Thursday, November 8, 2012

Richard Ebeling on the Great Divide

 The following analysis comes from my friend and former colleague, economist Dr. Richard Ebeling, to whom many thanks for permission to reprint his ideas.

        The news media -- both the "mainstream" and the "fair and balanced" one -- has made much, since Tuesday's election results, of the ethnic, social, and cultural divide in the country in terms of which groups voted for which of the presidential candidates.  And it is clear that the two leading political parties appealed to different segments of the society.
         But the real divide in the country, may I suggest, is that between those whom John C. Calhoun called the "taxpayers" and the "tax-receivers" in the society.  That is, the divide is between those on opposite sides of the redistributive state.
         But it is not simply between those who, on net, pay the taxes and those who, on net, receive the taxes. (Though as Frederic Bastiat said, in the spider's web of transfers it is often difficult for a person to know if he has, on net, "gained" or "lost".)  It is the political philosophical divide between those who believe in the moral "rightness" of income and wealth redistribution and those who believe that an individual has an inherent right to that which he has honestly earned in the productive market place of trade and exchange.
         This is the real and true battleground of ideas within which the future of the country must and has to be fought out.
In this context it is important for friends of freedom to reach out and persuade people in various groups who have been falsely convinced that the "State" is their "champion."
         The Republicans and conservatives (and libertarians), I believe, have made a serious mistake in not reaching out to many in the Hispanic community who should be and can be receptive to the "freedom philosophy."  They or their parents came to America --like earlier generations of immigrants -- to make a better life for themselves and their children. Many of them are or desire to be self-supporting and hardworking, if only they had a chance to do so in the market. Many are or would like to be small business people, with the hope of being successful and leaving a legacy for their families.  Many are strongly community-oriented with an attitude of mutual self-help in times of personal or family trouble.
         But they have been duped by collectivist and altruistic rhetoric and demagogic politicians, inside and outside their own community, to believe that "capitalism" won't provide them with a "fair chance" and that the "State" is the only avenue for a better life through redistribution, regulation, and special favors to help the "little guy."
         What friends of freedom need to do is to help those duped in this way by the Statists to distinguish between (as Bastiat said) "what is seen and what is not seen," to understand that the siren call of collectivist promises is a road to their perpetual serfdom and not the path to the "American Dream."


David L. Russell said...

Keep in mind that hispanics have come to this country from other collectivist countries that purport Socialist forms of governance. They have a dream of freedom, and the chance to get ahead, yet still have a Socialistic mindset from the get go. As far as Americans are concerned, the majority of them live and function in the mindset of the "a historical." This accounts for the reality of Santyana's brilliant insight that those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Plato nailed it..........The masses are incurrably ignorant. They are perfect players in the bread and circus world.

David L. Russell said...

To clarify, I only meant to attribute the Masses are incurrably ignorant to Plato. The bread and cirus comment was my parting shot. :)