In government, it is never the politicians and the bureaucrats who are greedy. It is everybody else who is selfish, uncaring, thoughtless, and avaricious. The left contends that free-market capitalism is consumed by greed while dismissing the daily regulatory encroachment by the state to add to public coffers. For years, New York State has been charging residents to stargaze at public parks. Local governments are installing rainwater taxes. A portion of Americans’ incomes is confiscated. It is the government that pickpockets the citizenry, seizing the wealth of everybody in one form or another. And good luck trying to abstain without the threat of a substantial fine or imprisonment. So, who is the greedy Gretchen?
A Zero-Sum Game
To the left, capitalism is a zero-sum game whereby somebody wins and somebody loses a la Gordon Gekko. Opponents proffer that the system that has afforded them the luxury of tweeting their disdain for capitalism instead of toiling in the fields ten hours a day gathering food is oppressive, exploitive, and downright sexist and racist. There are economics courses in colleges today that profess how the free-enterprise system is bigoted and misogynistic. Some will go as far as comparing the process of voluntary exchange as fascist. And then there are people like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) who claim that capitalism is about taking and those fundamental economic principles that have been integral to our prosperity are wrong and outdated.
A Compassionate Government
Leftists will posit that the government has the power to be an altruistic institution that has the paternalistic obligation to take care of you from the cradle to the grave. To fund nannyism, the Leviathan must commit grand larceny by taking from the rich and the middle-class. The irony may be lost on the left, but grabbing from John Kimble’s earnings to redistribute to Douglas Quaid is justified because it is for the greater good. It can be equated to breaking into somebody’s house, stealing all their belongings, and then donating these assets to the nearest shelter. Politicians have essentially delegated themselves a right that they do not possess all because, according to progressive orthodoxy, the kindest words in the English language are, “Hi! I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
The Reality of Life
The age of enlightenment amplified the importance of reason and logic, two attributes that have contributed to the advancement of Western civilization. By now, it is evident that they have become relics of the past in favor of emotions and silly phrases like “my truth.” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s statement that it is more important to be morally right than factually correct will soon be the basis of Western thought, and that is a frightening prospect because it is how you can justify some people being more equal than others. Under the hierarchy of oppressed people, for instance, a black transgender person is more equal than a straight Asian man.
This can easily translate to the economy as a bureaucrat might dismiss the subjective value and dictate to the public what goods and services are necessary and unnecessary. Or, if certain businesses wish to operate within the confines of a deeply regulated framework, then they need to pay a levy. And, if consumers wish to patronize these companies, then they must pay a consumption tax. Eventually, the state mirrors the Venezuelan government and accuses the producer and the buyer of being greedy and the enemies of the common man.
“Nobody needs 23 different types of deodorants!” the politician cries.
Soon, the government becomes greedy for both opulence and power, imposing a mix of price controls and production quotas that are meant for the benefit of those being exploited by the market. You know how the rest of the story plays out: misery, suffering, and unhappiness.
Legendary economist Thomas Sowell wrote:
“People who are forever ready to charge others with ‘greed’ never apply that word to the government. But, if you think the government is never greedy, check out what the government does under the escheat laws and eminent domain.”
You could add a myriad of other legislative efforts to the list, from the tax code to the Green New Deal.
Don’t Tread On Me
Anytime you watch a primary debate or listen to the Democratic candidates speak, it is the same old song and dance routine of demands and entitlement. They may believe they are benevolent, acting in the best interests of millions of Americans by lavishing them with free stuff. Should you decide to disagree or keep your hands in your pockets, you will be accused of greed. All these folks cannot seem to explain why it is greedy to want to keep the fruits of your labor, but it is not greedy to wield the state weapon to purloin another person’s money. Of course, at the same time, you will not see these privileged officials lead the charge and donate to the Treasury – it is always somebody else who has to do it first.
Read more from Andrew Moran.