You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
I recently posted this quote on my blog, which prompted a (liberal) reader to write the following comment: “All the indications are that the USA doesn’t really need to ‘multiply’ its total wealth; indeed, that it would be a bad thing for the world if it did. But rather, that what wealth it has might need to be spread more evenly among its citizens.”
I found this comment to be a fascinating glimpse into the liberal mind. Apparently, the writer truly believes what he wrote: Your wealth should be spread more evenly among everyone.
What IS this obsession the left has for stealing people’s money? Because let’s face it, “spreading the wealth” is simply a euphemism for government-sanctioned theft.
It makes sense that if you give people stuff for free, it takes away their incentive to get it for themselves. If you provide someone with free money, who in their right mind is going to give that up by earning their own money? And of course the law of unintended consequences dictates that the more money you take away from someone, the less incentive they have to earn more. Why should someone work harder and make more money if the only result will be that the government takes it away?
C’mon, folks, this isn’t rocket science.
I’m assuming the writer of this comment truly sympathizes with the poor and genuinely wants to alleviate their distress. I’ll assume he feels that wage-earners are being selfish for wanting to keep all their money and not spread it around to those in need.
Trouble is, this sympathy for the plight of the poor works on the assumption that wealth is a limited resource – a single pie, if you will – that is shared by everyone. This is a common but erroneous fallacy.
Wealth is not a single pie in which the poor get smaller and smaller slices whenever the rich get richer. Rather, wealth is a whole bakery of pies in which you can get another pie whenever you work hard and make money enough to buy one. The poor can usually get into that bakery too, through thrift and hard work and sensible decisions (this is known as pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps).
What about circumstances when there isn’t any pie available? In other words, under what circumstances is wealth restricted? Why, it’s quite simple: Wealth is restricted whenever government decides to “share the wealth” among everyone, or keep wealth for itself. If you look at most poor societies, they are usually poor due to a tyrannical government that limits resources. Where tyranny exists, misery and want remain.
It’s easy to look at countries such as Zimbabwe or Somalia and see how a corrupt government limits the pie. But tyrannical governments don’t just exist in Third World countries. Our own government offers selective tyranny that keeps people poor by offering welfare (which fosters inescapable dependency), implementing excessive rules and regulations (which limits creativity and free-market enterprise) and by increasing taxes (which reduces incentives and profits). In short, the finger of blame for much of the world’s poverty can be pointed squarely at government, either directly or indirectly.
From a personal standpoint, I know for a fact that my husband and I work extremely hard for the money we make. We’re not wealthy; in fact, we frequently hover near the poverty line. It’s natural, then, that we resent the forcible removal of our money in the form of higher taxes, which is then given to unknown recipients. We prefer to spread our wealth under our terms.
But this isn’t good enough for liberals, who want to spread our wealth under their terms. They take a dim view of people’s desire to keep or distribute their own money as they see fit. Liberals don’t feel people are charitable enough, and therefore prefer to use government-sanctioned tyranny to do their dirty work for them. By “dirty work,” I mean forcible removal of your money for government-approved distribution.
Walter Williams wrote, “Many Americans want money they don’t personally own to be used for what they see as good causes. … If they privately took someone’s earnings to give to a farmer, college student or senior citizen, they would be hunted down as thieves and carted off to jail. However, they get Congress to do the identical thing, through its taxing power, and they are seen as compassionate and caring. In other words, people love government because government, while having neither moral nor constitutional authority, has the legal and physical might to take the property of one American and give it to another. … The unanticipated problem with this agenda is that as Congress uses its might to take what belongs to one American to give to another, what President Obama calls ‘spreading the wealth around,’ more and more Americans will want to participate in the looting. It will ultimately produce something none of us wants: absolute control over our lives.”
Look, we’re facing some scary economic times in our country. I would far rather spread my own wealth to the elderly lady down the street who needs help, than have the government spread it to ACORN or Planned Parenthood. Wouldn’t you?
As for those who are truly wealthy, we should look to their circumstances as something to emulate.