Friday, October 17, 2008

Of Wealth Redistribution

Here are just a few of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad fruits of wealth redistribution -- or if you prefer, "spreading the wealth:"

  • Paved streets.
  • Cops.
  • Soldiers.
  • The stealth fighter.
  • Fire fighters.
  • Public school teachers.
  • Traffic signals.
  • Guaranteed bank deposits.
  • Medicare.
  • Public school buildings.
  • National parks.
  • State parks.
  • City parks.
  • Bridges.
  • Interstate highways.
  • State highways.
  • World War II.
  • The CIA.
  • The FBI.
  • The VA.
  • The DHS.
  • Every dime of salary collected by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney since 2001.
  • Every dime of salary and health care benefits paid to John McCain since he entered the Congress in the 1970s.
  • Every dime of salary paid to Ted Kennedy since he entered the Senate in the 1960s.
  • The Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC.
  • The most recent Iraq War.
  • The least recent Iraq War.
  • Pell Grants paid to millions of college students over the decades.
  • The Jefferson Memorial.
  • The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
  • Public libraries.
It's a long list and yet I've barely scratched the surface. Everything listed here came at taxpayer expense, and that means it all represents a redistribution of wealth. At some time or another, a government agency collected some portion of Americans' private wealth and used it to fund every item on this list.

In turn, some of us have made use of these items while others have not. For example, I use public roads regularly, but I have never had to call directly on the services of a fire fighter.

Whether we like or dislike the items listed has no bearing on whether they have been funded by means of wealth redistribution. Suppose you cherish the bridge you cross on your daily commute and the crime-fighting work of the FBI. Suppose you hate the $10 billion per month spent on the Iraq occupation and would prefer that the Jefferson Memorial be razed and the site sold off to a burrito vendor. No matter -- redistributed wealth has funded all of the above.

I lay this out for the sake of hapless conservatives who might have stumbled across this precious, precious blog, as they are confused on this basic truth about political economy, and seem convinced that they're contributing something worthwhile by shrieking about redistributing wealth every time someone proposes fiscal policies they find disagreeable. We are well past the point of arguing over whether wealth will be or won't be redistributed by government. The only arguments remaining are (a) the amounts -- as in, whose wealth and in what amounts; and (b) the ends to which the money will be spent; and (c) the most effective ways of achieving those ends.


Ian McCullough said...

I would also note that a tremendous amount of basic scientific research is funded by grants from the NIH and NSF. The researchers I work with are doing cancer, Alzheimer's, ulcer (helicobacter), DNA base excision repair, left-right brain, and deafness research. Basic research is the upstream requirement for drug discovery and clinical applications.

Dale said...

Ian you nasty socialist you!!! How dare you take my wealth and use it for purposes that may or may not be my own!