Money—is the root of all evil ???

Oct. 30, 2017

So the saying goes. I suggest an alternate version, “money is the godfather of all good.”

Both sayings have truth. As do sayings like “the rich should pay their fair share” (assumes the government controls things and taxes play a role) or “wealth ‘trickles down’ or not” (assumes private profits play a role) or “A rising tide raises all boats” (supports profits and wealth for all).

The public is fascinated, sometimes resentful, of great wealth. Everyone likes to visit rich celebrities, welcomes a win in lotteries or horse races, and any rise in income.

Democrats tend to err on the resentful side; Republicans on the fascinated side. Both parties have love affairs with wealthy patrons that bring hints of corruption. Democrats have George Soros, Nancy Pelosi, the Roosevelts, and the Kennedys. Republicans have the Koch Brothers, Donald Trump, and assorted rich tycoons. (Actually, Trump is a wild card, formerly a liberal Democrat and now a maverick Republican).

Democrats are by and large convinced that the socialist goal of rough equality in all things—wealth, talent, housing, environment, education, food, and healthcare. They also seem to believe the government can and should control all these things. This is a noble idealistic goal but impossible to achieve in practice.

Republicans by and large say ‘’me too” when forced to vote on health, taxes, welfare, public goodies, or the environment. Trump and a few conservative libertarians have recently challenged those “me too” politically correct beliefs. It remains to be seen whether their challenges will make a difference.

One key issue is big today­—that any inequality is bad, period. When pressed all would admit there are large differences in talents for sports, academics, science, mathematics, art, music, and intelligence. But all citizens should have equal opportunities to achieve. I agree. But when individual failure inevitably follows, Democrats tend to blame the environment (he or she didn’t have parents that read to them!). Many Republicans agree. Libertarians like me blame a synergy of genes, individual choices, and yes, the environment. There may be no cure beyond tolerance for the failures.

Democrats tend to look on inequality as bad. Republicans tend to say “me too.” Libertarians tend to welcome inequality, claiming it is needed for progress and when failure comes it is testing mainly our tolerance.

This is clearly brought to mind by people’s attitude to the belief that wealth “trickles down.” Or a ‘Risin tide raises all boats.” Or not. Democrats are united in claiming “not true”—it is a capitalist myth. Republicans argue it is likely or at least possible. Libertarians think for certain it happens since profits and “trickle down” wealth is a “rising tide that raises all boats” and the only real signposts of progress.

For evidence compare China under the communist Mao and China today, in equality and living standards for all. China’s people today agree with Adam Smith rather than Karl Marx (despite their holding on to the communist name and rule from above) that three things are necessary to get rich—private property, free trade, and diversity of talents. Notice that this leaves no room for inequality.

Democrats tend to look on wealth as a more or less permanent state marked by a store of land, property, houses, stocks, jewelry, expensive furniture and cars, lots of servants, a conservative outlook, and rich stuff. Sort of like the Agricultural Age when the rich had tons of land, gold, and many peasants, serfs, or slaves. That’s when the saying “money is the root of all evil” got started. Also when theft, violence, and imperial wars accelerated and were more common than ever before.

Libertarians say wealth in the Modern Age is talent and efficiency rather than any rich store of stuff. This explains why I usually vote Republican now. Republicans tend to be pro-business, pro-profit (essential for any and all progress), pro-entrepreneur and small business, for lower taxes for all, and against outright gifts to individuals or businesses. Democrats, on the other hand, tend to favor more government jobs and benefits, higher salaries and benefits mandated by the government, consultants galore, committee studies without end, and sometimes outright grants to bureaucrats, professors, students, artists, musicians, journalists, the poor, the minority, and for that matter any do-good group, so long as it is non-profit. I once fit into more than one of these lists. Predictably I was a member of the left-liberal clergy (see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 74, 78, 103.). And I reliably voted for Democrats.

All this is fine but not proof. The most crucial fact to me is profits. Societies that have gone down the equality path in socialism with the government in charge of pretty much everything have universally failed. This has been the really tragic story of idealistic failure in China, Russia, India, Germany, Italy, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and in a different way also in today’s West, including Europe and the UK.

Yes, these Western countries are prospering now, and have indeed prospered in the past few decades (mainly due to their large talent and profit store inherited from the more distant past). They may yet relapse into yesterday’s savagery of fascism or communism if they continue to go all out for the siren call of socialist equality and wide-open borders.

On the other hand, when these many of these same societies, Western or not, ignore inequality and respect profits, they tend to prosper dramatically in wealth, living standards, and ironically in greater equality!

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

For the curious who want to know more details of my life-long journey through the idea swamp, from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian, I suggest, or stronger, I beg you to buy and read one of my three recent books (they are all dirt-cheap and, in my opinion, very true if not revolutionary)—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or at minimum view some ideas on science and society streamed free now on YouTube.

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