I‘ve mentioned before about the seemingly unbridgeable ideological divide confronting our federal representatives in Washington, DC. This seems to be a generational version of the same thing (my emphasis):
Young folks today appear to have the same dreams and ambitions that my generation had at the same age. We wanted an education, a good career, a home of our own and a happy life. The main difference between today’s youthful opinion is that most of us expected to stay in school, work hard and earn a good life instead of having it given to us at someone else’s expense — a point of view expressed by many young adults today.
Proof of the pudding showed up this fall in a survey conducted by Professor Jack W. Chambless at Valencia College in Florida. He asked his students to write a short essay expressing their view of The American Dream.
Most of the students responded with the familiar notions of youth expressed by my generation with one important and notable exception. Instead of taking personal responsibility for their future, they noted that the government should, “Pay my tuition, provide me with a job, give me money for a house, make sure I get free health care and pay for my retirement.” If necessary, “… raise taxes on rich people so that I can have more money …”
What else would you expect from young Americans, who, after several generations, have grown accustomed to a “Nanny State” in which the Federal Government has taken more and more license with the lives of individual Americans? This entire process has resulted in a citizenry in which one-half of wage earners pay no income tax at all and, indeed, in some cases even get a “refund” even though that refund comes from one of the other half of Americans who have paid income tax. If this is not a prime Marxist example of government, “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need,” I don’t know what is.
In fact, according to clip below, 80% of the students opined that health care, tuition, down payments and jobs should all be provided by the government at no cost to themselves. And, while this certainly isn’t a scientific poll or anything even approaching the sort, it should be noted that this was from a class of 200 college kids. So, at least 160 of them thought this way. Which is more than just pathetic and sad. It’s a harbinger of terrible things to come.
I truly pray that Valencia College has cornered the market on freeloaders, thus making this a terribly skewed sample. Or maybe the students surveyed are just a bunch of smart-asses having fun with their professor. Indeed, I’m sure that something far less than 8 in 10 college students believes that government should just provide for their every want and desire, paying for out of the pockets of the “rich” if need be (one wonders where they think all these goodies originate?).
But the number doesn’t really need to be all that high before serious issues arise. If, instead, the number is only 20% (or 1 in 5), that would be better, but still alarming. Consider that if 20% of the electorate feels this way, and that the remaining 80% are diametrically opposed on almost every issue, then pleasing that smaller cohort becomes the key to political victory. In short, giving free stuff to the 20% in exchange for their votes. Which is not at all unlike what we have now.
Of course if that number is higher that 1 in 5, the problem becomes much worse. At least, until they run out of other people’s money.
You can see a video of an interview with the professor who conducted the survey here.
Apparently the public has seen and read enough about Occupy Wall Street to make up its mind that it isn’t something it supports.
According to a Public Policy Polling survey, support for OWS has dropped rapidly as more and more reports detail theft, violence, rape, and all sorts of other anti-social behavior (such as defecating in the street) among its participants.
Only 33% now say that they are supportive of its goals, compared to 45% who say they oppose them. That represents an 11 point shift in the wrong direction for the movement’s support compared to a month ago when 35% of voters said they supported it and 36% were opposed. Most notably independents have gone from supporting Occupy Wall Street’s goals 39/34, to opposing them 34/42.
Note again the all important demographic (independents) in which the big switch has occurred. Democrats who’ve hitched their wagon to OWS should begin deserting it like rats deserting a sinking ship when they see these results.
As for the claim that OWS is more popular than the Tea Party? Yeah, not so much:
Tea Party 43%, Occupy Wall Street 37%. Last month, Occupy Wall Street had a narrow advantage of 40%-37%.
Again the movement with independents is notable- from preferring Occupy Wall Street 43-34, to siding with the Tea Party 44-40.
That said, the issue OWS supposedly represents is still alive and well even if it is a misinformed position:
I don’t think the bad poll numbers for Occupy Wall Street reflect Americans being unconcerned with wealth inequality. Polling we did in some key swing states earlier this year found overwhelming support for raising taxes on people who make over $150,000 a year. In late September we found that 73% of voters supported the ‘Buffett rule’ with only 16% opposed. And in October we found that Senators resistant to raising taxes on those who make more than a million dollars a year could pay a price at the polls. I don’t think any of that has changed- what the downturn in Occupy Wall Street’s image suggests is that voters are seeing the movement as more about the ‘Occupy’ than the ‘Wall Street.’ The controversy over the protests is starting to drown out the actual message.
This is most likely true since most people don’t understand that the economics of earnings isn’t a zero sum game. On the one hand the left has done a good job of selling the idea that income inequality is important and can be solved through higher taxes on the so-called or relatively “rich”.
Of course that’s nonsense. That said, OWS is now more of a detriment than a asset to that cause if this poll is to be believed. And that means the usual thing for politicians with their fingers firmly in the political wind – those who have embraced the OWS protestors will be trying to find a way to desert and then denounce the rabble.
OWS will linger – today they’re going to try to rally in NYC on Wall Street – but I’d argue we’ve seen the movement’s high tide. I will now recede into a mere annoying shadow of itself as support is withdrawn by political figures and organizations. And, of course, you can count on participants getting even more desperate to rally support and I think we all know what that means. More excess, more stupidity, less support.
I say good riddance.
Watch and listen. Schiff makes a lot of points we’ve been hitting for years. It is a fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism and what it is that drives a lot of the OWS supporters to focus on the wrong entities. Schiff has a lively discussion with them. Interestingly some agree and some simply won’t take the ideological blinders off. You’ll quickly identify who is who.
That’s a quote
from attributed to Abraham Lincoln* as delivered by Richard Epstein in his discussion of economic inequality (a meme that is all the rage right now). Interestingly enough, this interview was conducted and broadcast by PBS (as tree hugging sister notes “I’m sure whoever’s idea it was has been sacked. Along with all the llama trainers”).
In any event, this is as good a retort to the #OWS nonsense as you’ll likely find. Enjoy (HT: Insty):
ADDED: Although Epstein doesn’t say it explicitly, essentially he describes “economic inequality” as a benign effect, rather than a malignant cause. Understanding the difference leads to understanding why allowing for the greatest number of opportunities works better at increasing everyone’s wealth instead of trying to equalize outcomes.
* Thanks to DWPittelli for pointing out this misattribution in the comments (“It was the Reverend William John Henry Boetcker (1873–1962) who wrote “you cannot help the poor by destroying the rich” and 9 other related aphorisms in 1916. A printing error in 1942 led to the confusion between some Lincoln quotes and these Boetcker quotes.”).
The Washington Time carries an editorial that discusses the ongoing Occupy protests and it contains a paragraph which I think is a good summary of why I want these things to go on and on and on:
Your efforts serve to paint a clear contrast between the two sides currently waging war for the future of America. On one side are those who believe in the income redistribution of socialism and feel entitled to “social justice,” fueled by a victim complex instilled in them by the very politicians who create and perpetuate their dependence. On the other side are the independent, self-respecting, hardworking Americans whose income and old-fashioned values of personal responsibility sit squarely in the cross hairs of the slackers and the Democratic Party that coddles them.
Many Americans are frustrated with the situation we now find ourselves. And they want things changed, obviously. But you have to ask yourself, as you look around, do I want it overthrown?
In other words is the current system such that it needs to be entirely replaced? That’s the Occupy movement’s belief. It is, essentially, an anti-capitalist movement. And that becomes clearer every day they thrash around looking for something fresh to scream about to keep themselves in the eye of the media.
For instance, today we hear about the announcement that the group who launched OWS is calling for a “Robin Hood tax”:
An anti-capitalist group which sparked the Occupy Wall Street movement has called for global protests Saturday to demand that leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) nations impose a "Robin Hood tax" on financial transactions and currency trades.
"Let’s send them a clear message: We want you to slow down some of that $1.3 trillion easy money that’s sloshing around the global casino each day—enough cash to fund every social program and environmental initiative in the world," the activist group said on its website,www.adbusters.org.
"As the movement matures, let’s consider a response to our critics," Adbusters said on its website. "Let’s occupy the core of our global system. Let’s dethrone the greed that defines this new century."
Take in the language.
“Casinos”. “Robin Hood Tax”. The inference are all quite clear.
That’s not the language that will endear a movement to most Americans. Most Americans are not going to embrace an ideology that would condone redistribution like the OWS folks are talking about. But that’s what continues to emerge as their answer to the world’s problems.
The “greed that defines the new century” provides the communication power for their outreach among any number of other things. They have no clue what it might be like without that system though. It is this system that has built the unprecedented wealth and standard of living that no “Robin Hood” could ever match. But in reality, “Robin Hood” is a central character in their brave new world. Robin Hood is government.
Their ignorance about how economies work knows no bounds apparently. And they demonstrate that point fairly regularly. Most Americans know what caused the wealth, affluence and power we enjoy, and it wasn’t redistribution of wealth through government. In fact, as some polls have shown, it isn’t “Wall Street” most Americans blame for this – it is the very institution that OWS is calling on to impose the Robin Hood tax.
We often hear people talk about “teachable moments” when situations present themselves. OWS is just such a moment. It brings together a collection of misfits, malcontents and economic luddites whose entire mantra boils down to “we want what you have and that’s fair”.
Most people divest themselves of that nonsense when they’re about 7.
Others like those involved in OWS are apparently forever slow learners.
And they therefore provide us with a wealth of “teachable moments” about why what they want doesn’t and won’t ever work. That’s worth having them around for a while.
Deepak Chopra has, for some reason, come to be viewed as an intellectual by many. For the most part I don’t get it.
I’m reminded why when I read this Chopra statement on “The Mellow Jihadi” (disclaimer: The Mellow Jihadi does not agree with Chopra’s statement below):
Capitalism prevails as a system that once vied, supposedly, with Communism for world dominance, yet its deep flaws remain. Three come to mind. Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth, leading to enormous gaps between rich and poor. The free market lacks a conscience, giving rise to inequalities of education, health care, and job opportunities. Finally, capitalism if unchecked promotes corruption, both economic and political.
Capitalism is really given a bad rap here. And it is mostly in word usage. For instance “Capitalism discourages equal access to wealth”?
No. It doesn’t. What it requires is you earn your wealth, not have it handed to you. I.e. it pretty much encourages hard work, sacrifice and innovation and rewards it with wealth if all goes well and people like what you do and want to buy it. But the “deep flaw” here is you – the individual – actually have to initiate the action, do what is necessary to properly prepare yourself, work your butt off and hope you have done sufficient research and work to make all that pay off. But it certainly doesn’t “discourage” anyone from earning wealth, it just makes no guarantee that all will share equally in wealth. I see that as a feature, not a bug. The enormous gaps between rich and poor can usually be traced back to enormous gaps in preparation, work ethic, and ability. Btw, Mr. Chopra, in case you haven’t noticed, nature isn’t very good about “equality” either – when it comes to intelligence and ability. Is that a “flaw” or reality?
Chopra goes on to say that “the free market lacks a conscience”. Well that’s a straw man if ever I’ve seen one. It’s a bit like saying a rock has no feelings. A market operates without feelings, to include a conscience. But that doesn’t mean that the society or culture in which it operates can’t do what it feels is necessary to ameliorate certain “inequalities” if it so desires. That has zip to do with the market(s) other than they’re probably the fastest and best means to earn the wealth necessary to apply to the desired solutions. It simply doesn’t follow logically that the functioning of markets somehow inherently means inequality of education, health care and job opportunities. In fact history points to precisely the opposite being true.
Finally, Chopra, like many opponents of Capitalism, confuses the crony capitalism of today with actual Capitalism in its pure form. Crony capitalism does indeed “promote corruption, both economic and political”, and we’re living through that today. But Capitalism as a economic system doesn’t encourage either and, in fact, does its best to work around it via the market mechanisms that send the signals that encourage consumers to seek substitutes and/or alternatives when something doesn’t smell right. But when government interferes, sets artificial bars to entry, writes legislation that favors large businesses that support powerful politicians, that’s not Capitalism.
The Mellow Jihadi quotes Winston Churchill with one of the better rebuttals:
The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
Sometimes as you wander through the vast reaches of the internet, you find something that makes you laugh out loud while at the same time creating an intense desire to own it:
Brilliant. And dead right.
UPDATE: It can be ordered here. (Thanks tkc)
’m not sure what else to call it but it does indeed seem a fitting example of a discussion we recently had here about colleges failing to teach critical thinking.
Think Progress (of course) has a blog post headlined with “Income inequality in US worse than Egypt”. Never let a crisis go to waste, huh?
First you are asked to believe that it is “income inequality” which is leading the pack of reasons the country wants Mubarak gone. If not, what’s the purpose of the headline?
Secondly, there’s the equivalence this writer makes between the US and Egypt. My guess Pat Garafalo has never been to Egypt (or perhaps even out of the US to a nation in which “poor” actually means poor) so he has no frame of reference in his comparison. Its all about income inequality, that’s always "bad" and that is the leading reason for unrest, or so the reasoning, such that it is, seems to conclude.
Usually “income inequality” isn’t even on the radar screen when these sorts of things happen. The grievances are more focused more generally on “freedom”, “liberty”, “oppression” and/or “democracy”. You may, as you have in the case of Egypt, even hear “economic opportunity” as a reason.
No, “income inequality” is one of those terms the left likes to use as a sort of euphemism for “capitalist exploiters” – a part of their perpetual war on business. “Capitalist exploiters” include any corporation and most business owners. Of course they can’t use “capitalist exploiters” without revealing their game (and being dismissed out of hand), so “income inequality” has to do. The implication, of course, is if we just took the money from those capitalist exploiters and spread it around (because, you know, those folks collect it and bury it in a coffee can in the back yard or stuff their mattress with it), all would be lovely.
The fact remains that economic opportunity is lacking in Egypt not because of “capitalist exploiters” but because of government oppression and favoritism.
Somehow though, and certainly there are problems with government intrusion here, what has gone on in Egypt is relevant to what is going on here and the proof is “income inequality”. Make the connection for heaven sake – what’s wrong with you?
Garafalo takes a wave at trying to sound fair about his point, but remember, to swallow this whole you have to believe two things – one, that economics is a zero-sum game, so if the rich are getting richer the poor must get poorer and two, there is no opportunity for the poor to better their condition. The rich are just making it worse and worse for the poor by
earning taking more than their “fair share”.
Anyway, Garafalo says:
The Gini coefficient is used to measure inequality: the lower a country’s score, the more equal it is. Obviously, there are many things about the U.S. economy that make it far preferable to that in Egypt, including lower poverty rates, higher incomes, significantly better infrastructure, and a much higher standard of living overall. But income inequality in the U.S. is the worst it has been since the 1920′s, which is a real problem.
Using that, I’d have to guess that the former Soviet Union and it’s bloc of Eastern European satellites had very low Gini coefficient scores, wouldn’t you?
See, this is “equality” for equality’s sake. It’s nonsense. It is the turning of a concept from a positive to a negative. We have all been promised something very profound in the country – equal protection under the law and equal opportunity to pursue “happiness”. Yet it is something the left constantly and consistently pushes as a different message. It doesn’t just want equality in opportunity – it want’s equality of outcome.
That’s why you continue to see long boring posts written about the subject of “income inequality”. It is how the left justifies further intrusion by government and taking from those who “have” to give to those who “don’t have”. It’s about time we made it clear that other than the leftist chorus, no one else is buying into their preaching.
Oh and the big finish to the Garafalo piece?
Yale economist Robert Shiller has said that income inequality “is potentially the big problem, which is bigger than this whole financial crisis.” “If these trends that we’ve seen for 30 years now in inequality continue for another 30 years…it’s going to create resentment and hostility,” he said. But tax and spending policies that provide adequate services and allow for economic mobility — along with a robust social safety net — can head off trouble that may come down the road.
“Bigger than this whole financial crisis”. It will create “resentment and hostility”. There may be “trouble … down the road”.
Have you freakin’ people looked around you and figured out yet how well everyone – in comparison with most of the rest of world – live here? This constant refrain from the left is as tiresome as it is wrong. It’s nonsense on a stick. But you will continue to hear them whine about it for the foreseeable future because it is a way for them to justify taking your money for their purposes and sounding noble about it.
I’d like to say I’m “shocked – shocked I tell you”, but in all honesty I’m not. Rasmussen reports that:
More than one-out-of-four Americans (27%) think the government should manage the U.S. economy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Nearly as many (24%) say it’s better for the government to stay out of economic decisions altogether.
First, just off the top, I can’t imagine how 27% can think the government would do a good job managing the economy except via abject ignorance about how the economy actually works. Secondly, if they’re at all literate they must know that some of the worst economic failures as states have been those in which the government managed the economy. And if they follow world events even in passing, they can find current examples of that failure in Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and North Korea to name a few.
So you’d have to figure they at least have some cognizance of what “government management of the economy” means to hold such a belief, right? If so, then other than faith, what do they base their opinion upon? Certainly not facts – or even success stories.
They remind me of people who begin smoking fully aware of all the awful things that tobacco use will eventually do to them and somehow naively believe they’ll be the exception to the rule. One has to assume they have discovered a way that government management of the economy can work and are simply waiting for the right time to spring it on us all.
Or perhaps they’re just young, inexperienced and enamored with the theory. I guess everyone goes through a period of kumbyah economics where one believes that if everyone would just work hard and share and let a benevolent government manage it all, we’d live in an earthly paradise. But I never thought as many as 27% wouldn’t outgrow that.
Even more disturbing is the fact that more think the government should manage the economy than think it should stay completely out of it. I’ll bet that wasn’t at all the case in the 18th or 19th centuries. In those days our ancestors were of the opinion the less government the better. What a novel thought, huh? And with that freedom they built a nation that is the envy of the world – at least for the time being. Until that 27% have their way.
Seriously though – that number is a bit stunning. 27%. More than a quarter of those polled actually expressed the opinion that we’d be better off if government managed the economy. Does that bother anyone else? And if so, how do you explain it?
27% of our countrymen think somehow government could do a better job managing the economy than markets. Markets which now manage, quite successfully mind you, billions of individual transactions a day in which the two (or more) voluntary participants part perfectly satisfied at the conclusion. How would government do that better? How would it better allocate goods, money, raw materials, etc., than does the market? What signals would it use to satisfy changing demand and ensure the right goods are produced at the right time and sent to the right place for the right price and at a profit which keeps the whole system moving in a positive direction?
I’m asking because I’d love one of the 27% to drop in an enlighten us poor rubes who just can’t seem to wrap our heads around the idea they’re backing in a positive way. Then I’d ask them if they’d prefer Zimbabwe or North Korea to this poor benighted country and its ostensibly “free” markets. Because obviously they can’t be happy here.
Wow … a real head shaker.
Strongman Hugo Chavez says the flooding in Venezuela that has resulted in 70,000 homeless and 32 deaths is easy to understand. It’s the result of “criminal capitalism” and it’s effect on the world’s climate:
"The developed nations irresponsibly shatter the environmental order, in their desire to maintain a criminal development model while the immense majority of the earth’s people suffer the most terrible consequences," he said on Venezuelan television Sunday.
You may be wondering why this sort of stupidity is even worth mentioning. It is worth mentioning because it is a sterling example of the nonsense that has been precipitated by AGW scaremongering that I discuss below. This is a dictator’s excuse, however absurd it sounds, for his regime’s inability to control the flooding in his country.
"The world’s powerful economies insist on a destructive way of life,” he said on Sunday. "And then refuse to take any responsibility."
I’m sure it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what taking "responsibility" would mean. In the past this would be viewed as another in a long line of failed socialist dictators who, because of their crippling of their country’s economy, have rendered unable to cope with natural disasters. But with the convenient excuse of AGW to pin the blame on, and by extension the richer nations, shifting the blame is a natural.
Any bets as to whether this will be a topic in Cancun?