This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell: Fact-Free Liberals. Excerpt:
Someone summarized Barack Obama in three words — “educated,” “smart” and “ignorant.” Unfortunately, those same three words would describe all too many of the people who come out of our most prestigious colleges and universities today.
President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again. Economic equality?
That was tried in the 19th century, in communities set up by Robert Owen, the man who coined the term “socialism.” Those communities all collapsed.
President Obama and various other pols, most (but not all! Oh, no, not all!) on the left side of the spectrum, have been whinging on quite a lot lately about “income inequality.” Dr. Sowell has repudiated the notion in a number of forums, including in his recent work The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy. (I highly recommend it.) The problem with bemoaning inequalities in income or wealth – they aren’t the same thing – are legion, but the most simple refutation is simple. I’ve done so before in these pages, but that post has vanished into the ether, so here it is again.
Let’s say I invent something new, something sure to appeal to a broad swath of the consumer market. My invention, the Super-Kool Hyper-Gizmo, sells in the millions and makes me a billionaire.
Now, where did that money come from? From millions of voluntary transactions, millions of individual people who decided they wanted my Hyper-Gizmo more than the $109.95 purchase price. Millions of voluntary transactions, in which both parties gained value – both parties walked away feeling they’d come out ahead.
Oh, and during the realization of the product, I also employed a few hundred or a few thousand people, and did business with suppliers, shippers, and many, many others along the way. All of these things were again voluntary transactions in which both parties gained value.
It’s the rare pol that understands that, or any matter involving economics. They don’t understand that the economy is not a zero-sum game; it grows.
Now, let’s consider the pols arguing that income inequality is a problem, and that something must be done about it. No matter what the pol claims, no matter what he proposes, all government solutions boil down to one thing: Taking wealth away from those who have earned it, and giving it to those who have not. No matter what the pol’s claims, no matter what the pol’s promises, it must come to that.
And government – government is the only entity that can deprive you of your property without recompense, with the implied threat of force. (Try not paying your taxes and see how long it takes the government to send men with guns out looking for you.) Free citizens, legally, can only engage in economic activity voluntarily. If a citizen takes another’s property by force, that is robbery; if he takes it by deceit, that is fraud.
The proper way to address this issue is through economic growth, but for the last decade or so the Imperial Federal government has been pursuing policies that may as well be deliberately designed to squash economic growth.