December 26, 2006

Sowell - Plain Talk

When faced with societal outcomes they don't understand, like corporate CEO's earning more than other people, self-styled progressives demand government action to "fix" things. Thomas Sowell says it's a bad idea to make public policy based on the economic ignorance of certain segments of society. Read the whole thing.

...if this obsession with income disparities is to be something more than mere hand-wringing or gnashing of teeth, obviously the point is that somebody ought to "do something" to change what you don't understand.

Usually that means that the government -- politicians -- should impose policies based on your ignorance of what is going on. Can you imagine anything more dangerous than allowing politicians to decide how much money each of us can earn?

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...it took a Constitutional amendment to enable the federal government to impose an income tax. The people who wrote the Constitution were wise enough to understand what a dangerous thing it would be to allow government to take money from people just because those people had it.

Unfortunately, "progressives" were foolish enough, or envious enough, to single out "the rich" for a process that would inevitably spread across society and become insatiable in its demands.

Today's "progressives" want to expand political control of incomes even more. They call it "social justice" but you could call it Rumpelstiltskin and it would still mean politicians deciding how much money each of us can be allowed to have.

It is also worth noting that the people who are said to be earning "obscene" amounts of money are usually corporate executives. There is no such outrage whipped up when Hollywood movie stars make some multiple of what most corporate executives make.

This is social or ideological bias added to envy and ignorance. It makes quite a witches' brew on which to base national policy.

UPDATE 12/28: Sowell has a good follow-up piece today at NRO.

Posted by dan at December 26, 2006 2:11 PM