10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
President Barack Obama tells us that economic inequality threatens the American Dream.* I’m of the opposite opinion. Any American Dream that doesn’t feature Diana Moon Glampers from the Kurt Vonnegut story Harrison Bergeron will prominently feature economic inequality. One simply cannot imagine UCLA Basketball under Coach Wooden without nearly three decades of pernicious scoring inequality. An alternate Greek Mythology in which Promotheus slacked-off, played X-Box and made sure Epimetheus didn’t feel unequal or unworthy would have posited a far, far colder world. Meritorious inequality is the reward and the jet-fuel of the American Dream.
Ending inequality, President Obama announced, drives everything he does in office. Yet even with the glorious reelection of Barack; the poor we will always have with us. You cannot compel an unmotivated, uncaring person to succeed against their own will. The government can temporarily prop these people up at the expense of those who do strive and achieve, but giving a man a fish feeds him for only a day. If you aren’t Jesus, you will eventually run out of the fishes and the loaves. Banishing inequality is not possible.
Furthermore, and this is the more controversial truth, banishing inequality is not a very intelligent thing to do. How dumb is the concept of having government unilaterally abolish inequality? It is so stupid that Mark Steyn and Matthew Yglesias reached across the gaping ideological chasm to point out the economically obvious. Yglesias handled the practical concerns that logical people would have with Obama’s crusade against inequality.
For people who haven’t gone to college—the kind of people who live in the neighborhood where Obama was speaking—the unemployment rate is 20 percent. That’s a disaster. And while Obama talked about plenty of things that could help those unemployed families—subsidized health care, better schools for their kids—he didn’t really talk about anything that would get them jobs.
This is all true and needs only to be completed to comprehensively address the practical problems with our president’s ideological crusade. Yglesias is correct that people will require jobs to earn long-term prosperity. What he didn’t quite reach out and address is the fact that not everyone who isn’t working is willing to do what is necessary. The 13th Amendment won’t allow us to enslave someone who literally refuses to raise a hand to his own betterment.
“Banishing inequality” then requires us to use the Federal Government’s vast and spiraling version of GoFundMe to subsidize this velleity as a lifestyle. Perhaps this aspect of President Obama’s willingness to take from each according to his ability and give to others according to their needs has helped earn him the derogatory epithet “Food Stamp President.”
Mark Steyn takes a different path than Matthew Yglesias, but finds himself lead to the same destination. Ending inequality for the sake of just making everyone equal is a terrible idea. Yglesias argues the President’s plan is unworkable. Mark Steyn goes even further and argues that enforced equality, not inequality is the looming threat to the American Dream. He opines below.
So what does every initiative of the Obama era have in common? Obamacare, Obamaphones, Social Security disability expansion, 50 million people on food stamps . . . The assumption is that mass, multi-generational dependency is now a permanent feature of life. A coastal elite will devise ever smarter and slicker trinkets, and pretty much everyone else will be a member of either the dependency class or the vast bureaucracy that ministers to them. And, if you’re wondering why every Big Government program assumes you’re a feeble child, that’s because a citizenry without “work and purpose” is ultimately incompatible with liberty. The elites think a smart society will be wealthy enough to relieve the masses from the need to work. In reality, it would be neo-feudal, but with fatter, sicker peasants. It wouldn’t just be “economic inequality,” but a far more profound kind, and seething with resentments
Forced economic equality creates one more problem that Yglesias and Steyn have not effectively addressed. It ends economic growth. Jobs are created with the investment of capital. Capital arises when money is accumulated and saved. To see the extent to which this obvious tautology holds, it helps to examine the arguments against this positive aspect of continued inequality. Henry Blodgett manfully strives to haul the President’s freight and support mass income redistribution below.
Entrepreneurs and investors like me actually don’t create the jobs — not sustainable ones, anyway. Yes, we can create jobs temporarily, by starting companies and funding losses for a while. And, yes, we are a necessary part of the economy’s job-creation engine. But to suggest that we alone are responsible for the jobs that sustain the other 300 million Americans is the height of self-importance and delusion.
John Tamny does the necessary task of restating the obvious as palette cleanser for anyone who actually clicked and read Blodgett’s entire apologia for Neo-Marxism. He patiently explains how post-slavery labor markets work below.
Indeed, as Joseph Schumpeter long ago observed, and his observation was a tautology, there are no entrepreneurs without capital. Taking Schumpeter’s basic insight even further, it’s stating the obvious to assert that there are no companies, and no jobs, without investment first. For anyone irrespective of ideology to deny the latter brings new meaning to willful blindness. So once the obvious is accepted, that companies need investment in order to open for business and hire people, we then can ask where investment comes from. It comes from all of us who save and invest, but the rich, by virtue of being rich, have the most to invest. Investment is what creates jobs, rich people can claim the vast majority of investable wealth in this country, and because they can it’s another tautology to say that their savings and investment create the vast majority of jobs.
Inequality sucks when you’re on the wrong side of the greater than symbol. I’ve been there before and can empathize. However, a government aimed at ending inequality is unpractical, immoral and an aberration against the laws of nature. This sort of government is impractical because you cannot make the lowest and least motivated get off their butt in a nation where slavery has been abolished. People will ultimately only rise as high as they are willing. This push to unconditionally end inequality is immoral because it rewards the slack and the expense of both the willing and the most capable. It punishes the continued exertion of both will and ability. It is unnatural because it believes that a world of totally equal and totally unmotivated people will magically generate the capital necessary to create jobs for all the new recipients of equality being born every day. This doesn’t happen – job creation is a function of capital accumulation. Therefore President Obama may mean well by ending inequality, but he isn’t even remotely oriented in the right direction to improve America’s economic future.
*-Coming from a man who griped about how hard it was to get by on $460K/Year this is dare I hazard the pun; rich.