Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Socialism

Someone emailed this to me:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
5. 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 is the beginning of the end of any nation.


Greg said...

I agree with the essence of what you're saying here. If we pay more and more people to be unproductive, then necessarily the entire productive capacity of the economy will shrink over time. This is happening to some extent in the US, and we definitely need to stop handing out so much money to people who do not produce anything. I am politically opposed to entitlement spending as well as many other large federal programs.

I believe, however, there are a few dated economic fallacies in the argument you are making.

The idea that "The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else," dates back to a time when the US monetary system operated on a gold standard. In those times, there was a limit to how much the government could spend, and spending was funded by taxes. Since we have gone off the gold standard, however, and began operating under a fiat currency, spending is no longer constrained by how much gold is in the central bank, so the Fed and the Treasury are free to issue as much as they want out of thin air. For an explanation of this, check out Modern Monetary Theory. The result of all this is that the government CAN, in fact, legislate the poor into prosperity WITHOUT CORRESPONDINGLY legislating the the wealthy out of prosperity.

Marty Nemko said...

Good point, Greg. Thanks.

Marty Nemko said...

Of course, the post says you can't give money to someone without taking it away from someone else--when government prints more money, it IS taking it from everyone else. The more money you print the less buying power each existing dollar has.

Maria Lopez said...

One thing, the genetic improvement you sometimes advocate is a paternalist government intervention. You seem to feel this is justified on the grounds that it would make everyone better off if there were fewer stupid people.

I don't personally believe that such intervention will be cost effective, but other interventions such as providing iodized salt clearly do improve things for both the rich and the poor by increasing the intelligence of the poor.

Clearly some handouts might be justified if providing those handouts to certain people make everybody better off. A cynical example of this is that food should be provided to people who are in prison for committing multiple non-fatal assaults.

A not so cynical example is that the TVA, by providing an electrical infrastructure in the Tennessee valley allowed the folks who live there to contribute more to the national economy.

I don't, however, think there is anything wrong with the conservative presumption that government provision of any good needs strong justification.

Marty Nemko said...

Maria, the post nor I am advocating that government not spend any money. Limited government spending, of the types you describe, make good sense to me.

By the way, whether or not I agree with a comment that you make, I appreciate all your contributions--they're intelligent and passionate.

Becky Washington said...

I would never want to receive a welfare check.

I would love to receive a dividend check.

Just like the Alaskan Permanent Fund, government can give money to someone without taking it away from someone else if that money is earned.

Marshall Brain names 16 possiblities for governments to earn money here:http://marshallbrain.com/robotic-freedom.htm

Anonymous said...

Another little-known truth about socialism: You can't have a diverse society and a welfare state at the same time.

Socialism works best (if you can say that it works at all) in a homogeneous, aka non-diverse society. This is because in a homogeneous society, people see others as fellow members of their "tribe" and are more inclined to make personal sacrifices, like paying higher taxes, for the common good of their tribe.

In diverse societies, people see others as members of other tribes, and are less inclined to give of themselves to these other tribes. In the diverse USA, we are against socialism for people outside of our tribes, but for socialism for people in our tribes. For example, many business people are against paying higher taxes for national health care, but content to receive tax dollars in corporate welfare.

Dave said...

Using this logic, perhaps prosperous states with dynamic economies like New York, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Florida, etc. should declare independence. Half of the states in the Union are welfare states - ie. Alabama, Arkansas. Why should the others have to prop them up?

Will said...

You just described corporate cronyism in a nutshell. The idle rich rest on their laurels while everyone else works their fingers to the bone, only to have their pensions stolen and funneled to Wall Street criminals.

Apparently the only kind of Socialism were allowed to have is Corporate Socialism.

Dad said...

Hmmm. I just noticed everyone in that cartoon is standing at a bus stop, waiting for the bus. Refresh my memory--who pays for bus services again? Who employs the drivers? Who pays for the roads they drive on?

Epic fail son. Hang yer head

Old-Fashioned Romantic said...

Capitalism is becoming a dirty word. Phrases like "spreading the wealth" and giving "everyone an equal opportunity" are common these days. The media and the school system brainwash people into believing that they are entitled to so many things. If the U.S. continues on this path, then we may lose our country.

Look up Saul Alinsky's 8 principles to becoming a socialist state. The Political Port, the Resident, and Storm Clouds Gathering typically have amazing content.


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