Comments Posted By Conrad
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@ D Rickey: What that explanation boils down to is pure mob rule. It says, in effect, that even though "society" has, up to this point, seen fit to allow you (or your family) to accumulate wealth, society can at any time decide you've had enough of the good life and take it all away. Or, it can do something in between, such as tax the hell out of you while still allowing you to retain a better-than-average pile of dough.

I would call that philosophy "mob rule" because at its heart lies the notion that the individual is completely at the mercy of "society" when it comes to keeping the fruits of one's own labors.

It's no answer to say that society, by virtue of having created social conditions that made it possible for you to accumulate wealth, is thereby entitled to take your wealth away. That would be paradoxical: If society reserves the right to deprive you of the fruits of your own labors, then it ipso facto has not "created social conditions that made it possible for you to accumulate wealth."

It makes no sense to speak of a "society," i.e., a system of rules and customs, that reserves unto itself the right to dispense with rules and customs as the price you pay for enjoying the benefits of such a system of rules and customs. And whereas arguably the most fundamental of all of society's rules and customs is the idea that you get to keep what you earn, you simply cannot square that right with the notion that society can take what you earn at any time as the price you pay for having been allowed to earn it in the first place.

Society enforces contracts, jails thieves, etc. so that people can pursue their individual happiness in relative peace and with the assurance that their efforts will not be looted by marauding mobs. I don't think even "the left" (certainly not as we think of the term in this country) rejects the idea of property rights. Again, that would be tantamount to supporting mob rule.

I think the real crux of the difference between the left and the right, in contemporary political terms, is the scope of things BEYOND enforcing contracts, jailing thieves, building roads, etc., that the two sides consider to be within the appropriate sphere of government. Because the more government does, the more demands it places on individuals. And the more demands placed on individuals by the government, the less time and energy individuals have to pursue their own happiness.

To take the most immediate example, when Obama and the Dems enact legislation to guarantee health care to another 30 million currently uninsured individuals, they are forcing people to (a) pay more taxes, (b) pay higher health insurance premiums themselves, and/or (c) get less coverage than they would otherwise be able to get for the same money. Those are all costs borne by at least certain individuals in order to support the needs and wants of other individuals. IOW, society is taking some of the fruits of my labors in order to give it to someone else.

This, I think, represents the real nub of disagreement between the left and the right, or at least I think this is the fault line going forward.

Comment Posted By Conrad On 15.02.2010 @ 10:54

The issue that seems to be coming into focus for an increasingly large segment of the public goes beyond "tax cuts." It's the extent to which fiscal policy is being driven by considerations other than the amount of revenue necessary to run the government. I'm talking not just about entitlements, which are simply wealth redistribution programs, but also the endless subsidies that get worked into the tax code (e.g., for buying a new car, investing in green technologies, etc.). People are awakening to the fact that the government holds sway over way too large a portion of the country's private wealth.

Comment Posted By Conrad On 14.02.2010 @ 13:38

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