Wrong state of mind 2

Why do economic achievers, like George Soros for instance, who made their splendid fortunes because they had the freedom to do so, want to close that freedom to others? Or to put it another way, why do some who have benefited spectacularly from capitalism then go and vote for socialism and promote anti-free market causes?

We don’t know the answer to that question. There are a number of possible reasons, one of them being that a person might be very good at making money and yet be quite stupid.

Here’s an example of a German magnate who believes that individuals should not be allowed to make decisions for themselves, that bureaucrats know what is best for everybody, and the state should control and distribute the resources of the nation. He speaks for hundreds of millions of Europeans, which is why many European countries – Greece is a case in point – are facing economic ruin.

The story is told in Investor’s Business Daily. We emphatically agree with the editorial opinion.

An ultrawealthy German criticizes private charity, saying it takes “the place of the state.” More disturbing than the statement itself is the sad fact that many in the Western world agree with him.

Der Spiegel reported last week that “Germany’s super-rich have rejected” an invitation to join Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s “Giving Pledge,” in which the wealthy promise to give away a majority of their fortunes “either during their lifetime or after their death.” Wealthy Germans, Spiegel says, believe “donations shouldn’t replace duties that would be better carried out by the state.” Among them is a bitter Peter Kramer.

“I find the U.S. initiative highly problematic,” Kramer, a Hamburg-based shipping magnate, said in a Spiegel interview. “You can write donations off in your taxes to a large degree in the U.S.A. So the rich make a choice: Would I rather donate or pay taxes? The donors are taking the place of the state. That’s unacceptable.

What is apparently acceptable to these wealthy Germans is the unlimited authority of the state and the prerogative it’s given itself to restrict people’s choices.

“It is all just a bad transfer of power from the state to billionaires,” Kramer continues. … “What legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow?”

Is it legitimate for the state to demand wealth from some so it can give it to others? …

Money handed out by the state is taken from productive citizens, then distributed through the corrupt and inefficient system of politics … It’s a system based on coercion.

Even better than private charity is private enterprise. Markets meet needs by creating wealth and growing economies. No system can match capitalism in its ability to bring prosperity to so many.

While there’s a place for charity, it’s merely a patch and should be used with great care. There’s no place, though, for forced redistribution. What’s chilling is that so many still believe there is.

Posted under Commentary, Conservatism, Economics, Europe, Germany, liberty, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, August 17, 2010

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