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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Collectivists, Gravity, and Human Nature

All this collectivist hogwash is really bothering me, more and more. I'll start reading an article about something like the problems with beggars for instance and I'll be nodding my head right along with the points the writer is making: yes, yes, yes, and then suddenly... they'll veer off track and I realize that this was never about beggars at all, but about a born-again collectivist bemoaning the unfairness inherent in the division of wealth. This was another attempt to convince the easily convinced, the shallow thinkers, and the followers on the path of least resistance to keep following and to stop thinking.

The argument from collectivists is always the same argument. If the rich will only divest themselves of their vast riches suddenly the world will heal. Beggars will seek gainful employment; the poor will suddenly stop doing all the things that keep them poor, like drinking, drugs, gambling, buying the latest pair of designer basketball shoes, the newest video games, junk food at convenience stores or McDonald's, and borrowing money at check cashing places with 1040% annual interest rates. They'll stop letting their kids run the streets at night and sleep through their classes all day. They'll use this potlatch of redistributed wealth to do the right thing, the smart thing, the thing they never once did before. Isn't that right? Well then let's start railing against the unfairness of the seas why don't we? You nasty selfish ocean you, holding on to that vast reservoir of life-giving water when the world is full of dusty places and dry deserts! It's not fair I say! Water flows downhill and wealth just the opposite. You can scream and bitch and moan at the unfairness of gravity or of human nature all you want to, but nothing will change either one.

There's a deep tranquil place somewhere back in my head that knows what's right and what's wrong. If you take something valuable—possessions, money, land, dignity, health, or life from someone either by force or by trickery, than you have done wrong. I think most people would agree with that. When you look at ancient codes of law, whether the Ten Commandments, the Code of Hammurabi, or the Constitution of the United States of America, they are all agreements that all people must follow if they are to live together as neighbors in a community. They each have in common that what a person owns is his to do with as he pleases, not as someone else pleases.

Collectivists, Progressives, Liberals, Democrats, Socialists, Communists, they are all shades of red. Red is as good a color as any to characterize collectivism, but more so than most because red is also the color of blood. Don't get confused about red states and blue states. That's just a trick the collectivist mainstream media managed to pull on us only in the last decade or so. It used to be the other way around. The USSR was red. China is red. California and the North East are red. When you use force to redistribute wealth what you get is oceans and oceans of blood. We've seen it again and again. It's a joke that we keep telling and it's the unfunniest joke of all that nobody gets anyway. The only people who end up better off when governments start redistributing wealth are the officials, bureaucrats, commissars, and king-pins who are put in charge of that redistribution.

There's a video that's gone "viral" recently regarding the distribution of wealth in the United States. If you watch the video you will get the impression that it's all just so unfair.
Again for those who refuse to use their heads, who follow the path of least resistance and never engage in critical thinking the figures—which I assume are factual—seem to bolster the argument that redistribution is a good idea. We're shown the vast wealth of the top 1% and I have to ask what is it that the makers of this video—and collectivists in general—actually want? Do they want to take the wealth of the top 1% and give it to the bottom 20%? Would that be fair? What about taking the wealth from the top ten percent and redistributing it to the bottom 50%? Now everyone’s equal right? Does that seem fair to you? Let's forget about whether it's fair, let's instead talk about whether it will even work.

By far the rich are rich because they know how to make money. Not take money, make money. They create wealth. Think about that for a minute. When Steven Jobs or Bill Gates amasses billions of dollars, they do it by creating something that benefits everyone. From those who work for Apple and Microsoft, to the vendors and subsidiaries that supply the parts, trucks, packaging, and advertising, to those who use those products every day. Do you think these two men would have been able to do what they did had they been born in the USSR? What about North Korea? Red China? Come on! The United States—the entire world—is vastly richer because of these two billionaires. Sure they have obscene amounts of money, but in the process of making all that money, everyone benefited. That all changes however, when you start using the force of government to "make" things more fair. It causes resentment from those you take from. It causes anger from those who you don't give it to. It causes greed in those who move it from point A to point B. It makes the rich move, change their behavior so they make less, or even stop making wealth entirely.

Here's my little explanatory analogy: there is a baker in town who runs a bakery and daily creates from scratch a variety of delicious foods for the townsfolk. The poor in the town can't afford to pay for the things the baker bakes in his bakery, and that makes them sad. Along comes a do-gooder with an idea. What if the baker donated bread to the poor? That way the well-off would pay for their food and the poor would eat for free. In order for the bakery to continue to operate the baker would need to raise the price for his products accordingly. This all seems nice and fair, am I right?

But what about those in the middle? Too well-off for free bread and yet the higher prices of that bread means that often they have to do without. A merchant who commonly travels through this small town on his way from one place to the next, notices the high price of bread, so the next time he comes through the town he brings in a wagon-load of cheap bread from China. The poor have their free bread. The rich continue buying the delicious but high-priced bread, and those in the middle buy the cheap bread from China, which isn't that great but it's all they can afford. With vastly fewer people buying his bread the baker ends up going broke. The rich end up having to buy not-so-great bread from China, while the poor are back where they started. As for the baker? He's moved to where people are willing to pay a fair price for good bread, as he day after day, continues to create wealth from scratch to the great benefit of the good people in his brand new town.

Collectivism doesn't work even if the redistribution is voluntary because of the forces of competition, but it's not voluntary so armies of bureaucrats are required to see who is so poor that they're deserving of the bread, and to force the baker to part with his loaves and meanwhile each bureaucrat takes his little slice from each and every loaf.

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