Why redistribution fails

Trust Thomas Sowell to explain why government-forced redistribution always fails, and to do so in language so clear even a child educated in public schools can understand:

You can confiscate only the wealth that exists at a given moment. You cannot confiscate future wealth — and that future wealth is less likely to be produced when people see that it is going to be confiscated. Farmers in the Soviet Union cut back on how much time and effort they invested in growing their crops when they realized that the government was going to take a big part of the harvest. They slaughtered and ate young farm animals that they would normally have kept tending and feeding while raising them to maturity.

People in industry are not inert objects either. Moreover, unlike farmers, industrialists are not tied to the land in a particular country.

Russian aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky could take his expertise to America and produce his planes and helicopters thousands of miles away from his native land. Financiers are even less tied down, especially today, when vast sums of money can be dispatched electronically to any part of the world.

That’s it.

Romney’s problem as a candidate is that he does not know how to state this simple proposition and, instead, falls back on Hallmark-esque platitudes.

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  • jj

    Romney doesn’t seem to be able to explain that the sun’s out without requiring three paragraphs of convoluted verbiage.  I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with him, but he better get it straightened out PDQ. 

  • JKB

    There’s your problem right there.  We need to find language so simple even a child educated in the Ivy League can understand it.   Those from public school know this to be true.  Well, until it is educated out of them in their classrooms of privilege.

  • 11B40


    I’m no economist, but, at my Big Sister’s request, I took an Economics minor so that I could, as Sis put it, “figure out how to make a buck”.  One of the basic economic concepts that I don’t seem to hear of nowadays is what was referred to as “marginal analysis” which is pretty much what Dr. Sowell is alluding to.  It boils down to what fruit will the next incremental investment of my labor or capital bear for me. While many intelligent people question the concept of the economically “rational” man these days, most people have some idea about what will/might benefit them from their economic decisions and they do act in accordance with those ideas. 

    The good Doctor lays out the case for those on the productive end of the economic spectrum.  But, and especially these Obama days, those on the other end of that spectrum are also making their “rational man” economic calculations.  When more and more economic benefits become “entitlement” rights, food, shelter, education, child support, etc., what is the calculus that is likely to evolve.  For the nonproductive members of our society, the old “labor versus leisure” analysis might go something like this.  If I get so much in free economic benefits, what would impel me to give up, say 50 to 60 hours of leisure time each week for some additional economic benefit from the sale of that leisure time.  

    Now, I’m sure that a slide into welfare eligibility is something that many people would struggle hard to overcome.  But those already enmeshed, or those who see an opportunity to milk the public cash cow, might not be so inclined.  One of the bits of folk wisdom that my truck driver father passed on to me while I was growing up in the Bronx of the ’50s and ’60s was his description of a neighborhood as a place “where you don’t see menfolk during the workday.”  As unscientific as that observation may be, there is a fundamental truth revealed in it, does the local culture reflect responsible productive citizens or those otherwise engaged.

    I’m afraid that America is pretty much over.  The war against the producers is so deep and wide that it would be a hope against hope for there to be any significant turnaround.  Control of our government and economy is increasingly in the hands of people who refuse to admit that they are lost.


  • Danny Lemieux

    I understand your pessimism, 11B40…but go out and vote anyway! 

  • 11B40

    Greetings, Mr. Lemieux:

    In spite of still serving my deportation in a now one-party state, I will certainly do my duty in that regard.  I just can’t get past the idea that not only the elected government but the whole culture has lost its way and that the candidates that the Republican Party is offering don’t seem to understand that at all. Even if the Republicans controlled the Congress and the Presidency, the subversives so well salted throughout the government bureaucracy, our academic institutions, and the media conglomerates would continue their “well-intentioned” shoveling away on their 21st century road to socio-economic hell. Subversion, if not corruption, is the coin of the realm for those folks.

    Earlier this evening, I read the following over at the Powerline website:

    “Unless conservatives start taking education and culture seriously, an election day will arrive in which the outcome is never in doubt, because at least 51 percent of the electorate has been trained which way to vote.  At which point the GOP might as well close shop and take the rest of the century off.” 



  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    When the Left declared war on human progress, they weren’t kidding about totalitarian utopia and slavery for the masses, with a few intellectual elites making the decisions. They were quite serious about that objective. A seriousness which many people on the other side, did not take.