Friday, January 22, 2010

On Feeling Good Over Living Good

The left, driven by rage and jealousy, is now ecstatic about Obama going after banks. Bankers are selfish capitalist fat cats, and they deserve whatever is coming to them, or so goes the leftist meme. But as businesses continue to be extremely reticent to hire, people have to be wondering - just how is Obama going to "stimulate" the economy with more regulations, higher taxes, more handouts to unions, more welfare, more environmental restrictions for industries, more useless and unproductive "green jobs," more nationalization, more economic insanity? The sad answer is - he won't.

The fundamental problem with most people on the left, and more specifically, those on the left whom we might call "non-ideologues," is that they feel solutions to problems, they don't think them. A leftist will label a banker "selfish" or "greedy," when a banker's greed is beside the point. Does the banker provide financial services that investors, depositors, and creditors desire? If so, he will have clients. If not, he won't have clients. It's that simple.

The same goes with businesses. Does a "greedy" businessman provide a good or service that people want at a price they can afford? If the answer is yes, all other things being equal, he will get business. If not, he will go out of business.

So while leftists are obsessed about profits, they hardly seem to mind all those small business owners who go out of business, whose dreams are being crushed by the toxic environment that government interference creates. The U.S. government, under Obama now just as under Bush, rewards those with connections, rather than providing an environment (specifically, protecting private property) that just rewards those with ideas and initiative (see a great show by John Stossel on "Crony Capitalism" for more on this).

The bottom line is that while leftists obsess over such emotional intangibles as "selfishness" and "greed," they miss out on the material and evidential fact that if the rich have more money, there are more jobs and more opportunities. That is because, in a system with sound money (and one cannot have sound money with a central bank controlling the print of fiat currency), the wealth of fat cats and "greedy" businessmen and bankers is a proxy for the overall success of the economy. It shows that there are goods and services that people need or desire being produced, and more specifically mass produced (implying that people need money in their pockets to buy them).

But liberals would rather emotionally lecture us on how evil we are for wanting to get ahead, and would rather interfere with the free exchange of goods and services and ideas, than allow people to pursue their dreams in relative peace without harassment by the government or the confiscation of the fruits of their labor. Third party statists claim that they are here to "help," but always offer an eking out of existence to their clients, rather than an opportunity to work and move up in a business. No one ever got ahead on welfare - so why not just stop taxing businesses and get out of the private sector's way? The thought never occurs to "compassionate" leftists, whose sole reason for existence is to meddle and to claim some vicarious glory in other people's successes. And it must be frustrating as hell when those meddling kind of successes never come.

When one is driven by emotion rather than reason, no amount of evidence for the failure of one's ideas to be successfully implemented in reality is sufficient to persuade one that he is off-base. There is always "next time," another crisis (usually caused by the government) to be taken advantage of to try hare-brained, radical ideas. But such is the sheer existential desperation of the radical left: If it cannot make the world into a utopia, well damn it, it is going to burn the world down trying.

This is a juvenile and disconsolate view of the world that people should reject. While one may never attain public glory (and this is a shame) for inventing some new toy that makes a child happy, or a new kind of plastic that preserves food better than any other, or even less likely, just for bagging someone's groceries with a smile and enthusiasm, the capitalist system is not a "heartless" and "cruel" economic. It is what free-willed individuals make of it.

And perhaps this is where we see the hypocrisy of the left most clearly. While the hard left talks the talk of altruism, few of them walk the walk on a regular basis. That is because one cannot be altruistic and successful unless someone is sponsored by others, through the church, a charity, or through coerced government money. Such altruism damages the economy at large, because it takes capital that could have been put to productive use, and instead, throws it down a pit. Instead of hard times coaxing a lazy individual to work, wherever he can find work (and in an unobstructed market, we can be 95% sure that will) he is coddled. And instead of an individual rendering a good or service in exchange for kind, a good or service is bought up with imaginary money, given to him by the government or by someone else. And even worse, that individual comes back for more ill-gotten money, sometimes because the leftists have ensure that he must, and he and the economy are no better off in the long-run as a result.

Now I ask you, which is more compassionate: A "selfish" capitalism that ensures that a person earns what he takes, or a "compassionate" socialism that subsidizes failure and nearly guarantees a life half-heartedly spent?

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