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Reblogged:Conservatives: Read and Heed

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With capitalism under heavy bombardment from the left, it was refreshing to see John Stossel's latest column (in which he quotes Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute), titled "Moral Capitalism" (or something equivalent in at least two outlets I am aware of). Here is the opening:

Presidential candidates and the media keep telling people "it's immoral" that a few rich people have so much more money than everyone else.

They talk as if it doesn't matter what the rich did to get the money. Instead, the fact that they are rich is itself immoral.

Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute says this is lunacy. "They want to condemn the people that actually have moved civilization forward," Brook complains. "People who improved the standard of living for everybody on the planet."
Stossel quotes Brook again, crucially, on the small matter of these improvements being due to win-win transactions.

Compare this to the following, typical conservative reaction to the kinds of prosperity-destroying attacks on America the Democrats are passing off as campaign planks:
justice.jpg
Image by JJ Jordan, via Unsplash, license.
Warren breezes past these and other objections with indignant slogans about billionaire "freeloaders." That's an odd term. In 2016, the top 1% of earners took home 19.7% of national income. They also paid 37.3% of all taxes, which was more than the bottom 90% combined. If you want to raise (income) taxes on the rich, go ahead, but you will never extract enough to fund the spending Warren fondly imagines. The only way to achieve a Scandinavian-style welfare state is to do what the Scandinavians do -- tax the heck out of the middle class.
Setting aside for a moment the propriety of taxation, notice how such a reply, couched in the altruistic assumption that trade is of no moral import, completely misses the gross injustice of the whole idea of soaking the rich -- something that is immediately clear from the Stossel column. It is beyond ridiculous to defend "the rich" based on how much money they have had taken from them in taxes. Worse, it puts advocates of capitalism in the absurd position of being on the back foot -- reacting to baseless claims that "the rich" have to hand out "their share" of loot, completely forfeiting the moral high ground and whatever amount some politician eventually decides is that "fair share." At the same time, the missing element of the agency of the common man in building the wealth of "the rich" is missing. We help ourselves through trade, and this might remind us that asking for more after the fact -- which plans like Warren's are -- is wrong. (And it might begin to stem our national epidemic of learned helplessness at the government teat.) If conservatives were serious about prosperity -- or self-reliance -- or justice -- they would scramble to adopt Brook's approach.

It is too bad the GOP will almost certainly have only Donald Trump to run against whoever the Democrats coalesce around. Someone with Yaron Brook's clarity and understanding of what is at stake would justifiably make that person look like a laughingstock to a significant number of voters, and at least give pause to many of the rest.

-- CAV

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