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Eamon Arasbard

Income inequality "key issue" for 2016

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Andie Holland,

 It seems you have quite a lot to say about income inequality, but so far, it's not very clear as to what the point of your argument is, other than, income inequality bothers some people and interferes with their opportunities. As you've suggested in post #20, social democracies of Europe, for all of their effort to close income disparities, has created a generally poor performing economy, with plenty of poverty at the bottom. That is, I think that's what you're saying. It's a little hard to tell.

 

But, honestly, let's look at what you wrote in post #18:

 

1. Does political power authorize black-market industries? I suppose you could argue that Al Capone bought permission to sell alcoholic beverages in Chicago as a special franchisee, but the market for booze existed, with or without Big Al. The government did not "authorize the creation of that market"? Regardless as to whether speakeasies and bootlegging had the "desired outcome as stated by the government," the only way to break up the monopoly of the Chicago Outfit was to open the market, by repealing the Prohibition Laws, not by taking away anyone's marketing privileges.

My point is that your assumption that "political power authorizes the creation of markets" earned you the snarkish response from alpha_1. But wait, there's more...

 

2. Anyone who writes enough published articles on economics can win a Nobel prize. So, who cares who for Kuznets' opinion? If you want to establish an "empirical entity," site some statistics and sources rather than overly-abbreviated theories. And then, you would be taken more seriously if you referred to them as "statistics."

 

3. Huh?

 

4. If by this statement, you're trying to say that capitalism, or free-market principles, has failed in comparison to Marxism, you're going to have to publish for than a few articles, siting sources, before any rational person accepts your argument.

 

 

I won't bother with commenting on your metaphors; I believe all's fair when discussing economics. But really, do you have to re-post the entire preceding articles, when they bare so little relation to your comments?

Social democracies worked for thirty years to create equality and prosperity. Then, it seems they got greedy, converting national wealth via taxation into investment instruments. For example, Finland's Nokia experiment failed because the Finns ignored that the popularity of their investment depended upon Niki Taylor avoiding car crashes after a night of par-tay. 

 

To compound matters, today's Europe has taken a Hooverite line of austerity that's hardly consistent with Keynesian social democracy. Again, even the Americans have done better.

 

1-Black markets are 'black' because they're unauthorized, governmentally speaking.

 

2-The importance of Kuznets was explained. In the 50's and 60's, the American zeitgeist was to decrease inequality; Kuznets's work attempted to show how this might be done wihtnin free markets.That this isn't your zeitgeist is another issue.

 

3-- See my intro. This is as simple as I can make it.

 

4-- Free market and Marrxist ideologies are what Kant called 'false antipodes' because they oblige an either-or choice in which both are absurdly wrong. In other words, things don't work in either one of two ways in which both of the choices are mental flufferies, or "unknown ideals".

 

Daring to Know means that all economies are essentially mixed between market permissiveness and government oversight. Therefore, the trick is how to put human ingenuity to work. Both repression and carte blanche are not, have never been, and  will be, an option.

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Andie Holland,

Markets exists; they exist where ever people who specialize in labor come together to exchange the results of their productivity for the goods and services of others. Governments do not need to exercise force of any kind in order to authorize markets. You appear to be unwilling to accept this simple fact, regardless as to any examples presented. If your premise is that only government is capable of authorizing markets, you are not paying attentions to reality.

 

As for the rest of your incoherent rants, say what you want. It isn't going to change the fact that you're the only one on this thread that believes that "income inequality" is any kind of major problem. Be proud that you are in such a special minority.

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Andie Holland,

Markets exists; they exist where ever people who specialize in labor come together to exchange the results of their productivity for the goods and services of others. Governments do not need to exercise force of any kind in order to authorize markets. You appear to be unwilling to accept this simple fact, regardless as to any examples presented. If your premise is that only government is capable of authorizing markets, you are not paying attentions to reality.

 

As for the rest of your incoherent rants, say what you want. It isn't going to change the fact that you're the only one on this thread that believes that "income inequality" is any kind of major problem. Be proud that you are in such a special minority.

 Because you accuse my post of rants, I'm saying that you're really not that bright. So I'll keep it reeeel simple:If you want to do business, you have to obtain a license. his includes corporations, who are chartered by each state.

 

States, cities, counties, and nations also control what might be marketed.

 

Now i realize that this is perhaps a bit over your head, but...Aristotle wrote that because humans are essentially zoon politikon (political animals), their natural tendency is to work out set, conventional agreements as to both exchange rates of labor against finished goods and distribution, or 'matadosis'. 

Only excess and non essentials were to be sold at market value, or kapelike.

 

This is the way that humans have lived for most of its history. 

 

lastly, your recourse to saying that 'I'm the only one who feels this way' is pure playground twaddle. 

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Hume wrote that the biggest confusion in philosophy was that of mixing Is/ought statements together.

 

In other words, what you're saying is that although inequality ought not be an issue, it clearly is.

 

Fair enough, but, per Hume, we should have two entirely separate discussions...

 

No - Inequality is not an issue no more than man made global warming is an issue or Intelligent Design is an issue.  Reality does not bend to people whims. 

 

Just because people hold bad ideas and perpetuate them does not make them legitimate.  They are to be treated for the nonsense they are.

 

Or to put it a different, you don't argue with someone by climbing into their fox hole when clearly it is filled with BS.  

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In the common lexicon, 'fascism' means a 'denial of democracy by force'. Now this doesn't say that the democratic process assures fairness, but rather the means of redress are embedded within the democratic process.

 

To say that all markets, everywhere and at all times function with government permission, sanction, control, and oversight is a statement of fact that needs no 'justification'. It is what it is.

 

Otherwise, state power = the monopoly of potential force. Again, a statement of fact.

 

Redress is embedded in a system of justice defined by moral laws, not public vote or mob rule. Social justice is a contradiction in terms.  

 

Markets are a fact of nature like any other scientific observation.  They exist whether there is a Government or not.    Economic laws are based on reality, not rules provided by someone arbitrarily.  Two people make a trade and Supply and Demand happens  based on economic forces we call the market whether  Washington wants it to or not, and whether Washington is is there or not.  That is like saying gravity needs a political system to support it.

 

See my lemon-aid stand example.  Obviously  the kid can build the stand or I could  have purchased the lemon-aid without the Government, and last time I checked I did do just that and no officials were in site. The economic forces that existed to make that work happened naturally due to scientific laws, not because the Department of Treasury was nice enough increase the supply of lemon-aid and increase my demand to be thirsty.  

 

With that in mind you can see how the idea that markets exists by permission and control of the Government is frankly a joke.  You might as well go tell a boiling pot of water it will boil by permission, control, and oversight of the Government. 

 

So yes - You need to justify how economic principles and market forces are products of Government oversight.

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The topic heading of this thread reads: Income inequality "key issue" for 2016.
 

Andie Holland, in terms so simple that you can understand, how much more useless and/or false information are you going to write here before you realize that income inequality will never be an issue that will turn an American national election?

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No - Inequality is not an issue no more than man made global warming is an issue or Intelligent Design is an issue.  Reality does not bend to people whims. 

 

Just because people hold bad ideas and perpetuate them does not make them legitimate.  They are to be treated for the nonsense they are.

 

Or to put it a different, you don't argue with someone by climbing into their fox hole when clearly it is filled with BS.  

Reality bends to people's whims to the extent that whims effect outcomes. In other words, if people believe enough that inequality is an issue, they'll vote for a party that promises more equality, ostensibly by taxing wealth and redistribution. 

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The topic heading of this thread reads: Income inequality "key issue" for 2016.

 

Andie Holland, in terms so simple that you can understand, how much more useless and/or false information are you going to write here before you realize that income inequality will never be an issue that will turn an American national election?

Boldfacing 'never' and saying that I need 'simple' terms only emphasizes the thin quality of your conjecture, as if you were gazing into a plastic crystal ball made for children, In Wallmart. Americans may or may not see inequality as an issue. 

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Redress is embedded in a system of justice defined by moral laws, not public vote or mob rule. Social justice is a contradiction in terms.  

 

Markets are a fact of nature like any other scientific observation.  They exist whether there is a Government or not.    Economic laws are based on reality, not rules provided by someone arbitrarily.  Two people make a trade and Supply and Demand happens  based on economic forces we call the market whether  Washington wants it to or not, and whether Washington is is there or not.  That is like saying gravity needs a political system to support it.

 

See my lemon-aid stand example.  Obviously  the kid can build the stand or I could  have purchased the lemon-aid without the Government, and last time I checked I did do just that and no officials were in site. The economic forces that existed to make that work happened naturally due to scientific laws, not because the Department of Treasury was nice enough increase the supply of lemon-aid and increase my demand to be thirsty.  

 

With that in mind you can see how the idea that markets exists by permission and control of the Government is frankly a joke.  You might as well go tell a boiling pot of water it will boil by permission, control, and oversight of the Government. 

 

So yes - You need to justify how economic principles and market forces are products of Government oversight.

The major problem with your first statement is that you assume to be the only possessor of said moral laws; in reality, this particular is open to the same genre of public debate that gives us democracy in the first place.

 

Freely translated: everyone who's even half smart can make their own pov seem 'philosophical' by using the word 'moral'. It's as good as putting lipstick on a pig or saying, "Look Mom, I'm talking philosophy (weeee.....)"!!

 

In other words, 'social justice' is justice that's arrived at through discursive practice with those who would openly challenge your ideas.

 

Yes, even Aristotle said that markets were 'natural'. It simply means that exchange rates are a matter of haggling, not fixed by custom or need. This is always an alternative within the species homo sapiens, and is done in some measure by everyone.

 

This is not the same as saying marketing is an economic 'law'. Rather, what is is to say that markets broadly conform to either 'Say's Law, Marshall's Supply and Demand, Jevonian Marginal Utility, Veblin's status consumption (S/D inverted), Nash equilibrium, Pareto Opthomality, Euler's Theorem (Krugman), Rational expectations, information a- symmetry ......none of which are like 'gravity'.

 

What Aristotle also said, however,  was that everywhere markets were under control or sanction.. for example, in his time, you could haggle (kapeleke) only at a certain place (Agora), time, price, and licensed content. For example, since Athens overproduced pottery, it was sold at a subsidized price to keep potters pottering.

 

Lemonade stands run by children continue to be treated with non-licensed indulgence to the day arsenic is discovered within, or that said stands serve as a front for the local teenage drug pushers.

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Lemonade stands run by children continue to be treated with non-licensed indulgence to the day arsenic is discovered within, or that said stands serve as a front for the local teenage drug pushers.

Spiral Architect's lemonade stand represents a popular form of non-licensed marketing. Government has been known to prohibit lemonade sales without regard to arsenic levels or testing, not because government has good reason, but because government has the guns.[ http://gawker.com/florida-man-asks-police-to-shut-down-kids-illegal-lem-1626192776] The application of selective enforce is one of the oldest forms of corruption, and rarely is it effective in preventing black market operations. Many black market operations are open for business. Government doesn't stop them. They may try. (My post #22 was an attempt to illustrate this fact, but it went right over your head.) They may pass laws, declare "War On (fill-in-the-blank)", but even in the most totalitarian economic models, black market operations thrive anywhere sufficient supplies exists and sufficient prices will be payed. It doesn't matter if it's lemonade, heroin, or other outlawed and/or controlled commodity. The vorovskoy mir operated for years in full view of Soviet law enforcement, supplying the demands of markets with or without any permission from Moscow. And they're doing it to this day. Ayn Rand illustrated this principle in Atlas Shrugged  with a sale of Rearden Steel to Kenneth Danagger.

 

You may be in denial of these fact, and that is your choice. But your assertion about governments commanding economic outcomes from the top down has not withstood the test of history.

 

This is not a rhetorical question: Do you really think any of this, this income inequality, is, or ever will be an issue that makes or breaks a presidential election, Andie Holland? Really?

Edited by Repairman

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Spiral Architect's lemonade stand represents a popular form of non-licensed marketing. Government has been known to prohibit lemonade sales without regard to arsenic levels or testing, not because government has good reason, but because government has the guns.[ http://gawker.com/florida-man-asks-police-to-shut-down-kids-illegal-lem-1626192776] The application of selective enforce is one of the oldest forms of corruption, and rarely is it effective in preventing black market operations. Many black market operations are open for business. Government doesn't stop them. They may try. (My post #22 was an attempt to illustrate this fact, but it went right over your head.) They may pass laws, declare "War On (fill-in-the-blank)", but even in the most totalitarian economic models, black market operations thrive anywhere sufficient supplies exists and sufficient prices will be payed. It doesn't matter if it's lemonade, heroin, or other outlawed and/or controlled commodity. The vorovskoy mir operated for years in full view of Soviet law enforcement, supplying the demands of markets with or without any permission from Moscow. And they're doing it to this day. Ayn Rand illustrated this principle in Atlas Shrugged  with a sale of Rearden Steel to Kenneth Danagger.

 

You may be in denial of these fact, and that is your choice. But your assertion about governments commanding economic outcomes from the top down has not withstood the test of history.

 

This is not a rhetorical question: Do you really think any of this, this income inequality, is, or ever will be an issue that makes or breaks a presidential election, Andie Holland? Really?

Yes, corruption and favoritism is always an issue. There's far more in Somalia than in Sweden, whereas Spain and USA fall somewhere in the middle.

 

So if in the next American elections it isn't, that's too bad, because it should be. Failure to regulate is not a viable reason to eliminate regulation. 

 

Parenthetically, permitting kids to sell lemonade w/o a licence is 'corruption', too, because it means they--unlike the far larger adult companies, pay no taxes.

 

As for Atlas, the story loops around the real history of American capital in the so-called 'gilded age', Chilean copper mines notwithstanding. 

 

Large industrialists and bankers were given cheep land and huge credits by the government which, in effect was practicing triage to obtain an oligopolistic means of production fit to a large scale-- that could compete with European industry. 

 

Fine. This is what is called 'state capitalism', a partnership.

 

What's disgusting is how the benefactors--boorish low-rents such as Morgan, Rockefeller, Carnegie, et al, took all the credit under the name of 'free' enter-prize and 'inititive'. A complete lie.

 

With the notable exception of Ford, workers failed to benefit, thereby requiring the government to intervene, based upon its own role in the economic boom caused by large-scale industrialization.

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Andie Holland,

Judging from your last post, you believe that American voters should be most concerned with initiating a state controlled economy, and judging from your comments on the "Jon Stewart" thread, American foreign policy should be one of abandoning Israel to its destruction by its enemies. Did I get something wrong in either of these assumptions?

 

Edit: May I also assume that you don't really believe income inequality will be a major political issue for 2016?

Edited by Repairman

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Of course "income inequality" in the sense that not everyone has literally the same income is unintelligible. Since mankind are not perfect clones of one another, there exists an inequality of abilities, values, resources, and so forth. This is the very basis of division of labor, and economic exchange itself.

But this is not what most people mean when they say they take issue with income inequality. In ordinary language usage, what people mean is more something like concern for a growing gap between rich and poor, and a shrinking middle class. This kind of concern does not count as "envy," most people are not simply begrudging others having more cookies, rather it's concern about a system that privileges some people over others. Economists have pointed out the numerous ways anti competitive measures and restrictions create the types of asymmetries of economic power. Economists have also pointed out that competition has a flattening and widening effect on capital accumulation in the market, and that wide gaps between rich and poor are usually evidence of barriers and privileges present.

The people that are concerned about economic inequality usually part company here, statist leftists presume that the free market causes these conditions, and that government controls are the cure. Many libertarians agree that the free market results in such wide inequalities, but try to brush them off by saying well it's not a big deal, it's not a problem, or denying that it exists altogether. Just read above in the thread to see that.

But these libertarians and including Objectivists in this, need to make up their mind as to whether they are defending the current existing form of capitalism, or a freed market. There are Objectivists in this very thread defending the inequalities of the current system as if they were virtues of the free market. Instead of conflating the two, Objectivists need to acknowledge the research and numbers and the economic diagnosis of the problem, and Objectivists need to focus more on liberty as the solution to these pervasive assymetries of power, rather than saying they are "not a problem." If you keep doing that, Objectivists will (rightly so) be brushed off by normal people as being out of touch with the workaday reality of people trying to survive out there, and be accused of being corporate apologists.

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2046,

 What sort of "political solution" would you propose? I'm not denying that income disparities exist, nor am I dismissing the matter as a subject of political discourse. But what would you prefer as a legal solution? That is, aside from a vague recommendation to "focus on liberty"?

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If you want to help the poor, there are plenty of legitimate needs to meet.

Get rid of minimum wage and politically mandated benefits, so that people can afford to employ unskilled laborers. For that matter, pull the teeth out of the unions. Get rid of the oppressive regulations that make it so difficult to start a new company or make a new product. Remove the pollutant restrictions on manufacturers; let them run at full throttle. Let anyone who wants to come here and work do so- quickly and efficiently. Stop funding college educations; just give degrees to those who can demonstrate the necessary skills!!

Don't give the poor fish and don't teach them to fish, either; just get out of their way. Americans will still rally behind that idea.

All it takes is someone with the guts to say it.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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Economists have pointed out the numerous ways anti competitive measures and restrictions create the types of asymmetries of economic power. Economists have also pointed out that competition has a flattening and widening effect on capital accumulation in the market, and that wide gaps between rich and poor are usually evidence of barriers and privileges present.

Exactly! I know TONS of poor people who, if the government gave them an inch of breathing room, would be DOING things right now; making new companies, new products and services; finding new ways to create value.

The fact that it's so difficult for someone to do that, today, is not because of the "free market"; it's because there isn't enough of it!

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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... TONS of poor people who, if the government gave them an inch of breathing room, would be DOING things right now; making new companies, new products and services; finding new ways to create value.

Could you provide a concrete example... the more concrete and detailed, the better.

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I share your skepticism.  A lot of poor people would get jobs if government didn't interfere, but few, I suspect, would become entrepreneurs.  To learn about some who have, see ij.org.  The Institute for Justice is a libertarian legal firm that litigates on behalf of small business entrepreneurs (among other clients).

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I share your skepticism.

Yes, a little skeptical, but mostly curious to know what Harrison had in mind.

 

... some who have, see ij.org.

Yes, I've read about IJ cases in the past, and they're excellent examples of the government stopping small and tiny entrepreneurs.

If one looks at the third world, there are lots of poor entrepreneurs. There are vendors who do not have enough working capital to buy a single day's worth of goods. A cigarette seller sitting at a bus-stop might sell for a few hours and then send their kid to go buy fresh stock from a slightly larger cigarette stall one block away. These days, as more third-world women go out to work, others are starting in-home day-care and home-cooked meals, all with virtually no de facto regulations.

I don't know how much of that can translate to a modern industrialized economy, but I have no doubt some of it can.

Edited by softwareNerd

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I don't think new entrepreneurs think much about regulation at the get-go, so I doubt regulation directly plays a part in who (and how many) will try to become entrepreneurs. Of course, indirectly, regulation kills opportunity, which will lower the number of people who might have seen new entrepreneurial opportunities.

It's after you get going that regulation kills entrepreneurship. I remember a story on NPR featuring a woman who sold secondhand luxury handbags on eBay. She was going to close shop because she knew she wouldn't be able to track tax info and compliance for all 50 states over the Internet, if such a law requiring her to do so were to pass. Or, sell food on the street during a festival, get slapped with a big fine from the police, and decide that's not worth trying again (decision strengthened with a quick look at the ambiguous and lengthy fine print of street food selling laws). Etc. Etc.

Wantrepreneurs are busy enough figuring out their business, customers, and competitors, and then regulations seem to never stop surprising, interrupting, distracting, stalling. After a while, many probably give up trying.

Edited by JASKN

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I haven't read the thread, but, there are already private lenders in a free market.  You can go to a savings bank for a small business loan or go door to door and ask a neighbor, friend, or somebody else for money.

 

Why should the government do what private agencies already do?

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Could you provide a concrete example... the more concrete and detailed, the better.

There's one guy I grew up with who- despite his flaws- has always been very ambitious. In school we used to talk about starting a business to make all of the cool new inventions that had recently become possible; new ways to apply old ideas (like fully automated fast-food that would actually be fast). At one point he made a serious attempt to start his own lottery (having worked it out mathematically), until he learned that the state of Minnesota forbids it. He was more recently working towards a medical degree, with an eye towards opening his own practice, when he was arrested for selling heroin. As you can probably infer, he was going to have problems with or without the government's interference- but it did make them significantly worse.

Other examples come to mind, which share the same essential qualities, but none in any similar degree (his case is the most striking). A large portion of the people I grew up with seem- just from my own experiences- to be having much difficulty in their attempts (however clumsy) to thrive, or even to hold gainful employment. My neighbors and I have all struggled with jobs in the past year.

We're always hearing about "inequality" with the implication that the poor want handouts and I really think it's worth noting- as someone who's known a lot of poor people- that except for a couple of overly vocal yahoos, it's just not true.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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A lot of poor people would get jobs if government didn't interfere, but few, I suspect, would become entrepreneurs.

True. In retrospect, "TONS" was a slight (!) exaggeration; I know a few.

Economists have pointed out the numerous ways anti competitive measures and restrictions create the types of asymmetries of economic power. Economists have also pointed out that competition has a flattening and widening effect on capital accumulation in the market, and that wide gaps between rich and poor are usually evidence of barriers and privileges present.

Broad fiscal inequality may well indicate such tribal priveledges. It seems likely to me. If so then they- and not their symptoms- are what needs to be addressed.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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We're always hearing about "inequality" with the implication that the poor want handouts and I really think it's worth noting- as someone who's known a lot of poor people- that except for a couple of overly vocal yahoos, it's just not true.

While it's heartening to hear about the poor people you know who do want to work, I don't think this is true. At minimum, you can figure that the existence of the welfare state in its current mass implies that there are multitudes who do want handouts. But also, my own anecdotal experiences clashes with yours -- here in Ohio's capitol, everywhere you go you see, intermingled amongst worker-types, the kind of person who doesn't just want but expects a handout, if you know how to spot them, and it's much worse in certain neighborhoods.

Edited by JASKN

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Whenever I hear a politician talk about how he/she helped small businesses, it's usually how they directed government funds toward special friends, who fall short of creating the promised numbers of wage-earner/taxpayers.The above views expressed by  JASKN and Harrison D are both valid; as a matter of personal observations and experiences, I can't disagree with either. And many of the possible policy changes suggested in the preceding posts could be legislated, if there was the popular appeal to force legislators to act on it. Transferring our current mixed economy into a more unregulated capitalist economy will continue to be a daunting, if not impossible task, if voters continue to interpret "capitalism" as a pejorative term.

 

Can someone step forward, someone with the popular appeal of celebrity status, and espouse the virtues of private enterprise? What is needed is some sort of popular movement, fronted by some high-profile public figure to express the sentiments:

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for yourself!"

 

If we're talking about a political solution, it will likely follow a cultural movement, one might say, a philosophical movement.

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