Skip to comments.Mike Rosen: On greed vs. ambition (socialism, leftist utopia, etc.)
Posted on 05/27/2005 2:57:04 AM PDT by ajolympian2004
Leftists love to complain and they especially love to whine about "greed." They just don't get it. A market economy is based on incentives. The prospect of financial reward is what motivates most people to work, save and invest. There's nothing particularly ingenious about a system that recognizes this. It's intuitive. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith didn't invent an economic system; he merely observed and analyzed what people do naturally when left to their own devices.
Socialism, on the other hand, is an ingenious system, an invention of coercive economic utopians, based on the notion that human nature can be elevated to a collective, altruistic plane. Its myriad failures in the real world include places like the former Soviet Union, North Korea and Cuba. The socialist democracies of Old Europe are rapidly proceeding down that road. It's instructive to note that the recent economic rise of communist China is directly related to its increasing embrace of good, old-fashioned capitalism, a system that has ably served its Asian neighbors in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
Greed is a word leftists use to describe what conservatives call ambition. Ambition and reward are what fuel prosperity in a market economy. When you impose penalties and restrict rewards on economic activity - such as by excessive taxation - however noble your motives, there are consequences. You get less work, savings, investment and output. If that weren't the case, we could tax ourselves rich. The fatal shortcoming of socialist economies is that they don't sufficiently reward excellence, so, predictably, they get less of it. It's that fundamental conflict with human nature that seals socialism's ultimate doom.
To leftists, greed is when someone else makes more money than they do. The problem with that word is that it's impossible to objectively define. Is a cab driver that chooses to work 60 hours a week instead of 40 greedy? According to whom? Suppose he wants the extra income to send his children to college? Suppose he wants to blow it in Las Vegas? A market economy doesn't ask these questions. They're irrelevant to public policy. Regardless of his motivations, a farmer who produces twice as much as his neighbor has added that much more to the nation's product. He should be suitably rewarded. The tax collector will relieve him of quite enough of the fruits of his labor. What he does with the rest is his business.
Some cancer researchers may be motivated solely by a humanitarian desire to relieve suffering. That's wonderful. Some may be seeking fame or fortune. What's truly important to society is that a cure be found. Whatever encourages that outcome is good - even if someone might have the bad manners to get rich as a result. Three generations of Americans who have not had to fear the disease of polio couldn't care less about the motivations 50 years ago of Drs. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin.
Yes, there are greedy people in this world. There are also lazy people and dishonest people. And there always will be. It's an elusive moralistic exercise to attempt to calculate where ambition ends and greed begins. Whatever you call it, the trick is to maximize human energy for the private and public good.
Adam Smith summed it up nicely, more than 200 years ago, when he observed that in a market economy, people pursuing their own prosperity are inadvertently moved as if by an "invisible hand" to promote the interests of society as a whole. They do this by creating wealth - for themselves and, in the process, for others. Any society that becomes obsessed with restricting the accumulation of personal wealth will destroy initiative and creativity. The way the world works, if you want the poor to get richer, you have to make it possible for others to get richer, too.
Leftists have little regard for the creation of wealth. They take that for granted. Their fun comes in redistributing income and wealth. It may be difficult to define greed, but it's easy to define covetousness. That's the greed of leftists for governmental power to confiscate the property of others.
Mike Rosen's radio show airs daily from 9 a.m. to noon on 850 KOA.
Amidst the incessant cries from Democrats to soak the rich and preserve the death tax, I'm compelled to dust off and update a column I first penned about 15 years ago. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Ayn Rand is without question the most influential author of he 20th century, read her works, including "We the living".
See is not a genius, just an objective observer of human behavior. I say "is" because she still lives, and will as long as people live.
Ironic that you mention 'Fountainhead' and 'Atlas Shrugged'. As you can see just below they are on Mike Rosen's recommended books to read.
I'm often asked to recommend books on market economics, politics and philosophy. Here are some of those I've cited:
. What's So Great About America, Dinesh D'Souza
· Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
· Human Action, Ludwig von Mises
· Socialism, Ludwig von Mises
· Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Joseph Schumpeter
· Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt
· The Road to Serfdom, F. A. von Hayek
· Free to Choose, Milton Friedman
· The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Michael Novak
· Modern Times, Paul Johnson
· Wealth and Poverty, George Gilder
· The Way the World Works, Jude Wanniski
· The Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell
· A Time for Truth, William Simon
· The Seven Fat Years, Robert L. Bartley
· In Defense of Elitism, William A. Henry III
· Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
· The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
· We the Living, Ayn Rand
· The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand
· A History of the American People, Paul Johnson
Mr. Rosen nailed it perfectly there.
I wonder if leftists are aware that they are accusing us of the very thing they are guilty of.
An addendum to what you have said here... have you ever noticed how the elites in Hollywood jump on the leftist bandwagon of preaching socialism. Leftist rich folks preaching socialism... I'll jump on that bandwagon the day they take all their belongings, money, homes, investments, etc. and divide it equally among the population in the area where they live and prove their own dedication socialism with indisputable documentation. I'll trust after verifying in this scenario.
Here in Colorado, Boulder more specifically, we have an avowed card carrying member of the communist party who is one of the trust fund dependents, as Mike Rosen knows him, 'Cord from Boulder' (Cord McGuire). He calls in to all the local talk shows preaching his brand of socialism for the masses while he sits back in his realm of comfort having his 'meat' hand delivered to his doorstep each and every day. I'll take folks like Cord seriously wants he proves to me that he practiced what he preaches for a few years, again with proof.
Nothing like living in a free country, being rich and preaching what's best for others. 'I've got mine and now your going to do what's best for everyone else.' What a load of BS!
That's right. You can fight socialism, just like you can fight crime, but you cannot remove the capacity of men to do evil.
I hope, though, that the freedom-loving people of the world will learn to fight socialism at least as effectively as we are fighting crime in America today.
Hillary: We'll take your money for 'common good' Senator speaks to wealthy taxpayers at San Francisco fund-raiser Posted: June 29, 2004 5:00 p.m. Eastern
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Addressing a Democratic fund-raiser yesterday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., told wealthy supporters the government will need to take money away from them for the "common good."
Clinton headlined an appearance with other women Democratic senators in San Francisco, where donors gave as much as $10,000 to California Sen. Barbara Boxer's campaign.
"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Clinton said, according to the Associated Press. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you.
"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson told WorldNetDaily that Americans should take careful note of Clinton's remarks.
"This is John Kerry's Democratic party," she said. "Small-business owners and taxpayers all across America should be very, very concerned."
Kerry and Clinton, Iverson said, are people who "believe the government knows how to spend your own money better than you do."
Iverson acknowledged Clinton's use of the term "common good" was telling, evoking the language of Karl Marx, who envisioned a society that distributes wealth "from each according to ability, to each according to need."
In her book, "Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton," the late author Barbara Olson wrote, in Clinton's "formative years, Marxism was a very important part of her ideology."
Olson described the senator growing up as a "budding Leninist" who "understood the Leninist concept of acquiring, accumulating and maintaining political power at any cost."
The Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Tax Reform responded to Clinton's remarks, saying, "When it comes to tax policy, liberal politicians often try to hide their true colors."
"There you have it: Hillary Clinton, the soul of the Democratic Party, talking about taxpayers money like it's hers," said Americans for Tax Reform head Grover Norquist. "What insufferable arrogance it's as though our taxes are hers to spend!"
Capitalism can be a harsh mistress. As a business owner myself I sometimes think how it might just be easier to go communist and spend my days in sensitivity classes. I go to bed every night thinking how to better please my customers.
It is something I notice even among the Canadian conservatives at Free Dominion -- the idea that its all right to confiscate other peoples' property if they are not using their property in a way that suits the thief. Trying to persuade people that once you have said "It's all right to confiscate property that does not belong to you..." it doesn't much matter what follows that comma.
In the same way the socialists preach "Love one another or go to jail."
It's hard to believe people can't see the problem with that.
It's a phenomenon called "projection", and leftists do it all the time.
Look at their loud incessant screeching "Bush lied!" preceeding the last election: not a single leftist uttering that claim demonstrated an ability to consistently tell the truth. (Sometimes they would speak truthfully, but only when doing so would advance their agenda.)
The more the Left is guilty of a crime, the louder their accusations become.