Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Starnes Heirs and the Left’s Tribal View of Wealth

In its editorial on the eve of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, Obama's Robin Hood plan is overdue, the New Jersey Star-Ledger wrote this gem: “We are all working to build the nation’s wealth, but the elites are capturing virtually all the gains.” In response to readers’ comments, Tom Moran, the author of the editorial, said: “I don't regard the current distribution of wealth as given from God, or even the free market.”

Behind every statist, you will find collectivist rationalizations. How many people do you know of who start out for work with “the nation’s wealth” in mind? How many people do you know of who think of their property as a “capture” rather than their earnings? But that line of mental garbage serves a very sinister purpose.

I left this reply:

“I don't regard the current distribution of wealth as given from God, or even the free market.”

A nation’s wealth is not a collective tribal product. A nation’s wealth is the sum of the wealth created by productive individuals working, contracting, and trading freely in the market. To speak in terms of the proper “distribution” of wealth is to deny individual ability, effort, ambition, and ingenuity, and encourage a sense of entitlement. The tribal view of wealth is merely a rationalization for takers to get a “fair share” of the fruits of other people’s intellectual and physical labor; for prestige-seeking phonies to pose as champions of “economic justice” through redistribution of other people’s wealth; and for power-lusters to gain the power to do the distributing.

I wrote that last sentence with Atlas Shrugged’s Twentieth Century Motor Company saga in mind. The decline and collapse of that fictional, once-great company was driven by the Starnes heirs’ institution of the plan, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The saga was recounted in the tramp’s speech to Dagny Taggart, in which the tramp explains how the plan works to destroy human beings and who the real beneficiaries of Marx’s slogan are. Today we see real life equivalents of Gerald Starnes (the material parasite), Eric Starnes (the spiritual parasite), and Ivy Starnes (the power-luster) all around us.

The tramp’s speech is the best dramatization of Marx’s "From Each According to His Ability, To Each According to His Need" I have ever read.

Related Reading:

Atlas Shrugged—Ayn Rand

Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice—Craig Biddle

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