by Don Cooper
The conflict that exists in our society today and is at the heart of our current economic crisis is one of economic efficiency vs. economic equity.
Economic efficiency is the owning of private property and one doing with that private property what he or she sees fit within the moral standards set forth by society. Standard economic thought says that one will engage their private property in such a way as to make their lot in life at least no worse off and hopefully better off.
This is probably more readily known to the general populous as “Capitalism.”
The wonderful thing about capitalism is that it provides opportunity. It provides the opportunities for individuals, communities, social organizations and the like to improve themselves, their communities or their organization in one way or another. It provides them with the incentive to use their resources efficiently. It provides them with alternatives. It provides them with choices. It provides them with freedom!
Capitalistic behavior can be found everywhere around us from the student who has chosen to improve his human capital by attending university; the working professional who has chosen to add to his financial capital by going to work everyday; the community organization that has chosen to improve the community’s social capital by building houses for the poor.
Capitalistic behavior is innate in every one of us. We can’t escape it. And it is good. It’s what has driven us to excel, to explore, to innovate and invent, to think creatively and “outside the box.” It’s what drove the first human beings to invent tools. It’s what drove Europe out of the middle ages and into the enlightenment of the renaissance. It’s what drove pioneering American’s to build this country.
It is in fact human nature and our constitution was written so as not to preclude capitalistic behavior in what was to be a great experiment.
Enter the federal government. “Hail the Conquering Heroes.” The politicians running the government have different objectives. They need votes! They need to convince voters that they care about them so they’ll vote for them. Never met ’em, don’t want to meet ’em, ain’t got time to met ’em but they care about ’em.
They need to convince voters that they understand that it isn’t “fair” that Bob Jones, who chose to go to university for 6 years to obtain a bachelors and a master’s degree in engineering, has a good-paying job and they don’t. They need to convince voters that they understand it isn’t fair that Bob Jones can afford gas and they can’t. It isn’t fair that Bob Jones has health insurance and they don’t. It isn’t fair that Bob Jones gets to go to Disney World on summer holiday and they don’t.
Gosh darnit, the government cares about voters and they’re going to work as hard as they can to make things equitable even if it means getting Bob Jones to pay for it.
Oh it doesn’t matter that while Bob Jones was sacrificing for 6 years in school, those complaining chose to do other things with their lives that didn’t improve their human capital. It doesn’t matter that those complaining sat right next to Bob in high school and had all the same opportunities that Bob had but chose not to take advantage of them.
The government couldn’t care less about these things because it needs votes. And they’ll try to buy their votes from the voters by using their unconstitutional power to enact legislation that forces Bob to give, without compensation, a part of his hard-earned financial capital to those who don’t have as much as him. This is fairer. This makes our society more equitable. And why shouldn’t Bob? After all, we’re all Americans and we have to take care of our own, right?
Unemployed or low-income people no longer have to worry about income or health care or gas because now Bob, at threat of imprisonment, will pay for it. We can’t wait for Bob and his cohort’s to voluntarily help out. We need to force them to pony up now and big.
This has a profound effect on our society: no longer are we driven to excel, to explore, to innovate and invent, to think creatively and “outside the box.” It would be irrational to incur the costs of education and hard work when I know the government will give me everything I need compliments of suckers like Bob. A smart man would now spend his time lobbying the government for more entitlements rather than sitting in a classroom or in a productive social role.
Effectively the federal government is indirectly trying to illegally homogenize a capitalistic society. This is an effective political tool in a capitalistic society. A political tool that has been used before in other countries with disastrous effects.
It was called communism. Communism drains a society of human capital, financial capital and social capital. There is no incentive to excel because everyone gets the same income anyway. No incentive to explore because the state owns all the resources. No incentive to innovate or invent because the state owns your ideas. But it is economically equitable!
Of course due to the lack of invention, people live at lower levels of existence. They have sub-modern health care, sub-modern education, sub-modern infrastructures. Compared with other countries they don’t produce artists, writers, musicians, doctors, scientists, inventers or the like. But thank goodness it’s equitable!
Got comments? Email me, dammit!
Permanent link for this article which can be used on any website: