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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6337/restoring-dignity/

Restoring dignity

March 5, 2007 by

How do you restore the dignity supposedly missing from our capitalist society? According to the socialists at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), you restore dignity by having one group of Americans thieve from another, and you have government arrange the transaction. Where is William Graham Sumner when you need him most?

According to EPI’s latest briefing paper A New Social Contract: Restoring Dignity and Balance to the Economy:

The very role of government is to ensure that the prosperity of our economy is broadly shared among all hard working Americans and their families. Yet, in the past two decades, government has not only retrenched in its obligation to set rules in the economy that value all working Americans, but it has set rules that undermine everyday Americans. It is time for government to be on the side of working Americans.

The paper was presented at a recent EPI public forum where Paul Krugman, keynote speaker, provided the following words of wisdom:

So, if you say what would I really like if I went into a Rip Van Winkle sleep and woke up ten years from now, I’d like to wake up and discover that we have a national health care in some version with the necessary funding supplied in part by higher taxes on me, or actually, the top two percent of the income distribution. But people a lot richer than me, of course. But it’s not the whole story that the only thing you can do is taxes and social insurance. And the arc of history for the United States suggests that there’s actually a lot more that can happen.

And if you’re looking for a progressive agenda, certainly from my point of view, a large part of that ought to be straightforward orthodox stuff, which is still very hard to do politically. It would be essentially restoring progressivity of the tax system, and using the revenue to improve social insurance and, above all, health care.

But the amount of inequality in the United States is substantially less than it would be if we did not have still at least somewhat progressive taxation, and still a pretty extensive, though not nearly extensive enough, system of social insurance. And that makes a big difference. Certainly if you’re looking at say the United States versus Canada, a lot of the difference between the two countries is just that Canada has more of a better safety net financed by somewhat higher taxation.

Where is Bertrand de Jouvenel when you need his insights? Well, Sumner and de Jouvenel are still here; their reasoning simply remains lost to the Krugmans of the world. The Progressives and their government allies have had over a century to work out the kinks of their socialist utopia, yet it remains beyond their grasp.

Even Krugman notes that we don’t want the level of redistribution found in Cuba, but a level just to the north would begin solve the nation’s economic ills. How? By restoring dignity through repealing the tattered remnants of the concepts of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Sometimes it is as if the Soviet Union never imploded. I await the coming day when the New York Times finally changes its masthead to: Workers of the world, unite! That day won’t be soon enough for Krugman and his minions at EPI.

{ 1 comment }

Mary dolan March 7, 2007 at 4:05 pm

Is it really (greater) equality of wealth that these writers are after? If yes, why? Please imagine in sequence that you are a) the richest person in the world, b) a person of exactly average means, and c) that you are so poor as to be struggling at the verge of subsistence. How, in each case, would it help you if everyone else in the world were in the same boat, wealth-wise, that you were?

I think we can see that equality of wealth is, in and of itself, of no value or importance. What the writers seek is probably the confiscation of the money of “the rich” to bestow upon “the poor,” in an effort to make “the poor” more wealthy. Probably, then, these writers imagine that the wealth of the world exists in some one fixed amount and that in order for one person to obtain more of it, someone else will have to be content with less of it.

In that case (the writers ought to ask themselves), where was this fixed pool of wealth in the days of earth’s earliest inhabitants? Although these few inhabitants bore unquestioned dominion over all the earth’s untapped oil and mineral resources, arable land, prime real estate, available technology and healthcare, etc., etc. etc., still it would appear that they did not live long lives of great luxury. We might almost say that no pool of wealth existed in those early times.

So how did the world’s wealth appear? Or, how did it grow? –By dint of some persons’ confiscationg from others whatever little those others may have owned and using it for their own consumption? Would this cause the total wealth of the world to grow?

In other words, where does wealth come from? Since the writers purportedly are trying to help some people obtain more wealth, it would make sense for the writers first to ask: Where does wealth come from? And I would like to give them the following hint as well: Wealth does not come from the wealthy; the wealthy are not the SOURCE of wealth.

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