Monday, May 9, 2011

Coveting Creates Nothing

I’m involved in a number of local organizations with the intention of connecting, sharing information about conservative ideas, and what we can do to preserve our freedoms. I’m a regular person. I don’t have lots of money. I almost never donate any of my money to these organizations (any I have given has been to defray costs of a venue for a specific event), but I do donate time and effort when I can. I think I’m typical. Not many other people donate significant money to these organizations either. And I am certain, because I am in a position to know, that no big money is coming in from behind-the-scenes donors.

So I’m puzzled by accusations from the left. OK, not that puzzled; they assume that we must be doing what they do. The list of socialist organizations supported by nefarious means, and often funded by behind-the-scenes controllers such as George Soros, is truly staggering. They don’t deny it effectively, because evidence is plentiful. But they ignore it and instead complain about the control of everything by some rich persons like the Koch brothers, who have the audacity to donate to such “nefarious” organizations as—wait for it—The Heritage Foundation or The Cato Institute. Really? I personally get information from these organizations, fairly frequently. They provide data that I can’t get from the news. Lots of data. And often some very good commentary that coincides with our US Constitution, which I can tell is accurate, because I have this uncanny ability to read and understand the Constitution. (OK, it’s not an uncanny ability; it’s just what happens when a basic thinking person reads without using a socialist filter.)

I didn’t (still don’t) know very much about the Koch brothers. But, because of a link I got from a relative (yes, apparently liberal relatives are inevitable, although we continue to hope for enlightenment), I decided to find out. The link was to Michael Moore’s site, a clue right there, because I have yet to see anything by Michael Moore with a hint of intellectual honesty. The video clip shown there was by someone named Robert Greenwald. It juxtaposes a senior couple and a senior single woman, getting by on social security checks and food stamps (living, ironically, in homes that look at least as nice as mine, and cutting up fresh vegetables that don’t look like starving) with the Koch brothers and their $42 billion and multiple homes—sort of like John Kerry, but they don’t mention that.

I looked up the Koch brothers on Wikipedia. Their father started Koch industries in 1940, which has grown to what Forbes calls the second largest US company (and is privately owned). Core industries include “manufacturing, refining and distribution of petroleum, chemicals, energy, fiber, intermediates and polymers, minerals, fertilizers, pulp and paper, chemical technology equipment, ranching, finance, commodities trading, as well as other ventures and investments.” They have 50,000 US employees, with another 20,000 in 59 other countries.

As far as I can tell, there is no complaint about them getting their fortune by any way other than earning it. Unless you hate the oil industry because of global warming hype, then the assumption must be that what they have produced has benefitted consumers—free market exchanges. So what is the complaint?

It is apparently unfair to these complainants on the video that the Koch brothers should benefit from their wealth creation practices while these people have so much less. Granted, these complainants did not build up an industry in exchange for profit, but they feel nevertheless entitled. They don’t see why anyone should be allowed to spend their money on large houses—even though spending that money employed multiple people in the housing industry, putting money into the economy. If the Koch brothers had saved the money in a mattress instead of spending it, would that have been less sinful? The video doesn’t say.

The complaint is that these rich guys “hate” the lesser beings, and that is why they want to “destroy” social security and workers unions (note: these people on the video weren’t union workers, and were already on social security, so there is no threat to what they receive in their lifetimes). And they opine that the reason is simply that the rich guys want to save tax money for themselves.

The complainants fail to note that every dollar they have personally put into social security could have been invested to benefit them multiple fold, so social security has actually been an attempt to enslave them in their poverty in their older years. And social security tax only affects up to a little more than $100,000 of income—because it was sold by FDR to the people as only an insurance safety net, in case of poverty, so it isn’t necessary for higher incomes. So the personal cost to the very rich is so insignificant that one can hardly even talk about it affecting them. Taxes are higher for the very rich—a much higher percentage taken out of each dollar earned. That higher percentage is taken out of the economy by government, so it can’t be used for job creation or charitable giving, which Koch money has been consistently used for. So, maybe we need to look at another motive.

Either these super rich guys really do “hate” the lesser beings (unlikely, because almost everyone is economically lesser), or they believe that lower taxes and Constitutional prohibition of forced income distribution will actually benefit the greater society. Yes, it will benefit them and their business—so they can hire even more people and create more wealth that is capital that can be used for even more growth and employment. But what I like is lower taxes, freedom to work without unions—and a straight-up huge tax cut for social security, a benefit I will never receive back. I have plenty of reasons to believe that would make my life, as a lesser being, considerably better.

The fact is, if the government flat-out confiscated all of the Koch fortune, and liquidated all of their assets—and all of the fortunes and assets of all of the super rich, and all of the fortunes and assets of the very rich, and all of the fortunes and assets of all the not very rich at all—it wouldn’t cover more than a few months of this year’s federal budget and would leave no capital with which to pay next year’s budget. Try this video. And this one.

Coveting—i.e., class envy—doesn’t create jobs, doesn’t produce goods, doesn’t spiritually benefit civilization. But working for and learning from successful people just might.

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