One of the hallmarks of the leftist/progressive/liberal/socialist philosophy is wealth redistribution through the force of government. Leftists/progressives/liberals/socialists lament the enormous disparities of wealth and income that exist in American society. They believe, therefore, that a legitimate function of government is to take money from the rich and either keep it for governmental expenditures or give it to the poor and middle class, with the ultimate aim of achieving a more equal distribution of wealth in society.
One irony in all this, of course, is that redistribution and equalization of wealth has been one of the goals of the welfare-state way of life that statists foisted onto the United States almost 90 years ago and which has been the core principle of domestic political life ever since. Having enacted the progressive income tax in 1913 and then having adopted the welfare-state way of life in the 1930s, you would think that by this time the statists would have achieved their goal of wealth redistribution and equality.
But such is clearly not the case. Statists are obviously unhappy with the results of their own income-tax/welfare-state way of life. But rather than accept that their decades-old system has failed to achieve their aim of wealth and income equality, they criticize the “free market” and propose even heavier income taxation and welfare-statism.
Important questions obviously arise: What difference does it make that some people have more income and wealth than others? Why should it be the role of government to equalize wealth and income? Is it conducive to peace and harmony in a society to enshrine covetousness and political stealing within the political and economic system of a country?
There are obviously instances whereby people become rich in ill-gotten ways, e.g., through special government privileges or largess. If government gives a monopoly to a business, for example, protecting it from competition, that business is getting wealthy in a wrongful way. Or a company might become wealthy through tariffs or some other protection from competition. Or a company might receive contracts to wage America’s faraway forever wars. Or be the recipient of government subsidies or grants.
But all that is simply an argument to prohibit those forms of privilege or largess, not to establish a system of coercive redistribution and equalization of wealth and income on society generally.
Let’s talk about a genuine free market. No, not the system that we live under here in the United States that conservatives, liberals, public-school teachers, and mainstream journalists call a “free enterprise” system (which in actuality is a welfare-warfare state system). I’m talking about a genuine free market system — one in which there is no welfare-state (or warfare state), one in which people are free to keep everything they earn and decide for themselves what to do with it, one in which economic enterprise is free from governmental control and management, and one in which government is prohibited from taking money from people to whom it belongs and giving it to people to whom it does not belong.
In a genuine free-market system, there is only one way to get rich. That way is by producing and selling a product or service that other people are willing to pay for. If a person succeeds in doing that, he stands a chance of becoming wealthy. If he doesn’t, he stands a chance of going broke and having to find another line of work. Or he might produce or sell a product or service that earns him enough money to maintain a comfortable existence, even if he doesn’t become a millionaire or billionaire.
Thus, in a genuine free-market society, the consumer, not the government, is sovereign. Through their buying decisions, consumers decide who is going to stay in business and who isn’t. Consumers decide which companies and which people are going to be the millionaires, billionaires, or less-wealthy people.
Such being the case, how can it be said that it’s unfair or unjust for people in a genuine free-market system to have more when others have less? The reason that some people have more is because they have served consumers by providing them with goods and services that consumers have been willing to pay for. Such producers and sellers have increased the standard of living of all the people they have sold to. In return, they have become wealthy. What’s wrong with that? Why should they be punished for having benefited consumers? And if they are to be punished, what effect will that have on other prospective producers and sellers?
Moreover, as people become wealthy in a genuine free-market society, they tend to save some of their earnings. Those savings are put into banks, which then lend the money to businesses that wish to purchase better tools and equipment, which makes their workers more productive. More productivity means more revenue for the firm, which means higher wage rates for the workers. It also means more goods and services for consumers at lower prices.
How can any of that be considered bad, even if some people have more than others? In fact, in a genuine free-market society, standards of living of everyone are higher than they otherwise would be, especially for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. How can that be considered a bad thing?
The problem is that leftists/progressives/liberals/socialists see all this rapidly accumulating wealth and they can’t help themselves. They get overconsumed with envy and covetousness. They cannot stand the thought that some have more than others. They start out with proposals to tax only the rich and give to the poor (food stamps) or to the elderly (Social Security) or to the middle-class (school vouchers). But they inevitably keep going until everyone is being taxed, oftentimes exorbitantly, to fund the ever-growing welfare-state largess. In the process, capital accumulation begins diminishing. Standards of living become stagnant. In the worst-case scenario, the welfare-state system begins caving in on itself, with standards of living falling across the board.
The adoption of the progressive income tax/welfare state way of life was among the worst mistakes the American people ever made. Not only did it enshrine envy, covetousness, and political stealing into America’s political and economic system, it also interfered with one of the most rapidly growing standards of living in history. Perhaps worst of all, it caused Americans to begin living the life of the lie, a life that holds that the progressive income taxation/welfare state way of life is “freedom” and “free enterprise.”