The politics of envy 19

We see the “Occupy Wall Street” protest as a manifestation of economic ignorance and the politics of envy.

We find confirmation of our view at PowerLine, where Steven Hayward quotes from the great free-market economist Friedrich Hayek:

As we continue to fixate on the inchoate [“incoherent” would be more apt  – JB] but plainly radical demands/desires of the lefty-losers Wall Street Occupiers, this passage from Hayek’s famous chapter in The Constitution of Liberty on “Equality Value, and Merit” hits the spot dead on:

“When we inquire into the justification for these demands [to equalize all outcomes], we find that they rest on the discontent that the success of some people often produces in those that are less successful, or, to put it bluntly, on envy. The modern tendency to gratify this passion and to disguise it in the respectable garment of social justice is developing into a serious threat to freedom. Recently an attempt was made to base these demands on the argument that it ought to be the aim of politics to remove all sources of discontent. This would, of course, necessarily mean that it is the responsibility of government to see that nobody is healthier or possesses a happier temperament, a better-suited spouse or more prospering children, than anybody else. If really all unfulfilled desires have a claim on the community, individual responsibility is at an end. However human, envy is certainly not one of the sources of discontent that a free society can eliminate. It is probably one of the essential conditions for the preservation of such a society that we do not countenance envy, not sanction its demands by camouflaging it as social justice, but treat it, in the words of John Stuart Mill, as “that most anti-social and odious of all passions.”

It’s almost as if Hayek wrote this with Occupy Wall Street in mind.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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This post has 19 comments.

  • Don L

    Here I go again…LOL!  Hey, Jillian…perhaps I still haven’t figured out how to convey it to stir folks to seek information, but “economically-ignorant is it”.  Not just the idiot kids occupying the parks, but the leading anchors on every network and cable news and business show…totally stupid about economics.

    I just watched Ryan explaining his speech againsyt Nobama’s stimulus II plan.  He mentally, erroneously, separates ideology from economic theory…they are one and the same.  You are either socialist and government control or you are for individual choice and free markets.  This is the exact cause of the problem.  Our leaders have personalities that cannot accept that they know how to manage the economy and still have fee market capitalism.

    There is no such thing as a little bit of socialism.  The Lincoln war that ended State’s Rights, the 17th amendment that separated senators from their states and fostered lobbying, the curse of Hamilton and fractional reserve banking banking collapsed the checks and balances on the central government.  Even the so called Tea Party candidates are socialistic as they merely want to replace the fool on the hill not send earth movers to eradicate the hill…per the objectives of the Tea Party.

    I have recommended my site for economic inf several times.  If you’ve seen/read my offers…ask, if you haven’t, why you haven’t downloaded and read the 10 little books.  Is it so hard to overcome the conditioning…ignore anything to do with economics?  I wonder how many reading my comment can actually describe what capitalism actually is?  Why has it alweays worked and why has socialism always failed.  Why is there something called profiteering and nothing called can- lose-it-all-teering?

    In my wanderings and unofficial and unscientific research…95% of those I speak to all have an opinion and a feeling about the economy( 5% have no opinion or admit they don’t know  ? ).  And, of those 95%…few can actually tell you what the function of profit is…even the conservatives think its a bad thing…

    My site’s premise is that progressives took control of education staring over 100 years ago and history, civics and economics have been rewritten to their ends.  And, economics, the most important of the studies has been totally discombobulated…if you don’t know what free market capitalism is…you just won’t know you don’t have it until  its too late.  And, he, the government or private citizens, who has the gold makes the rules.

    As an aside…the only saving grace of all that sharia law thru the caliphate…no interest paid and totalitarian governments means failed economies…fingers crossed.

    Oh, if you overcome your conditioning:  Check out the library…you’ll finf Hayek’s books, Hutt, von Mises and many other great writings…all free!  Get the 10-Pack

    • Andrew M

      Agree in full. The opposite of socialism is not merely capitalism, but individualism. I will never accept any sort of enslavement to the government! It has a place and a purpose in civil society which it now far transgresses. And we as the electorate would be wise to oppose the re-election of any incumbent!

      • George

        Absolutely Andrew !

      • Don L

        Thanks Andrew.  It was Marx that gave it the moniker capitalism…it should have been individualism. 
        The OWS idiots don’t realize their grandparents, with a savings account, are capitalists. 

    • George

      I agree with everything except the part where you said “fingers crossed” —ha ha  ha ha      ,,,,,,,     Just pulling your chain dude.    I’m having my French Roast coffee gourmet blend with a double-shot of expresso. Yum yum—–ahhhhhhhhhhhh  !!!!!!     Hiccup !    Semper Fi  !!!!

      • Don L

        As long as you don’t pull the finger…Heck, as a letherneck, you wouldn’t know where the noise came from anyway!

        • George

          That’s almost as bad as being in the Navy at sea for years and suffering from salt water /salt air brain corrosion.    Anyway — I have to say GO SEALS   !!!  My kinda guys .   Remember the  Marines are a department of the NAVY  ( the MEN’S department ).     Semper  Fi   !!!!!!!

        • George

          At least it’s not as bad as joining the Coast Guard and spending your entire career chasing cigatette boats loaded with “nasal dust ” !    

        • Don L

          I tell ya…those Coasties work their butts off.  Besides the druggies duty, they serve and repair all the navigation gear…one heck of a crap but necessary duty.

          Radio…Hmmmm.  I’d be honored to have you call in!

        • George

          Yep, I’m only joking—those guys have their hands full .   The thing that truly irks me Don is that we have over 30,000 U. S. troops in   South Korea , and thousands more in other countries guarding their borders and yet our borders are wide open.  Here we have the inmates running the asylum .   Take care Don , I’m at the coffee shop now and I’m gonna load up on a double-shot of extra-bold blend coffeee————– getting my caffeine fix——— Ahhhhhh  !!!!

        • George

          The post below was regarding the coast Guard joke——- I couldn’t post under your post.     Gotta check out the java—aka –cup of Joe  !!!

      • Don L

        A Navy seaman was on vacation in Louisiana and wanted a pair of genuine alligator shoes. However, the local vendors were asking very high prices.  So the Army Ranger decided to go into the swamps and get his own alligator and then have the shoes made at a more reasonable price.  When he mentioned this to one of the shopkeepers, he was told that he might run into a couple of Marines who had decided to do the same thing.

        So the seaman headed into the bayou and a few hours later he saw the two Marines. They were standing waist deep in the water. The seaman then saw a huge gator swimming rapidly underwater towards one of the Marines.

        Just as the gator was about to attack, the Marine grabbed its neck with both hands and strangled it to death with very little effort. Then both Marines dragged it on shore and flipped it on its back. Laying nearby were several more of the creatures. The seaman then heard one of the Marines say, “Damn, this one doesn’t have any shoes either!”

        • George

          Ha ha — that’s almost as funny as the new requirement to join the Navy . All new Navy applicants must be over 6 ft  in height in case the ship starts sinking  close to the beach , you can simply wade to shore .  
                    Hey guy , in addition to your website you can start your own secular conservative radio talk show ———————now that’s a twist !   I’ll be your first caller .     

          Semper Fi !      Ooh-rah !!!!!!!!!

    • Andrew M

      The beauty of capitalism lies not in the ability to make profits, because although this is an important element of any business, this power attracts scumbags to corruption like moths to a light bulb. It also does not lie in satisfying the demands of Big Business, for maintaining their size is contingent on the strength of their lobbyists swaying bureaucrats to approve regulations which favor them.

      The beauty of capitalism is the free market, whose self-correcting nature allows midgets to rise and titans to fall. There is no surprise that old money perpetuates itself down the generation, but with capitalism comes the ability to make New Money – the freedom to create value with the work of your own hands, develop a niche in the economic machine, and use that niche to cut at the profit margins of the bigwigs.

      But this only works when you satisfy two conditions: corporations must survive on their reputations before their profits, and the government does not get to pick winners and losers. The moment a corporation can game the local authorities into satisfying their bidding is a step towards socialism – the poor lose their freedom to become rich yet grow rapidly in numbers, and the rich lose their freedom to become poor… until the poor eat the rich.

      Crony capitalism creates an environment ripe for the incitement of class warfare! Return your stimulus monies, demand your tax dollars back from GE, find a job and earn your value, lest we ever pursue this awful mistake again.

      • Don L

        Andrew, I understand the sentiment behind your posting…it seems familiar?  But, and it is not my intention to offend you in anyway, the message includes a distortion which I feel must be addressed as to not continue the error.

        Profit…the statement does respect that profit is important to the free market capitalistic idea.  Yet, it treats it as some necessary evil…which is then the source of attack.  Profit is the motivation for entrepreneurs who upon analysis take a risk on the future.  It is the anticipation of profit, as envision by an entrepreneur, that entices capitalists to risk their principal toward implementing the entrepreneurs idea.  Profit attained is indication from consumers that the entrepreneurs concept was correct.  Profit is given by consumers…it cannot be taken or forced.  It is the device in an economy by which consumers determine what should be made, how it should be made, where it should be made, what scare resources it should incorporate and the answers to many more production/distribution and marketing  oriented questions.  If the entreprenuers idea is wrong…consumers will deny profit and loss will be suffered. This economic concept, profit, does not attract scumbags.  Profit can only be earned.  The scumbags are attracted to theft. 

        Old money may or may not perpetuate itself.  It depends on how it is utilized/invested.  And, correctly, capitalism does allow for the creation of more wealth.   I purposefully did not use the term money.  One of the greatest errors of though is to think of money as wealth.  It is not.  It is a medium of exchange and solely represents purchasing power.  The things produced and owned are wealth.  A subtle distinction.  The confusion is fostered by tjhose who support government interference and purposeful inflation:  You get a $20 raise added to you $80 wage…but the cost of living has doubled…you have more money but it buys less.

        Socialist chronically and wrongfully paint wealth as limited…they do the same for availability of work…it is unlimited.  Minimum wage laws and union cronyism create unemployment…Gov’t makes it illegal to negotiate employment except at govt terms.

        Economics is human action.  It is people working to satisfy their self-interest.  The entrepreneur who achieves success, but sees a competitor satisfying consumers better may indeed attempt to get an elected official to uneven the table: tarriff, regulation, rule, etceteras.  It isn’t so much the requestee at fault is the elected official who does it for favor.  Microsoft never had a lobbyist until it came under the anti-trust attack…it was a phony attack…see Bill Gates support the Dems?

        Indeed, crony capitalism fosters class warfare. Corporations or sole proprieters…if they cannot satisfy consumers will and should fail.  This frees up resources to be employed more efficiently.  And, in no way can a bureaucrat, whether in a bureau or in the FED, ever replace consumers making choices freely in markets.  Yet, 99.9% of elected officials and those currently running believe they can.  What is needed is the person running for office that will not attempt to impose an ego and start dismantling the government decision making apparatus!

        Again, perhaps my comments about profit and money may seem differentially miniscule…I don’t believe they are.  Only consumers determine who profits.  Only hard work and providing good services or products can be profitable.  Any attempt to take money out of the market without doing that is just theft.  It is this latter the idea of the occupy wall street and all americans are against.  Unfortunately…they see it as seeking profit…it is not. It is illegal and should be punished.  As I have sorta mentioned before, the purposeful miseducation and distortion of economics and the resulting populace being economically-ignorant has allowed the criminals to be running the show…theft in plain sight!

        • Andrew M

          Just wanted you to know that my post was meant as an unwavering defense of capitalism as the strongest economic system out there, our current Keynesian-infested American economy be damned.

          “Only consumers determine who profits.”

          This is the gist of why Americans do not appreciate capitalism as much as they should. Alas, our current system of crony capitalism and union thuggery, where this statement becomes less and less true, leads many consumers to take such a dim view of “capitalism”.

          But you and I know better than to be fooled – companies must earn my business before they get my money!

          Bustin’ out a quote to wrap up this comment…

          “Capitalism undoubtedly has certain boils and blotches upon it, but has it as many as government? Has it as many as marriage? Has it as many as religion? I doubt it. It is the only basic institution of modern man that shows any genuine health and vigor. – H.L. Mencken

        • Don L

          Unable to post a direct reply to your reply…

          I salute you…we think alike!!!

  • Liz

    As always, ignorant people are so easily manipulated. Useful idiots. They think of themselves as well educated, but they are no less gullible than Christians. Just replacing god with government, and the devil with “big business”.  Hayek could describe them so perfectly even way back then because the con game of the socialists hasn’t changed!  It hasn’t had to, when there’s a sucker born every minute. 

    • George

      You’re right Liz.  Regarding your last sentence Liz ,———  actually there’s a sucker born every SECOND !