04 Oct 2006

How the Rich Use Socialism

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Thomas Sowell writes:

Although socialism has long claimed to be for the poor, it has probably done more damage, on net balance, to the poor than to the rich. After all, the rich have enough money to leave the country if they think the socialists are going to do them any serious harm.

Some of our own rich have already had their money leave the country, to be sheltered from the higher taxes that limousine liberals say we should all pay. Meanwhile, the liberal media give them kudos for their selfless advocacy of higher taxes on higher income people, forgetting that these are not taxes on wealth.

Most of the people in the upper income brackets are not rich and do not have wealth sheltered offshore. They are typically working people who have finally reached their peak earning years after many years of far more modest incomes — and now see much of what they have worked for siphoned off by politicians, to the accompaniment of lofty rhetoric.

The rich have learned to adapt socialist policies to their own benefit.

Sowell also identifies the factor behind much of the astonishing rise in real estate prices in many regions of the country in recent years: artificial shortages produced by zoning and building regulations designed to preclude development.

A very different form of socialism for the rich protects their communities from even the dangers of a free market. A whole array of laws and policies prevents outsiders from buying up property near them, even when these outsiders are ready to pay prices determined by supply and demand, rather than by eminent domain.

For example, the “open space” laws that have spread across the country to protect upscale communities represent one of the biggest collectivizations of land since the days of Josef Stalin.

Upscale residents say that they have a right to protect “our community.” But not even the rich own the whole community.

They own what they paid for — their own individual property. But they get the government to collectivize the often vastly larger surrounding property, in order to keep the unwashed masses from settling near them and spoiling their views.

Moreover, they wrap themselves in the mantle of idealism while doing this and denounce the “selfishness” of those who would stoop to building homes or apartments to house others, just to make money.

Hat tip to José Guardia.

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