Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spread the wealth

On a national level, the idea that wealth should be shared and spread around so that everyone can benefit seems likes a moral thing to do. However, it flies in the face of human nature. We are not the same. Our talents are all different. Our strengths and weaknesses are different. Our ability to adapt and prosper differs. This is why capitalism works better than any other system. It allows for all of this and actually enhances individual productivity. At the same time, seeing as we are all different, it only stands to reason that some would actually prosper in a more hostile environment, such as a dictatorship or a centrally planed economy. It would only be reasonable that they would see less freedom as being good because it IS good for them and the skill sets they posses. I am afraid that I have known some personally. Spread the wealth would fit into their skill set very well.

An extreme example:

Everyone has heard about the ‘mountain man’ who hoards food and water and medical supplies as if the world economy is going to sink tomorrow. I don’t know any personally, but I would imagine that they would have to spend a fair amount of money. I would also think that they would have to spend a fair amount of energy and time planning. The items would take up space, so they would have to provide for this as well.

Lets say that a famine or natural disaster occurs that disrupts enough of the area to actually begin starvation and all of the disease that are the direct result of starvation. In the military, in those situations an accounting is held and all supplies are accounted for and allocated based upon apparent need. What about the civilian sector? Would the government have the right to go into this ‘mountain mans’ home and/or property and take what it deems the man does not need for the betterment of the rest of the people?

Historically, since the foundation of our country, the answer would have been ‘NO’! But ‘spread the wealth’ ideology would insist that everyone should get an equal chance to eat. But what about the fact that this guy lived for years as a laughing stock and gave up time, energy and resources in the effort to protect himself from something like this? Capitalism would say that if this man has any extra, he would be well within his rights to sell off any excess at any price he can get. Heck, he can even burn it all if he wanted to.

This is the crux of the balance of freedom of economy and political freedom. “Spread the wealth” sounds like the ‘level the playing field argument’. It sounds like a good thing to do. However, it is easily turned into a source of power. I suspect that more people are motivated here for political and personal gain as opposed to some noble cause. This is precisely why capitalism works better than ANY other economic system devised by man. It channels the drive for gain into productive and constructive endeavors. Government does not do this nearly as effectively or efficiently. Government is a ‘one size fits all’ that will not go away when installed. “Spread the wealth” is another term for ‘destroy wealth’ because that is what it ultimately does. Some do benefit, but the majorities are out of luck, just like the old Soviet Union.

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