There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
There are times when someone says something that is so utterly stupid that it no longer even qualifies as wrong, per se. As a blogger who dedicates himself to opposing and eviscerating the stupid arguments of people who constantly attempt to over-empower the state at the expense of individual liberty, I’m supposed to denounce this. Yet, from an epistemological standpoint, it almost becomes pointless. It’s like shooting the suicide bomber after the attack is through.
Elizabeth Warren’s brain is clearly dead to logic and reason. The State of Alabama built several roads that I drove to work on this morning. They therefore own the beer in my refrigerator, if I bought it using proceeds from my paycheck. I can drink half-a-case myself and should enjoy it, but those last few should go a government-sponsored reality abatement program. It’s like medicinal marijuana, except that it makes you piss and burp, rather than eat all the Doritos.
Sadly, politics is like a cheesy work of zombie fiction. Despite her obvious lack of any intellectual pulse, her career staggers forward. It lurches towards a seat in the US Senate that would be better represented by the famous Roman Racehorse Incatatus. There are several ways to approach stupidity sent to the college and therefore taken seriously. Rich Lowry attempts to dissipate Elizabeth’s quaint little smug-cloud that obscures her perceptions of the petite bourgeoisie below.
She argued that these goods are things “the rest of us paid for,” the “rest of us did.” When it comes to federal income taxes — the focus of the current debate — this isn’t right. About half the country doesn’t pay them, and the top 10 percent pays about 70 percent. Insofar as those taxes fund Warren’s public goods, her rich industrialist disproportionately contributes already.
You could attempt to argue by allegory, a la Plato’s shadows on the wall of the cave. Anthony de Jasay explains why your loyal pet dog has every right to eat the home title below.
Your dog is alert, plucky and a fearsome guardian of your property. For all we know, without his services, you would have been burgled over and over again. Your belongings would be depleted and the utility you derived from your home would be much reduced. The difference between the actual value of your home and its unguarded value is the contribution of your dog, and so is the difference between the respective utilities or satisfactions you derive from it. We do not know the exact figure, but the main thing is that there is one.
Warren seems to unreasonably anthropomorphize society. The State of Alabama never decided to pave a road so that Repair_Man_Jack could cruise on in to work and earn enough scratch to drink his juice down in the hood. A bunch of people decided to live and work near where I do. They complained about the state of the roads in that area (and still do). Athwart La Belle Dame Warren, that’s how the stinkin’ roads around here finally got improved.
The State of Alabama and the City of Huntsville therein, only came into being as an integral sum of volitional human decisions. They may or may not remain in existence as an integral sum of future volitional human decisions. Alabama, and some days Huntsville in Beeping particular, possesses no volitional will to do anything. They are discorporate. It’s not like either can walk up and shake your hand.
The bigger problem here, and the one that makes Elizabeth Warren’s despicable and dangerous demagoguery particularly cancerous to good civil order, lies in its consequent deconstruction of the nature of what a price is. A price is what you pay for value received. That value results from volitional actions of others. Therefore, that house I live in, car I drive and paycheck I earn should unconditionally belong to me. And as for Mr. Brewski, don’t try and bogart my Frigidaire. Anthony de Jasay expounds more fluidly below.
All contributions of others to the building of your house have been paid for at each link in the chain of production. All current contributions to its maintenance and security are likewise being paid for. Value has been and is being given for value received, even though the “value” is not always money and goods, but may sometimes be affection, loyalty or the discharge of duty. In the exchange relation, a giver is also a recipient, and of course vice versa.
In a civil and decent society, you own what you pay for and you keep what you earn. There are no spurious or exogenous claims to your house unless you really need to fire the attorney who did your claims search before the closing meeting. A society where everyone who helps pay taxes and support the fire department gets a piece of everyone else’s pie is a functional anarchy. That is until it stops functioning. And then the fit truly hits the shan.
For this reason, Elizabeth Warren deserves our condign contempt. She should be taken about as seriously as Bob Higgs takes her. She needs to be resoundingly defeated in her bid for higher office and then hooted out of serious and contemplative society. She is a joke. It disturbs me that so few people get that and start laughing.