Monday, October 19, 2015

George Will highlights socialist economic stupidity

George Will has some uncomfortable home truths for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.  (They apply just as much to Hillary Clinton's campaign as well, of course.)

Today’s Democratic Party is frozen, like a fly in amber, in the New Deal preoccupation — but with less excuse than Democrats had during the Great Depression. The party believes that economic inequality is an urgent problem, and that its urgency should be understood in terms of huge disparities of wealth. Neither proposition is (to use the term Jefferson used when he wrote equality into America’s catechism) a self-evident truth.

The fundamental producer of income inequality is freedom. Individuals have different aptitudes and attitudes. Not even universal free public education, even were it well done, could equalize the ability of individuals to add value to the economy. Besides, some people want to teach, others want to run hedge funds. In an open society, rewards are set not by political power but by impersonal market forces, the rewards of which will differ dramatically but usually predictably. Beyond freedom’s valuable fecundity in producing unequal social outcomes, four other facets of today’s America fuel inequality.

First, the entitlement state exists primarily to transfer wealth regressively, from the working-age population to the retired elderly who, after a lifetime of accumulation, are the wealthiest age cohort. Second, big, regulatory government inherently exacerbates inequality because it inevitably serves the strong — those sufficiently educated, affluent, articulate and confident to influence the administrative state’s myriad redistributive actions.

Third, seven years of ZIRP — zero-interest-rate policy — have not restored the economic dynamism essential for social mobility but have had the intended effect of driving liquidity into equities in search of high yields, thereby enriching the 10 percent of Americans who own approximately 80 percent of the directly owned stocks. Also, by making big government inexpensive, low interest rates exacerbate the political class’s perennial disposition toward deficit spending. And little of the 2016 federal budget’s $283 billion for debt service will flow to individuals earning less than the median income.

Fourth, family disintegration cripples the primary transmitter of social capital — the habits, mores, customs and dispositions necessary for seizing opportunities. When 72 percent of African American children and 53 percent of Hispanic children are born to unmarried women, and 40 percent of all births are to unmarried women, and a majority of all mothers under 30 are not living with the fathers of their children, the consequences for the life chances, and lifetime earnings, of millions of children are enormous.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is doing well, if not good, by reducing the debate about equality to resentment of large fortunes. He should read Harry G. Frankfurt’s new book “On Inequality”. It is so short (89 pages) that even a peripatetic candidate can read it, and so lucid that he cannot miss its inconvenient point: “It is misguided to endorse economic egalitarianism as an authentic moral ideal.”

There's more at the link.  It's well worth reading in full.

Matt Walsh, the conservative/religious gadfly, has his own perspective on the problem.  Reviewing the first Democratic presidential candidate debate, he had this to say.

It’s comforting to project all our anger onto politicians. Lord knows, they deserve a fair amount of it. However, the difficult reality is this: America’s biggest problem is its citizens, not its politicians. Indeed, its politicians are a symptom, a reflection, of its people. They may manipulate and coerce and propagandize, but when it comes down to it, in a democratic system, if a bunch of lunatics and scoundrels are in power it’s because the people chose to put them there. The sickness originates, then, with the people. And the people’s sickness is rooted in the soul.

. . .

With the frazzled Muppet from Vermont leading the way, all of the candidates (except Jim Webb, who apparently stumbled into the wrong debate) spent the first several minutes complaining about “income inequality.” This was a theme they’d all return to incessantly throughout the evening, because there’s nothing more exhilarating than listening to old rich white people complain about old rich white people. Bernie Sanders lamented again and again that the “middle class is collapsing,” but never expressed any interest in seeing us poor middle class folk move up and out of the middle class. For Sanders and the rest of them, the “middle class” should be all we peons aspire to. Success and wealth ought to be solely possessed by the left wing ruling class. Wealth is evil, you see, so that’s why we should let our great and generous protectors carry the burden.

Middle Class! Inequality! Greed! Middle Class! Inequality! Greed! I can’t really blame them for shouting socialist catchwords all night. This is what their voters desire. They don’t desire capitalism, because capitalism means opportunity and freedom, and opportunity and freedom mean hard work. Economic freedom is so unpopular among liberals that Bernie Sanders openly disavowed it to the sound of roaring applause. Clinton was hesitant (for now) to fully label herself a socialist, so instead she said she’s a sorta-capitalist who thinks “capitalism has to be saved from itself.” This is another way of calling American people children who need to be rescued by benevolent bureaucrats, but that’s OK because Democrat voters fervently wish to be treated like children. They want their own failures and struggles in life to be the fault of “the rich” and they want a president who will magically make it better.

. . .

Naturally, nobody ever explained how a country with $18 trillion of debt and over $127 trillion of unfunded liability might manage to suddenly become Santa Claus for 320 million Americans and illegals. Indeed, along with “liberty,” the phrase “national debt” was never uttered. And if they weren’t going to explain how the government would start handing out full ride scholarships, paid vacations, “living wages,” and free medical care to every human being who happens to exist within our borders, they certainly wouldn’t attempt to explain why.

Again, more at the link, and also worth reading in full.

If any one of these bozos is elected to succeed President Obama, I suspect the New York Post's opinion that "America is due for a revolution" may come to pass, and sooner rather than later.  One wonders whether any of the Democratic candidates have even heard of, let alone read, Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings".  I suspect they need to read it . . . urgently.



Quartermaster said...

Kipling is simply a patriarchal apologist for an old imperialist regime. I'm shocked that you would suggest the product of such a sensible realist as good reading material for the left. /sarc

C. G. R. said...

I always wondered how these guys would like to live under their "dream" regime, but not as part of the ruling class, just the average Joe... I think they would very quickly start complaining about inequality of representation (since they would not be part of the system) - at least until the next evolutionary step of this type of regime, where they would get their asses kicked for "fomenting trouble in paradise"... They should start reading Orwell and Huxley and Soljenitzin as well as talk with people with some experience in living in such a system. I'm truly sick of these kind of idiots, with the obvious idea that the government must guarantee not "the pursuit of Happiness", but to somehow "guarantee Happiness" for everyone. They don't seem to want to acknowledge at the living examples of such society model failures (North Korea). They just seem to think that "hey, these guys had the right idea but they were not smart enough like us to make it work". This translates to Einstein's quote: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".
The problem is even worse, since these guys are just a bunch of generations of such idiots which led US to where it is now - in an amazingly similar situation as the Roman republic before it become the Roman Empire. Only the world is a much more dangerous environment than Europe half a century before Christ...

Anonymous said...

I've heard the 'tax the rich' for so long, its like a part of my life. No one considers that it is discrimination, taxing a certain group of persons because they have money. Replace the word 'rich' with 'old' for example (hey, they've had twice as long to get their money :^) or 'minority' (they already resent the majority - might as well make hay while the sun shines). That changes the sentiment, doesn't it.

I think the flat tax is about as fair as it gets, not perfect but the self made successful person shouldn't be penalized for being intelligent. Isn't it funny - we tell people to go to college, become successful and make lots of money so we can tax them when they do.

Uncle Lar said...

Sadly, it appears that for far too many of our citizen voters their math ability is limited to 1, 2, 3, many. Thank you public school system. So when they see a national budget expressed in trillions of dollars their natural reaction is that enough to give them their heart's desires can't be even a drop in the bucket. That multiplying that by the millions drains that bucket to the bottom simply does not register.
Bernie and Hillary are shamelessly buying votes with the promise of free stuff. Why not, it's worked before. But wasn't it Thatcher who famously said, "The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other peoples' money."

Joe in PNG said...

Another problem is what I like to think of as "Magic Europe"- this is that magical place that only exist in the minds of the American Left. A wonderful place where Socialism works perfectly, and there's no gun violence or inequality or stuff, and you can like totally get legally baked!

C. G. R. said...

Hey Joe, for Europeans there's no such thing as "magical Europe" - I can tell, I'm living in Germany. Actually we're confronted with some of the same problems here: I'm paying higher taxes because I have higher income in order for the government to finance hell of a lot of "social programs". The problem with this is that these so called "social programs" are of the type where people are getting used to get fish every day so they don't see a reason to learn how to fish...