By Jacob G. Hornberger
One of the principal aims of the progressive (i.e., leftist, liberal, socialist) movement is equalization of income and wealth. They think it’s unfair, even immoral, for some people to have more when others have less. They especially decry the existence of billionaires but their lament oftentimes extends to millionaires as well, sometimes even to anyone who has more wealth than someone else. They want to the government to equalize income and wealth by taking away money from those who have it and either give it to others or simply retain it in the government’s coffers for general expenditures.
Leftists have convinced themselves that people are poor precisely because other people are rich. Of course, under a tax-and-redistribute political-economic system, theoretically that could be possible. That is, the state could tax people and then give the largess to, say, a corporation, enabling it to become wealthy through this corporate-welfare largess. Or the state could grant a monopoly to a firm to provide some good or service, enabling the firm to become wealthy owing to the lack of competitors.
In an unhampered market economy, however, which is what we libertarians favor, the only way that someone can become wealthy is by providing goods or services that other people are willing to buy. The more successful the seller is in satisfying consumers, the wealthier he becomes.
Thus, financial success in a genuine free market society cannot conceivably be the cause of someone’s else’s poverty. In fact, it’s the opposite: The more successful the firm, the better off people at the bottom of the economic ladder are.
First, consider the jobs the firm is offering to people. Those jobs provide income and security to employees. As the firm succeeds in satisfying consumers, it expands its operations. That means offering jobs to more people.
Second, consider the products and services the firm is offering to people in their role as consumers. The more products and services the firm is offering, especially if prices begin diminishing owing to increased supply, the better off consumers are.
Third, by increasing revenues and profits, the firm is adding to the overall level of capital in society, which brings about increased productivity, which means increases in prosperity and the overall societal standard of living.
Thus, in a genuine free market there is a harmony of interests between business owners, investors, employees, and consumers. They all have the same interest in maintaining and expanding the success of the firm. The fact that some people are getting wealthier than others is quite irrelevant when we consider that everyone is better off than they were before.
What really is the real driving force behind the socialist movement for equalization? Envy and covetousness. Leftists simply cannot stand the fact that some people have more money than they do. Even if forced equalization through the power of the state to tax the rich makes everyone, including the poor, worse off, that’s okay with socialists. All that matters is that the rich no longer are rich.
We have seen the socialist equalization mindset play out in communist countries. For example, when Fidel Castro took the reins of power in Cuba, he didn’t settle for just taxing the rich. He knew that that would reduce wealth inequality but not eliminate it. He decided to go for full equalization. He took everything — everything! — from the rich. Money, bank accounts, homes, and businesses. The communist government took ownership of everything. Everyone went to work for the government.
After a while, most everyone was equal in terms of income and wealth — that is, equally poor. In fact, most everyone was now on the verge of starvation. (The exception, of course, entailed certain privileged Cuban government officials.). By taking control over all the businesses and having government bureaucrats run them, the government destroyed not only the entrepreneurship that drives a free-market economy but also the private accumulation of capital, one of the keys to rising standards of living and prosperity.
Thus, the socialist equalization obsession ends up destroying the economic foundation for a genuinely prosperous society. More important, it destroys the liberty of the citizenry. That’s because in a genuinely free society, people have the natural and God-given right to accumulate as much wealth as they want and to do whatever they want with it.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
US "humanitarian" aid to Venezuela is being weaponized - routed through the US-backed opposition to feed its supporters. Meanwhile, backers of the Venezuelan government will face draconian sanctions designed to starve them into accepting the US-appointed president. If it does not work, Bolton and the neocons are fomenting civil war in the country.
By Ron Paul
Hard as it is to believe, airline travel recently became even more unpleasant. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees being required to work without pay for the duration of the government shutdown resulted in many TSA workers calling in sick. The outbreak of “shutdown flu” among TSA employees forced some large airports to restrict the number of places mandatory TSA screenings were performed, making going through screening even more time-consuming and providing one more reason to shut down the TSA.
Airline security should be provided by airlines and airports. Private businesses, such as airlines, have an incentive to ensure their customers’ safety without treating them like criminal suspects or worse. Security personnel hired by, and accountable to, airlines would not force a nursing mother to drink her own breast milk or steal a stuffed lamb from a wheelchair-using three-year-old and subject the child to such an intensive screening that she cries “I don’t want to go to Disneyworld.” Those who claim that the TSA is necessary to keep us safe should consider that the Department of Homeland Security’s own studies show that TSA’s screenings and even the intrusive pat-downs are ineffective at discovering hidden guns, explosives, and other weapons.
TSA employees have no incentives to please, or even care about the well-being of, airline passengers. Instead, their jobs depend on pleasing politicians and bureaucrats. If we have learned anything since 9/11, it is that most politicians are more concerned with appearing to be “doing something” about security than actually reducing the risk of terrorist attacks. That is why politicians’ response to 9/11 was a series of actions — such as creating the TSA, passing the PATRIOT Act, and invading Iraq — that trade our real liberties for phantom security. Sometimes, pro-TSA politicians will bemoan the TSA’s “excesses” and even call for “reforming” the agency in order to pretend they care about their constituents’ rights.
Restoring responsibility for providing security to private businesses will encourage the development of new and innovative ways to more effectively provide security. In a free market, airlines and airports could compete for business on the basis that their flights are safer or their screening is less unpleasant then that of their competitors. If airlines were able to set their own security policies, they would likely allow pilots to carry firearms.
Private companies also strive to be consistent in providing services. Therefore, a company providing private security would never inconvenience its customers because of a “temporary shutdown.”
Because government operations are funded by coercive taxation rather than voluntary choices of consumers, federal officials cannot rely on the price system to inform them of whether they need to increase or decrease spending on airline security. In the private sector, businesses that charge more for security — or any other good or service — than individuals are willing to pay lose customers. Also, if businesses do not spend enough on security, people concerned about safety will be unwilling to use their services. Privatizing airline security is the only way to ensure that the “correct” amount of resources is being spent on airline safety.
In the 18 years since Congress created the TSA, the agency has proven itself incapable of providing real security, but more than capable of harrying Americans and wasting taxpayer dollars on security theater. Congress should permanently close the TSA and return responsibility for security to private businesses.
By Liberty Report Staff
Have we reached "peak Trump"? Is there no way out of the swamp? Former Reagan Administration senior official David Stockman joins today's Liberty Report to discuss his upcoming book, Peak Trump: The Undrainable Swamp and the Fantasy of MAGA.
Why are young people being enticed by the philosophy of something for nothing? Why aren't Republicans doing so well with them? Is it because many Republicans are closet Socialists themselves? Ron Paul discusses on today's Liberty Report!
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe has warned that due to China's activities in the South China Sea, the US should be preparing for World War III with China. Are Chinese actions in the Spratley Islands more threatening than the global US military presence? Is war the only solution? As usual...follow the money.
Appearing before the Senate, US intelligence community heads undermined each of President Trump's foreign policy positions and warned that foreign "enemies" would likely interfere in the 2020 elections. The Deep State, neocons, and the liberal #resistance all line up against peace and freedom.
Yesterday, Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton made the US position clear in a FoxNews interview: Washington will overthrow the Venezuelan government and take its oil for the benefit of US companies. This is "regime change" on steroids!
By Ron Paul
Last week President Trump announced that the United States would no longer recognize Nicholas Maduro as president of Venezuela and would recognize the head of its national assembly, Jose Guaido, as president instead. US thus openly backs regime change. But what has long been a dream of the neocons may well turn out to be a nightmare for President Trump.
Why did Trump declare that the Venezuelan president was no longer the president? According to the State Department, the Administration was acting to help enforce the Venezuelan constitution. If only they were so eager to enforce our own Constitution!
It’s ironic that a president who has spent the first two years in office fighting charges that a foreign country meddled in the US elections would turn around and not only meddle in foreign elections but actually demand the right to name a foreign country’s president! How would we react if the Chinese and Russians decided that President Trump was not upholding the US Constitution and recognized Speaker Nancy Pelosi as US president instead?
Even those who would like to see a change of government in Venezuela should reject any notion that the change must be “helped” by the United States. According to press reports, Vice President Mike Pence was so involved in internal Venezuelan affairs that he actually urged Guaido to name himself president and promised US support. This is not only foolish, it is very dangerous. A Venezuelan civil war would result in mass death and even more economic misery!
Regime change has long been US policy for Venezuela. The US has been conducting economic warfare practically since Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, was first elected in 1998. The goal of US sanctions and other economic measures against Venezuela (and other countries in Washington’s crosshairs) is to make life so miserable for average citizens that they rise up and overthrow their leaders. But of course once they do so they must replace those leaders with someone approved by Washington. Remember after the “Arab Spring” in Egypt when the people did rise up and overthrow their leader, but they then elected the “wrong” candidate. The army moved in and deposed the elected president and replaced him with a Washington-approved politician. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry called it “restoring democracy.”
It is tragically comical that President Trump has named convicted criminal Elliot Abrams as his point person to “restore democracy” in Venezuela. Abrams played a key role in the Iran-Contra affair and went on to be one of the chief architects of the disastrous US invasion of Iraq in 2003. His role in helping promote the horrible violence in Latin America in the 1980s should disqualify him from ever holding public office again.
Instead of this ham-fisted coup d’etat, a better policy for Venezuela these past 20 years would have been engagement and trade. If we truly believe in the superiority of a free market system we must also believe that we can only lead by example, not by forcing our system on others.
Just four months ago President Trump said at the UN: “I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.” Sadly it seems that these were merely empty words. We know from Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. that this will not end well for President Trump. Or for the United States. We must leave Venezuela alone!