February 11, 2008

On Spreading Misery Equally

Bernard Chapin's review of the latest book by City Journal Editor Brian C. Anderson, "Democratic Capitalism and its Discontents", does what it's supposed to do. Compel you to click on the Amazon link and "Proceed to Checkout." Here's a meaty sample:

He begins by linking the assault on capitalism with the suicide of our culture. Statists are keen to forget that communism and National Socialism were responsible for over 125 million deaths during the last century. The antidote for the totalitarianism endemic to these movements, democratic capitalism, is well-known and readily available to most western nations. It systematically reverses the manmade afflictions of fascism wherever it is introduced, yet only a precious plurality appear cognizant of its worth.

At the root of the populist disdain for economic freedom is the cult of equality. This same cult of equality is what forms the basis of the progressive attachment to socialism. Unfortunately, everyone having the same outcome in life is not possible within a capitalistic framework. Any society in which man selects his own path features inherent disparities among citizens because “not all people are equally gifted, equally nurtured, equally hardworking, equally lucky.” This observation is non-remarkable to those of us who accept that there is such a thing as human nature.

Utopians slander this eventuality (known as reality) as being stone-hearted and repugnant. They regard our species to be malleable and one that possesses unlimited promise—provided that a route can be hewn through those who regard history as a discipline that has something to say about the present. Like good, evil, and the poor, our utopians will always be with us. All one has to do is turn on the television in order to see them. Usually, they clamor for change while urging us to vote “for our dreams and not our fears” which, all too often, necessitates our being seduced by fantastic proposals that promise little more than to illuminate that the laws of unintended consequence are timeless.

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Ultimately, the anti-capitalist mindset consistently manages to perplex. Who but a true believer would question that without businesses, producers, and entrepreneurs the welfare state would cease to exist forever? Yes, without capitalism equality is possible, but it would come at the cost of all of us having nothing. This is particularly true in regards to those presumptive knights that infest the federocracy’s corridors of power. If not for those individual Americans who possess courage, tolerance for risk, and creativity no bureaucrat could dispose of paper, other people’s careers, and resources for very long [or at least, do so in the comfort of a heated building].

"Perplexed" is a good word for it. I have never understood the statists' fierce antipathy to the private sector, even as many of them have opted out of it for whatever reason. Surely they see that it is the engine generating the sustenance for their beloved State, and that its health is necessary for government to be sustainable. That cult of equality is what drives Democratic candidates (Edwards and Hillary being the best recent examples) to insist that government "needs to do more about income inequality." Really? Why? How?

Those aren't the only questions they should be made to answer for the voters; What exactly is the endgame here anyway....brain surgeons and busboys making the same salary? What societies in history have accomplished this kind of government-enforced economic levelling with positive results? What greater principle is being served by trying to equalize life outcomes through government action?

After all, it's not "income insufficiency" they're saying must be addressed. No conservative I know denies the moral imperative for a societal 'safety net' for those who need it. The statists' problem is that some people just have more, and they believe it is a worthwhile government goal to engineer and steer society away from its inevitable destination. What happened to celebrating the diversity?

Posted by dan at February 11, 2008 10:23 PM