Rule Five Inequality Friday

2016_06_03_Rule Five Friday (1)From Townhall, here is Larry Elder on a topic I’ve devoted a few virtual rants to – “inequality.”  Excerpt (my comments interposed):

Is there a more brain-dead concept than to empower the government to fight “income inequality”? What sane, normal, rational human being thinks that human talent, drive, interests and opportunity can — or should — result in equal outcomes? 

This is a major flaw of redistributive politics; they seek to equalize outcomes.  No two people are equal, and outcomes will never be equal without outright oppressive government regulation.  The only equality that is appropriate for government to enforce is equal treatment under the law.

Despite my love of athletics, I knew in third grade that my friend, Keith, 2016_06_03_Rule Five Friday (2)could run much faster than I could. For two years I played Little League ball, and I got better at it. But no matter how hard I tried or how many hours I spent, I could not hit, run or throw as well as my friend Benji.

Later in life, I started playing tennis, and I became quite passionate about it. But most of the people I played against had started playing years earlier, and most had taken lessons for years. I got better, but given my competitors’ head start, the gap remained.

And the same applies to every field of human endeavor.  I would love to be as successful an author as Tom Clancy, but Tom was just simply better at writing fiction than I am.  In all candor I think my stuff is pretty good, but Tom was a master, and he was paid accordingly.

Financial planners advise clients to start early and stick to some sort of game plan. Is there any wonder that those who do so will have more net worth than those who started later, or who lacked the discipline to follow 2016_06_03_Rule Five Friday (3)and stick to a plan? How is government supposed to address these “unequal” outcomes?

By taking property away from those who have produced or earned it and giving it to those who have not, obviously; just listen to the candidates of the political Left, and this is the root of every policy they propose.

Most entrepreneurs experience failure before hitting on an idea, concept or business that makes money. Even then, it takes 20 to 30 years of long hours and sacrifice, along with occasional self-doubt and a dollop of luck, to become a multimillionaire.

Speaking as a serial entrepreneur myself, I can and do eagerly attest to this.  I have started a dozen or so businesses.  Of all of those, only two – a small publishing company and my current consulting business – have ever returned a profit.  I’ve always held to the idea that failure is life’s way of telling you to work harder, and that’s been key to my own path.  2016_06_03_Rule Five Friday (4)Success is at least 90% persistence.  Some have that, and some don’t; but it is inconceivable that those who achieve success by their own effort should be required to subsidize those who do not make a similar effort.

But this is precisely what the Sanders team wants us to implement as policy.

Elders concludes:  Communism, collectivism and socialism rest on the same premise — that government possesses the kindness, aptitude, judgment and ability to take from some and give to others to achieve “equality.” Karl Marx wrote, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” And that’s the problem. The statement implicitly acknowledges that some have more aptitude, drive, energy and ability than others. To take from some and give to others reduces the initiative of both the giver and the givee.

2016_06_03_Rule Five Friday (5)This is the fundamental flaw with income redistribution, the very foundation of communism, socialism and collectivism. One would think that Bernie Sanders would have figured this out by now. But wisdom among 74-years-olds, like outcome, is not distributed equally.

But here, Elders misses the primary point.  Equality of outcome – the kind of equality that is eagerly sought by the loony old Bolshevik and his followers – is incompatible with liberty.  You can have free people, free markets, free minds or you can have equality of means (enforced by government.)  You can’t have both.  I have my own two guiding principles for public policy, the two that override every other consideration:  Liberty and Property.  Redistributive policies fly in the face of both.

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