Saturday, July 30, 2011

Obama and the class society

Mr. Victor Davis Hanson writes an article on class warfare, concluding:

Quite simply, Barack Obama will be remembered not so much for being the nation’s first African-American president, or even the man who ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden, or even for his Obamacare, but as the president who grew government the largest, ran up the largest deficits during any presidential tenure, and laid out most candidly and confidently the argument of why the United States is an intrinsically unfair society and how that must be remedied by government.

Source: Behind the D.C. Slugfest - By Victor Davis Hanson - The Corner - National Review Online

Mr. Hanson's thesis is correct; the progressive meme is primarily built on the Marxian notion of class struggle; that the worker is forever pitted against capital and the bourgeoisie. Of course, this meme is attractive, prominent and utterly and totally incorrect.

For history is the story of freedom. It is the story of individuals' ever growing liberty to choose their vocations and follow their dreams as a worker or entrepreneur, against the ever present danger of state and bureaucratic encroachment which always threatens our freedom and impoverishes us. Capital will follow any good idea. It is not against the worker; it is for any idea, and in free societies anyone is free to have one.

And so Mr. Hanson does not make the most important thesis of the redistributive meme. For it is the very government regulation and redistribution policies of encroaching governments that ensure permanent societal classes, especially the poor. And no, I am not talking about a dependency culture, although it is true that long term welfare recipients tend to be generational, a topic of discussion for some other time.

The simple fact is the poor can not find or create a job because they are not allowed by government to do so. In order to use their skills to pull themselves out of poverty, they need capital in amounts which would in many cases mean they are no longer poor!

Regulation robs folks of their ability to choose and profit from their ideas and aspirations. Licenses are a prevalent example. The poor and jobless are precluded from entering many lower skilled professions or starting their own business. The poor can not open their own taxi service, or style hair, or provide patrons the benefits of their extra rooms or cooking skills. Governments have effectively cut off all available entrepreneurial activity for the poor. They are not allowed to take care of themselves without heavy investment in 'schooling' and payments to government constructed entities which will regulate their 'quality' and suitability. If you doubt the truthfulness of this statement, name one activity a jobless person can undertake to earn a living without government barrier.

But it gets worse. Neither are the poor allowed to save. They are precluded by law from leaving a nest egg for their children or providing an ongoing annuity for their loved ones. A simple review of social security laws which take 12% of any earnings by the poor for the lifetime of their careers verifies the statement. SS is by definition a Ponzi scheme. It does not invest. It does not provide an income stream to the contributor. It does not save. It does not provide a return on investment, which is the foundational vehicle for the rich to become richer. The poor are not allowed to invest, unless they do so themselves in addition to the precious amounts of income governments take from them by way of social security. That is a very high bar and to most folks, too high a bar.

On top of precluding jobs and preventing the wonders of compounding, governments protect the rich from failure. They bail out failed institutions, they add huge amounts of debt which denigrate the dollar and therefore the buying power of the poor, and protect the politically connected from the vagaries of markets where the poor and small entrepreneurs live every day. Your audit failed? Well, you can not really be held responsible. Your bank failed? Well, let us risk stagflation to prevent writing down your debt. Never mind that by preventing creative destruction, we preclude the benefits of a thriving economy and the jobs it spins off. You wish to walk to work or the supermarket? Sorry, we have zoning laws that preclude that (but we are worried about global warming). You wish to buy a used car? Sorry, we've destroyed them in order to make you spend more.

And THAT should be the meme that proponents of free markets tell. We do not need to just cut spending. We need to roll back regulation that prevents low income mobility. We need laws that nurture a spirit freed, that give entrepreneurs / workers a chance to perform, and individuals and groups the ease to choose their destinies. Life may be tough. The least governments can do is avoid making it tougher.

Please stop taking care of us, and begin taking care of our right to choose.

More here: CARPE DIEM: Want More Jobs? Remove Barriers to Job Creation

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