The enormous general prosperity of the capitalist countries — the ability of capitalism to inherit widespread poverty and then proceed to create a vast middle class — does not and will not begin to impress egalitarians. The principle of economic equality — not universal prosperity — is their moral god. Consequently, they admire the “equal” destitution of Cuba’s citizens and repudiate the unequally-shared wealth of America. To them, it is morally superior if everybody subsists roughly equally on $1,000 annually and morally inferior if some possess millions while others live on “merely” $15,000 or $20,000 or $30,000. Rational men prefer to earn $15,000 in a country where others are millionaires to $1,000 in a country where others are equally poor. But egalitarians loathe the economic inequalities necessitated by the freedom of the capitalist system.
We have been living in what Arthur Laffer calls an Age of Prosperity for the last quarter century, an age brought on in large part by Reagan’s supply-side tax cuts and deregulation.
People think Obama wants to continue the prosperity we take for granted. In their typically American benevolence, they cannot imagine that a politicians would want to diminish prosperity in any way. They forget that the left sneered at Reagan’s policy as “trickle down economics” — precisely because it was not “fair.” I forget who it was, but I remember some Democrat in Congress snarling, “We’re sick of being trickled on!”
The old adage, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” is not fairness to egalitarians. If everyone’s income rises 10%, then a millionaire gets $100,000, but a man making $20,000 only gets $2,000. Egalitarians would rather destroy prosperity than see everyone get richer unequally.
The great irony is that in pursuit of equality socialism creates a rigid class society that is as unfair as any pre-capitalist fiefdom. In communist countries there are the nomenklatura, the ruling elite, and the proletariat who serve as slaves to the ruling class. Propaganda fools the proletariat into accepting this arrangement in the beginning, but only a repressive, totalitarian police state can keep this nightmare system going for any length of time.
In America the left tries to make society more equal within a mixed economy. Even though they don’t pursue outright nationalization of the means of production, they have learned never to define their meanings clearly. If they did, voters would reject them entirely. We are just now beginning to see what Obama means by “change.” He means a more equal society. As he said to Joe the Plumber, he believes it is good to spread the wealth around.
Egalitarianism is the great destroyer. It never creates, makes better, goes farther, thinks wiser; it only destroys in the pursuit of equality. It means more chains, not more freedom. Is this change we can believe in? You’d better believe it.