Monday, October 13, 2008

You Can't "Spread the Wealth Around" With Government

When a plumber asked Obama, "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" and then complained that he was being taxed "more and more for fulfilling the American dream," Obama replied, "It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success too. My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Let me translate that from political speak into regular-person speak: "How can you be so incredibly selfish as to want to keep more of your money! Don't you know, you selfish bastard, that it is your duty to let me take your money and give it to others as a way for me to gain political power by appearing to be generous?"

Of course, this exchange belies Obama's rhetoric about being for the workers, as what else would you classify a plumber? Pay attention, those of you who are modestly successful, as Obama will take your money.

Let me address his phrase, "spread the wealth around." This gets at Obama's basic political ideology, which is generally anti-economic. First, it is literally impossible to spread wealth around. You can redistribute money, but wealth is something other than money. Money is merely something with which we are able to efficiently engage in exchange. Certainly, it is far more efficient than what it replaced: barter. But barter really gets at what wealth truly is. When I go to trade one item for another, I am trying to trade the item I have for something I value more. When I find someone who has what I want and who wants what I have, we trade, and each of us is better off. Each is now wealthier. The exchange of money masks this reality, because people think we are trying to accumulate more money. We're not. We're trying to acquire things and services which make our lives better. Better in what way? That is up to us. Better by whose definition? Well, now, there's the stickler. People like Obama think that they are eminently qualified to decide if you or I is better of from our exchanges. If he disagrees, he makes the decisions for us. If he does not like the fact that I provide a good or service that enough people want that they are willing to pay me more than someone else for their good or service, then he will take the money I have accumulated by free exchange with others, and give it to those who have been less successful at providing good and services. In other words, he intends to reward failure and low-value goods and services for being low-value goods and services. He doesn't like the fact that we have decided that one person's goods or services are more valuable than another person's. Thus, he will distribute the money temporarily accumulated by such people as he disapproves of to those the society has already deemed as providing less value to that society. Thus, Obama will not spread the wealth around, but rather reduce the wealth of the country. That is the real consequence of redistributionist policies.
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