Liberty and Wealth

Had a couple very interesting exchanges on FB this week, which makes me wonder if I should re-post the link to this on FB like I normally do.  Anyway, most of this has been brewing in my mind for ages.  I may decide to break this up into 2 posts.

The first one started when I made the simple statement:

”Why is it acceptable for leftists to hate the rich with such venomous fervor, using blanket statements and racial prejudice, unchallenged by most? And of course, that excludes the ‘good’ rich like athletes, movie stars, musicians, Steve Jobs types, teenage entrepreneurs, Berkeley University professors, Europeans, etc. If conservatives started to go on MSNBC or FB or Twitter and spew garbage language at the poor simply for being poor, THEN it’s hate speech and pooh poohed?”

Now what prompted this was the aftermath of the election results.  There were so many ugly things posted on FB that I tried to ignore, but what I kept seeing over and over was this lashing out against rich, white men or the 1% and how Obama’s victory was something like a veiled threat that the mobs are coming to get you.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t so veiled.

There’s an obvious double standard when it comes to rich, white, men.  If Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil were to go on FB or Twitter and start writing ‘stupid, poor minorities.  You deserve what you get.  Stop crying over your life and get a job’, could you imagine the fallout?  He’d be crucified.  And yet, no one seems to think twice at comments like ‘Romney and the rich Wall Street elite are all a bunch of lying, stealing, raping b@st&rds that need to get out of their ivory towers and start paying up because we won.’

For those of you that don’t know, I’m not a wealthy person.  We’re a single income household by choice and we have 7 children to feed and train.  We love the size of our family and wouldn’t change it for all the gold in the world.  I don’t take any government subsidies or welfare because I’m morally opposed.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s only by God’s mercy and provision that my children have never felt like we’ve been poor.  We’ve never missed a meal.  Never been homeless.  They’ve always had plenty of toys and clothes and beds to sleep in.  But do they each have iPhones and laptops and gameboys?  No.  Even if I had the money, I probably wouldn’t spend it on those things.

But my wife and I have learned long ago to be content with what God has given us.  That’s not to say that we sit back and don’t work, waiting for manna to drop from heaven.  I work very hard.  I’ve put myself through graduate school while working full time.  I’ve sacrificed many evenings, weekends and holidays to make a name and reputation for myself with my employers and coworkers.

Regardless of whether you are rich or poor (which of course are relative standards anyway), I am deeply opposed to theft of property whether the perpetrators are dressed with a ski mask and a gun or wearing silk suits and employees of the State.  No one has the right to your property.  For any reason.  That includes your home, your land, your guns, your oxen, and most importantly, your person.

Now, some people mistake my opposition to theft as greed and think that I am somehow opposed to charity.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I think we are all called to be charitable.  I think a basic, fundamental, human response to seeing another person suffering or in need is a desire to help them.  My opposition is to the justification of THEFT in the name of charity because as I’ve said many times, if you don’t have the CHOICE to participate in charity and to what extent, it is no longer CHARITY and you don’t score any points of piety for participation.  To top it off, THEFT in the name of charity is most likely the least efficient way to affect change.  Study after study has shown that when a large, centralized, government with no accountability is in charge of collecting and distributing charity, you see rampant waste, corruption, and horrible rates of return.

Well, my statement above touched off a firestorm with one of my FB friends.  In the end, what I tried to get him to see was that there are good people and there are bad people.  There are thieves and there are saints.  There are people that work thanklessly behind the scenes because they take pride in their work or the people they help and are not just doing it for the paycheck.  There are others that will sell their grandmothers into slavery if it will afford them the hottest new car or toys or even a Big Mac.  My point is that putting the blame of all of society’s woes on everyone within an arbitrarily broad brushstroke is mental laziness and the reason we have such a divided country.  The wealthy are not all greedy, unscrupulous, Scrooges and the poor are not all helpless victims.

My friend brought up Enron and AIG and how they screwed countless people out of billions of dollars in savings and investments.  He went on about the greedy Wall Street types that fire low level employees just to inflate their stock price.  He was enraged about CEOs that took on too much risk and drove businesses into the ground and yet received ‘golden parachute’ exit bonuses.  But embedded within all of this anger was a basic premise of “being fair” – that overly wealthy executives are unfairly compensated, seemingly at the cost of lower paid employees or the gouging of customers.

As your grandparents might have told you, Life is not fair.  Nature is not fair.  And if by fair, we mean equal in every way, then I don’t WANT to be fair.  I really hope the NFL doesn’t start putting guys with my ability on the field to be fair because it would be really boring to watch.  I hope I’m not the standard used to determine who’s going to be the head surgeon in the ER because I get light headed at the sight of blood and innards (I barely made it through my wife’s c-sections and that was only because I was behind the veil.)   I don’t want to dine in restaurants where the chefs have my taste buds and culinary skills out of fairness because everything would be either really bland or way overly seasoned.

The problem is that the media and intellectual dullards have effectively brainwashed mainstream America, especially the young, into believing that stereotypes and blanket statements of hatred are okay as long as it’s directed at rich, white, men.  Throw in there southerners or country folk for good measure.  But they cry racism, sexism, prejudice, economic elitism, and more if you speak badly against their protected groups.

What I successfully led my friend to understand was that all the hatred and anger he had bottled up was really against evil people, rich and poor alike – that making blanket statements like “ENRON SUCKS” and throwing all of their honest, hard-working former employees under the bus was the equivalent of hating all blacks or women or cat lovers.

Wealth is an easy target but ultimately, it’s not the real culprit.  It’s something that seems harmless to attack because there are many more in the middle and lower classes than in the upper classes.  It’s also true that covetousness will erode people’s morals and pretty soon, we get to a place where we justify theft for the greater good.

I don’t covet others’ wealth or good fortune.  I don’t claim rights on any person’s property simply because “I need it”.  I can’t own anyone else’s person and subject them to slavery.

And don’t fool yourselves.  Those people that keep crying for ‘fair share’ and equality are the same people that will storm your front doors and ransack your homes if the power goes out for more than a couple days or a storm floods the streets cutting off food supplies from groceries.

I was literally schooled in the Milton Friedman / Chicago style of economics.  I’ve since departed in some areas of Friedman’s ideologies particularly where it comes to the FED and monetary policy.  But, Milton will always have a place near and dear to me.  Here’s a message that is short and sweet.

In a later clip, Donahue (who still doesn’t get it) assumes that if Milton had his way, he would tear down all of the systems and structures in place right now and setup his vision of how economies, society, and legislation should be properly set up.  Friedman quickly corrects Donahue in that he wants no part of forcing a system in place that is not established by mutual consent of those affected.  Liberty precludes anything short of totally voluntary participation and the use of force to obtain a desired result.  If the idea is so good and needed, people should be willing to participate of their free will.  Otherwise, there’s room for debate.

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4 responses to “Liberty and Wealth

  1. Great post, and it’s great to see you writing on your blog again! That Friedman clip is fantastic.

    One thing I would add that I don’t see too many people addressing, is that the anger may actually be justified in some instances, but it’s misdirected. So many blame capitalism, but what they’re actually opposed to is corporatism, businesses buying government favors and influence. What no one seems to realize is that this kind of corruption requires a government monopoly on force. I read a great example of this in the book “Confessions of a Lunatic Farmer” by Joel Salatin. I can’t quote it exactly, but he explained during a visit to his organic farm by his state’s governor that he’s not afraid of Tyson chicken. Tyson can’t storm in with guns to shut him down. It’s when Tyson chicken can lobby government to make regulations that make his chicken farming methods illegal that he ultimately can be shut down by people with guns. So it’s corporations making use of the government’s monopoly on force that is the problem. My anger is directed at government hired guns and the corporations that hire them.

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  2. That’s an excellent point, Tanya. Think I need to add Salatin’s book to my reading list.

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  3. Very much enjoyed this post. I have been engaged in understanding the fundamentals of liberty for some time and find the more perspectives I read the greater my understanding. I find this post timeless and it is full of ideas that inspire further thinking.
    I would like to make your acquaintance some time as I have a brother who lives in Allen that I visit from time to time.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And I wish you luck in your journey!!

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