I’m a huge fan of Kevin Williamson’s writings on economics and property rights. (HT James Dunn) A slice from a piece from earlier this month:
The desire to be left alone is a powerful one, and an American one. It is not, contrary to the rhetoric proffered by the off-brand Cherokee princess currently representing the masochistic masses of Massachusetts in the Senate, an anti-social sentiment. It is not that we necessarily desire to be left alone full stop — it is that we desire to be left alone by people who intend to forcibly seize our assets for their own use. You need not be a radical to desire to live in your own home, to drive your own car, and to perform your own work without having to beg the permission of a politician — and pay them 40 percent for the privilege.
In my latest column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I argue that
Reality today, however, is poles apart from the reality of the past. Differences in material prosperity no longer are evidence of exploitation of the have-nots by the haves. In fact, for someone to get rich in a market economy requires that he or she serve the masses rather than exploit them.
Name any super-rich person, past or present, in America. Chances are you’ll name someone who started off poor or middle-class and became rich by enriching millions of other people: John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Richard Sears, Henry Ford, Ray Kroc, Steve Jobs and Tiger Woods, to name only a few. Each of these people earned fabulous wealth by supplying millions of willing buyers with goods, services or entertainment.
The more these people improved the lives of others, the richer they became.
Quite seriously, can anyone think of a better system? “Delight some others mildly and earn some wealth; delight multitudes of others intensely and earn plenty of wealth” — that’s about as good a system of incentives as we humans can devise.
And yet the mental shortcut “the poor are victims of the rich” causes some people to jeer at, rather than cheer on, successful entrepreneurs. This mental shortcut blinds its users to everything other than the income differences that separate successful entrepreneurs from those whose incomes are ordinary.