In praise of the rich 3

Communism:  “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.  A central authority with a monopoly of force – which is to say the state – must gather and distribute resources. Condition of the nation: serfdom and poverty.   

Capitalism: “From each according to his need, to each according to his ability”. You decide what you need and work for it by providing others with what they’ll buy. The amount you get will be the measure of your ability. Condition of the nation: freedom and prosperity.

 

Collectivism: Economic equality achieved at the cost of liberty. 

Individualism: The only desirable equality is an equality of liberty. My liberty should be limited by nothing except everyone else’s. 

 

Walter Williams writes at Front Page:

Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb, the phonograph, the DC motor and other items in everyday use and became wealthy by doing so. Thomas Watson founded IBM and became rich through his company’s contribution to the computation revolution. Lloyd Conover, while in the employ of Pfizer, created the antibiotic tetracycline. Though Edison, Watson, Conover and Pfizer became wealthy, whatever wealth they received pales in comparison with the extraordinary benefits received by ordinary people. Billions of people benefited from safe and efficient lighting. Billions more were the ultimate beneficiaries of the computer, and untold billions benefited from healthier lives gained from access to tetracycline.

President Barack Obama, in stoking up class warfare, said, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” This is lunacy. Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire produced the raw materials that built the physical infrastructure of the United States. Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft and produced software products that aided the computer revolution. But Carnegie had amassed quite a fortune long before he built Carnegie Steel Co., and Gates had quite a fortune by 1990. Had they the mind of our president, we would have lost much of their contributions, because they had already “made enough money.”

Class warfare thrives on ignorance about the sources of income. Listening to some of the talk about income differences, one would think that there’s a pile of money meant to be shared equally among Americans. Rich people got to the pile first and greedily took an unfair share. Justice requires that they “give back.” Or, some people talk about unequal income distribution as if there were a dealer of dollars. The reason some people have millions or billions of dollars while others have very few is the dollar dealer is a racist, sexist, a multinationalist or just plain mean. Economic justice requires a re-dealing of the dollars, income redistribution or spreading the wealth, where the ill-gotten gains of the few are returned to their rightful owners.

In a free society, for the most part, people with high incomes have demonstrated extraordinary ability to produce valuable services for — and therefore please — their fellow man.

People voluntarily took money out of their pockets to purchase the products of Gates, Pfizer or IBM. High incomes reflect the democracy of the marketplace. The reason Gates is very wealthy is millions upon millions of people voluntarily reached into their pockets and handed over $300 or $400 for a Microsoft product. Those who think he has too much money are really registering disagreement with decisions made by millions of their fellow men.

In a free society, in a significant way income inequality reflects differences in productive capacity, namely one’s ability to please his fellow man. …

Stubborn ignorance sees capitalism as benefiting only the rich, but the evidence refutes that. The rich have always been able to afford entertainment; it was the development and marketing of radio and television that made entertainment accessible to the common man. The rich have never had the drudgery of washing and ironing clothing, beating out carpets or waxing floors. The mass production of washing machines, wash-and-wear clothing, vacuum cleaners and no-wax floors spared the common man this drudgery. At one time, only the rich could afford automobiles, telephones and computers. Now all but a small percentage of Americans enjoy these goods.

In a free country, the rich are not rich because the poor are poor;  nor are the poor poor because the rich are rich.

Those are richest who serve others best. (In general, that is. There are of course exceptions, like George Soros.)

They create wealth.

So that, among free countries, where the rich are richest the poor are least poor.

As in the United States of America.

  • Liz

    We could also mention whoever invented DDT for saving millions of people from malaria, who now, however, are dying from it again thanks to idiotic environmentalist laws banning it.

  • Andrew M

    Great article which sums up the essential difference between freedom and bondage.

    The only critical example of “capitalism as a savior” missing from this article is Norman Borlaug, an American hero whose pioneering work in genetically modified crops saved one billion people from starvation due to poor crop yields. Actions of a genuine humanitarian nature emerge spontaneously from free individuals under the rule of law – all socialism produces are contrived and insincere handouts wrapped in veils of doublethink.

    • Jillian Becker

      Andrew M – 

      Thank you for mentioning Borlaug. We have a post about him : “A saver of mankind” (September 15, 2009)