care plan is excepted from any of the unpleasant changes from ObamaCare. Their pensions will remain untouched. Why it’s just like the rulers of all those countries that had revolutions to create more equality for the poor. Even the Mullahs in Iran have their Swiss bank accounts, and their luxurious homes.

When they start talking about progress and “community” and “redistributing income,”  grab your wallet and run for the nearest polling place and vote the bums out. There is no better world just around the corner.

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