Monday, November 19, 2012
Monday, November 05, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Monday, October 01, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
You know I've never met one person who is for sharing wealth who would ever share a dime. - Jane, a commenter at JOM.
Indeed. But why? Yuval Levin has a nice article in the latest NRDT in which he points out that progressivism includes the intent to eliminate civil society, which includes sharing the wealth via private charity. It does this by arguing that if you're in favor of sharing then you agree that the government should transfer wealth from the rich to the poor and take over all social functions held by the institutions of civil society, so as to ensure these functions are performed by law. Indeed, any function of civil society worth doing should be relinquished to the government to make sure it is done and made available to all, equitably. The civil society vanishes, and all that is left is the individual and the state, where the individual's entire life is reducible to functions of the state in which he partakes. He loses his individuality. He no longer can assemble a life of his choosing by piecing together those elements of the civil society which appeal particularly to his inclinations and talents. He does as he's told, just as everyone else does, by bureaucrats who do not know him.
So, the non sequitur "You're in favor of giving to the poor, so you must support the welfare state vision of progressivism" is not only a powerful tool to confuse muddle who aren't prepared to notice its fallacy but also a weapon wielded against civil society. "Sharing" has nothing to do with it, nor does welfare.
Moreover, civil institutions which individuals create reflect their values, are chosen by them, and are meaningful to them. They have the marks of very specific backgrounds from which they emerge. They reflect and contribute to ways of life which have a history. When these institutions are created by government they are generic and devoid of specific marks and reflect no ways of life at all, embody only a distant bureaucrat's values if any values at all, are chosen by few who want to partake of them, and are meaningful to no one. Meaning gone, all that is left are work, government, private pleasures and private prayer.
So, the government can't even take over the civil society and run it. The progressive's welfare state, in requiring the subsumption of civil institutions by government, requires the demise of the civil society. There isn't room for both in human life. They are competitors. The asymmetry in this competition is that a healthy civil society can tolerate a healthy and functioning government, one small in size, but a welfare state cannot tolerate a healthy and functioning civil society because a civil society that is small is not healthy or functioning. The welfare state must eliminate the civil society but civil society tolerates government (and even needs government.)
The larger the share of GDP the government has the smaller the civil society becomes. That's just math. You can't wriggle out of that. When you move up from 15% to 25% and beyond to larger government shares of the GDP, you begin to squeeze the institutions which make for meaningful lives out of existence. The same math which fiscally dooms the progressive budget also dooms civil society. You can print or borrow money for a while to cover up this math but sooner or later you must face it. The welfare state destroys civil society and also itself.
You can't have prosperity and poverty reduction while confiscating capital from private industry. You can't have enormous tax revenues while making it impossible to amass capital in private business. You can't maintain a welfare state while maintaining a rich civil society. Inasmuch as a healthy society requires prosperity and a functioning civil society, the progressive's welfare state is a mathematical and economic impossibility. This does not entail that there are no progressives do not realize this and earnestly wish for prosperity, the welfare state and civil society to coexist. But it does entail that the others are totalitarians and care nothing about anyone's welfare but their own.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
It's the argument that since a successful businessman required the assistance of others in the form of an infrastructure and a labor force, he is not entitled to the wealth he created for himself. It's as poor as all the other arguments for leftism.
We all get the infrastructure and labor force. They are an opportunity open for all to use. Some of us work hard and apply brains in using this infrastructure, creating wealth for themselves. Others do not.
Those with the wealth pay for most of the bill for the infrastructure and labor force. Others do not, many paying nothing at all for it, while still retaining the same opportunity to use them as anyone else.
The Marxists' latest attempt at argumentation falls into the catch-all category non sequitur. It simply doesn't follow from the fact that we all jointly provide the infrastructure and labor force that therefore the wealth someone creates by using these is not his property.
You and I create a street between our houses. Afterwards I create a taxi company and make a good living using it. Meanwhile, you play tiddly winks and gaze vacantly at me driving my cab up and down the street. We use the street about equally, and I pay almost all of the bills to fix the potholes. You express your envy. I suggest you create a cab company or use the street as a runway for a small airlines or teach roller skating lessons on the street or whatever. I even offer to hire you to drive my cab (meanwhile, I am employing your cousins who are enabled to support their families.) You say "Hmph!" and return to your tiddly winks. At the end of the year you send some men with guns to extract 50% of my earnings. They call themselves "IRS".
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
You've been hoodwinked for about 150 years.
People who covet absolute power need to trick you into giving it to them, unless they take it from you at gunpoint.
The most powerful trick in the book is to make you believe that they will protect you from being subjected to tyranny if you give them power and relinquish your independence and freedom.
I am on your side. I will protect you from the tyrants who only want to subject and enslave you, to hoodwink you out of the fruits of your labor and to deprive you of your prosperity. I need you to entrust to me the responsibility to provide for you and regulate your life so that they cannot harm you. This will be costly, so I need you to fund this endeavor. It will require enormous power, so I need you to allow me to have it. Together we can fight the good fight.Sound familiar? If you believe this propaganda, then you will oppose the alternative to increasing centralized government authority: liberty. You will take yourself to be doing this for the sake of liberty and in opposition to tyranny. You will propel a tyrant to power in the confused belief that this is the way to prevent tyranny.
There are two possible results. The first possibility is that of a powerful elite with enormous wealth and power ruling over impoverished and powerless masses. Sound familiar? It's the Old Regime. The second possibility is that in order to keep you hoodwinked the tyrants will have to pay you off so that you don't hit the skids so abruptly that you wake up from your confusion. But the money won't last and bankruptcy will come sooner or later. For Greece it comes sooner, with several U.S. states, the U.S. itself, and certain European countries making their way towards the precipice at various speeds.
Consider the various leftwing figures of the last 100 years, from the most brutal to the most effete and seemingly benign, from Stalin and Hitler to the various current American politicians of the left and their cronies. You will find only hard tyrants and soft. None has been on the side of liberty. The are the Old Regime of the last 1000 years. You have been hoodwinked.
The new regime is liberty. The Old Regime will not die easily and will even masquerade as the opponent of the Old Regime and the friend of liberty in order to secure its power. It's actually quite simple and easy to see through.