21 Sep 2009

The Philosophy of Envy

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Herbert London, at PJM, attacks the philosophy of Envy underlying the agenda of the American party of the left.

Whether it is the socialism espoused by the Nazis or the socialism of the former Soviet Union or the socialism that is emerging in the United States, there is one overarching sentiment, however different socialism in these three societies may be. Socialism everywhere expresses envy of excellence by treating the contributions and wealth of the successful as the wages of sin.

The Nazis saw the sin as a Jewish conspiracy, the Soviets saw sin as exploitation by the bourgeoisie, and what is emerging in the United States is the sin of the wealthy.

In the Obama administration greed is considered the sin that must be opposed. But greed, whatever its deficiencies, is, as Adam Smith pointed out, an incentive for the promotion of capitalism which, in the aggregate, has a salutary influence on the economy. To combat greed, the socialists emphasize envy. Since equality is the goal, even trivial differences in income are exaggerated and the progressivity in the tax system is employed as a blunt instrument to impose equality.

Lincoln said “you can’t make a poor man rich by making a rich man poor.” But President Obama seems to believe that wealth is invariably related to the wages of sin and must be controlled or, to use his language, “spread around.” To make sure this happens, government must expand and, in so doing, the private sector will inevitably contract. That explains why socialism, which purports to represent the interests of the average person, ends in overwhelming government control or outright tyranny. …

President Gerald Ford put this matter in perspective when he noted “that a government that can give you everything you want will be large enough to take everything you have.”

Read the whole thing.

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