Analysis of the socialist mindset
The intellectual bankruptcy of the left, part IV
Rumors of Wal-Mart's demise are greatly exaggerated
I'm continually amazed that middle class, educated, young people who, on the face of it, are among the most privileged on the planet develop such jealousy of others' wealth.
Was there some personal tragedy in their lives that colored their outlook? Or had they truly been brought up in an intellectually bankrupt environment and thus just repeat the prejudices instilled in them by their elders? Or do they have a personality which requires a pat "Let the government fix it!" answer to complex social issues and thus latch onto the first authority figure that they come across that provides this?
These days many have chosen Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the model for social and economic organization. Others have chosen Keynes to provide their moral framework, while others have picked Krugman to provide the foreign policy framework.
Clearly it is a result of having passed through the school system, which is a period where critical thinking is never taught. Whatever the reason, the results are predictable and tiresome. Thoughtless arguments, catch phrases in place of opinions, ad hominem attacks and stereotyping.
This is too bad, because these people are in charge of society, and their superficial understanding of how the world should work doesn't inspire hope that intelligent solutions will be forthcoming to society's continual problems.
"Tax the rich" is borne of nothing more than jealousy; it is pointless and thoughtless. Rather than blathering on like this, take some time and learn about the real world. Read some history and see how the themes of today have recurred many times in the past and that the only times the people (that means you, me and everyone else) came out ahead was when government was quashed.
Try the books of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand for a start.
I have to admit something: every last italicized word was utterly vacuous tripe. So, it's a good thing that all I did was take what our socialist visitor posted the other day and replace a few words. If you look closely, you'll see that I also corrected verb conjugations and added a few necessary punctuation marks. In his meretricious claim to seek honest discussion, he demonstrated a less-than-complete command of the English language.
It's a testament to the intellectual bankruptcy of the left that their arguments are so generic, so vapid, that you need only change a few words to change their position completely. Remember Bill Clinton's cameo in "Contact"? That only demonstrated that the president can say anything, and it's so fundamentally meaningless that you can take a piece and apply it to whatever you want.
What single word in any of Bobby's arguments at all refuted what I had said? I'm still waiting for his proof that Wall Street is abandoning Wal-Mart, let alone his ridiculous notion that "traders and hedge funds" are the ones who control stock markets' direction. And like most other socialists, when persistently rebutted with actual fact, he said he's "done" with my blog after his rhetoric proved inadequate. Boo hoo, he's taking his marbles and going home. Hear that? That is the sound of the door hitting him on the way out.
"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Rejoin socialists' claims with sound logic, and they will flee. My warmest thanks to Billy, Mike and Shamus: when the day comes, I look forward to standing with you.
Why do socialists believe the way they do? It's an irrelevant question: for whatever reason, they've come to depend on and extol government as the solution. It comes down to the expression that "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Government is the socialists' hammer: they cannot conceive of any solutions to society other a new government policy or program. Ironically, they claim believers in the free market, like me, give simplistic solutions, when as Don Boudreaux explained, "To recommend the market, in fact, is to recommend letting millions of creative people, each with different perspectives and different bits of knowledge and insights, each voluntarily contribute his own ideas and efforts toward dealing with the problem."
I critique the efficacy of government because if we, imperfect as individuals, cannot make the proper and best decisions for ourselves, then how can government be any more competent, discerning and successful, since it is comprised of us? There's nothing magical about going into public service that suddenly makes a person always seek the best for "the public good" (a concept I don't believe exists at all). James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock's contributions to public choice theory were especially important for revealing politicians and bureaucrats as self-interested when it comes to public policy as they were in the private sector.
I don't believe in Wal-Mart, or any business. I do believe in capitalism, which is predicated on the free market. The free market is simply where people are be free to reach their own agreements with each other, where no one has the right to force either party against their will. Liberals, though, believe that people are too stupid to make their own decisions, insisting that we need a government to "coordinate" our efforts, determine what is "fair," and keep us "safe." Again, though, government is comprised of people who are still imperfect beings.
Why should I defer my own decisions to another imperfect person who cannot possibly be more aware of my personal circumstances than I? Why should I trust someone who, as history proves time and time again, is hardly going to look out for me any more than he'll look out for himself and special interest groups? "Oh," the socialists counter, "but he is less imperfect than you. Elections are about determining who are the best among us, so that they may guide our collective efforts." Is that so? One look at Ted Kennedy makes me wonder just how imperfect every Massachusetts voter must be, and I don't know too many Utahns from my 14 years there who'd be much worse than Orrin Hatch.
As Bastiat, my patron saint, declared in The Law, "God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies." The same God who gave us the unalienable rights to life, liberty and property also gave us sufficient faculties to recognize and use them at our own discretion. Bastiat declared at the end of The Law that "liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works," therefore you are denying God's wisdom if you give up your liberty so that others may govern your life. I, for one, would rather make my own mistakes instead of someone making potentially worse mistakes for me. And if I harm no one but myself, then like Christ's reply when Peter asked if John really wasn't going to die, "What is that to thee?"
But socialists like Bobby, as bastiat explained, want to play God with society: they form an idea of how things ought to be, then set about reforming society. They justify their intentions by pointing to the past and claiming their "liberal" policies have bettered society. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some time ago, I asked and answered the question, "What hath the free market wrought?" Well, what has it? Nothing that liberals accuse of it, i.e. child labor, slavery, pollution, the Great Depression. I will be charitable and excuse any liberal for ignorantly believing that the free market at all influenced the first three. However, I will forever say that any liberal is a damned fool if he believes the free market had anything to do with the Great Depression.
Just as the free market is not guilty of these accusations, "progressive" government policies are hardly responsible for any disappearances of child labor (which occurs only when societies prosper beyond a point where they starve if children don't help), the emergence of the 40-hour work week (again the natural result of a prosperous society that no longer must toil from sunrise to sunset), and things like insurance (partly because of how firms compete for employees, and partly because of government tax policies that make it cheaper to offer $5000 worth of insurance than another $5000 in pay). Liberals, though, are confused by the logical fallacy called cum hoc ergo propter hoc: they assume that because these things occured during the expansion of "progressive" government, these things occurred during that expansion. In fact, like the government-borne economic woes in South America that Paul Krugman foolishly blamed on the free market, these things occurred despite anything government did.
What about my job in corporate compliance? Am I not receiving pretty good pay only because government has reined in big business, requiring them to be responsible to their clients? Actually, think of how compliance analysts like me, or accountants, or lawyers, would have better jobs if the firm didn't have to employ so many of us in capacities that generate no revenue. My job would probably still exist in the same way, I think, since my firm prides itself on having the toughest ethics standards (far beyond what the SEC requires). Regardless, the firm's managers (and their subordinates) are more than capable of determining on their own, without a government body telling them, whether or not they need me. They can make determinations based not so much on what the owners (shareholders) say, but what our clients say. Or do, if they bring new business to us, or take their business elsewhere.
Similarly, I need no government to create a job for me, to determine what my "fair" wage is, to determine what is the most optimally nutritious food for me to eat, or anything else that involves me and just me. Do you?
Look at the entire world. Which countries contain the most peaceful, the most moral, and the happiest people? Those people are found in the countries where the law least interferes with private affairs; where government is least felt; where the individual has the greatest scope, and free opinion the greatest influence; where administrative powers are fewest and simplest; where taxes are lightest and most nearly equal, and popular discontent the least excited and the least justifiable; where individuals and groups most actively assume their responsibilities, and, consequently, where the morals of admittedly imperfect human beings are constantly improving; where trade, assemblies, and associations are the least restricted; where labor, capital, and populations suffer the fewest forced displacements; where mankind most nearly follows its own natural inclinations; where the inventions of men are most nearly in harmony with the laws of God; in short, the happiest, most moral, and most peaceful people are those who most nearly follow this principle: Although mankind is not perfect, still, all hope rests upon the free and voluntary actions of persons within the limits of right; law or force is to be used for nothing except the administration of universal justice.What Bastiat wrote still holds true 156 years later, yet despite the decades of evidence of tyranny and fallen empires, many still cling to the idea that government can create prosperity by interference.