But Now You Know

The search for truth in human action

The Truth about Income Inequality


There has been a lot of hoopla, lately, about the gap between rich and poor, how it’s growing, and how we need to give government more power to get rid of that income disparity. It’s actually been shrinking for the past four years, but it’s still larger in the US than most countries.

Some people say that it’s proof capitalism doesn’t work and needs to be banned, or at least that we need more income redistribution. Otherwise, the masses may revolt, like they’re doing in Greece and eventually take everything, therefore the ruling class have to choose between being violently overthrown, or surrendering their wealth.

But this all begs the question of why we’re talking about income inequality in the first place. The real question is whether we should be talking about differences between people, or overall quality of life for everyone.

Should We Care about the Wealth Gap?

Bolivia, Haiti, and Congo have very low income gaps, but equally low standards of living.

Which would be better:

  1. A society where the wealthiest earn a certain amount per year, and others earn about 50% that much.
  2. A society where the wealthiest earn a certain amount per year, and others earn only 5% of that much.

If you answered either way, you’ve blown a test of basic logic; You have no way of knowing which is better, unless you know how well the poor are doing in real-world terms.

For example, let’s say you answered that (1) is better, where the wealthy earn only twice as much as the poor, instead of twenty times as much.

But it turns out that, in the two examples:

  1. The wealthiest earn $20,000 per year, and the others $10,000
  2. The wealthiest earn $1,000,000 per year, and others earn $50,000

Would you REALLY prefer that the poor only get $10,000 per year, instead of $50,000 (in dollars with the same buying power), just because the income gap is smaller?

Not if you have any real-world experience. I’m sure a few kids who’ve never had to live on their own, or guilt-ridden trust fund brats convinced that everyone being poor is better than some being really rich, but the rest of us know better.

And when people talk about The Gap Between the Rich and Poor in the US, claiming income disparity is a horrible thing that needs to be fixed, this is exactly the kind of foolish, self-destructive position they’re taking.

Socialism vs Capitalism

Who, but guilt-ridden trust fund brats, seriously would prefer for the poor to live with less, just so the rich would have FAR less?

In fact, as the above examples show, what matters can’t be the “gap”, but the actual quality of life of people in the society.

Take Communist China, for example:

  1. When China was much more socialist, redistributing wealth and regulating the economy with  “social justice” the way the “income inequality” people want things to be, most people in the country were miserably poor…but equally so. They struggled just to subsist, living on dirt floors, literally millions dying from lack of resources that should have been readily available…but there was almost no wealth gap, at all.
  2. When the government realized that socialism doesn’t work, and began deregulating the economy, the gap between rich and poor exploded. It’s now hundreds, maybe thousands of times “worse” than it was…but almost everyone in China the less-regulated parts of China is better off than they were, although some are now MUCH poorer than the wealthiest.

The decline of socialism has led to a better life for many of the poor, and an increasing wealth gap, purely because some of the poor, themselves, are becoming much wealthier.

It is not income disparity that matters, but actual standards of living.

Far fewer people in China are now dying of hunger. Many of those who lived in huts with dirt floors and delivered their babies standing up in the kitchen now have modern homes and medical care…because of the very mechanisms that are making income disparity greater.

What we really need to be concerned with is quality of life, not exploiting jealousy and greed by focusing on “inequality”.

Rising Living Standards

When people claim that something forceful needs to be done about people they describe as poor, they make it sound like those people are victims of capitalism, now reduced to poverty.

The more we have, the more we want…we shouldn’t let that translate into jealousy and greed against those who have more

For example, think of people who complain that, thanks to the Roaring Twenties, one third of all Americans at the time had no electricity, indoor plumbing, access to automobiles, et cetera…but, of course, a decade earlier even fewer people had electricity, indoor plumbing, or automobiles.

In fact,  just a few years earlier dirt floors were normal in the US, just like China. The very idea of what isill-clothed, ill-housed, and ill-fed” had shot up in standard purely a as result of the “unfettered capitalism” of the 1920s.

If not for that period of economic freedom, dirt floors and cheap, crappy clothing, and malnutrition would have still been considered normal and adequate.

Likewise, you can find people talking about protests over living standards in China, now, where they focus about the slums around the big cities, how people don’t have gas heat, live in cramped conditions, et cetera.

But, of course, just a few years ago, most of those people were peasants living in dirt-floored huts, eking out miserable lives wading in rice paddies, barely growing enough to feed themselves after the government confiscated most of their product of labor, and living on barter.

They moved to those slums because, as in Industrial Age America’s “sweat shops” it’s an improvement over what they had before. If China continues to deregulate, their living standards will continue to get better, even as their idea of how they should live increases faster, making them complain more.

One of the greatest political scientists in history, Joseph Schumpeter (with a name like Schumpeter, he had to be good) actually thought that the doom of Capitalism might simply be that it caused things to get so good that people’s idea of what they deserved would outpace how much better things were actually getting, so that they would always turn to massive government intervention to “fix” it, causing the economy to fail.

This is what happened with Herbert Hoover’s massive spending increases and regulation causing the Great Depression, and is happening now.

Some Wealthy Did NOT Earn their Money, and Need to Lose It!

But it’s true that things are unfair, today. There are many people who do not deserve the wealth they have. They did not earn it themselves, but used bailouts, “stimulus”, corporate welfare, and other coercion to steal money confiscated from others. Their corruption and inefficiency has been preserved, like a limb with gangrene, and is killing the body of the economy…like a limb with gangrene. And that needs to end, yet both dominant political parties are actually defending and increasing this economic injustice.

Instead of obsessing with the jealousy and greed of class hate, comparing who has what and trying to take away from those who produce more, we need to increase the very conditions that cause “income inequality”, to allow the poor to increase their own well-being, even if the rich increase theirs even faster…but stop actively rewarding the wealthy through government fiat, when they haven’t earned it.

We should let bad companies and people fail, therefore increasing social justice, if not income equality.

BONUS FEATURE:

Here is the original article from the Site of the Sentient, written in 1996: Income Disparity: The Gap Between the Rich and the Poor

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Economy, International, Politics | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Why We Conservatives Should Watch Al Jazeera


I am a classic Reagan/Goldwater Conservative. I am careful to keep myself informed on every important socio-political issue, because I’m responsible that way. I find that almost has to include watching/reading Al Jazeera, and I challenge you to do the same…and this article will let you know why you want to.

Let’s start with this:

I’m about as strong an advocate of the free market as you can get. So why do I watch CCTV, Communist China’s truly evil state news network? It’s more chock-full of  tyrannical socialist propaganda than two Obama press secretaries times NPR cubed.

But I want to be certain I understand it and am opposing it from an informed position. Know Your Enemy, as they say.

If some gullibly loyal Chinese prole criticized American freedom, you’d demand that they at least take the time to understand it, or else they’re really a hypocrite and a fraud.

  • Hypocrite because they are (presumably) wanting to tell you why their system is better, but aren’t bothering to understand ours.
  • Fraud, because if they don’t bother to learn the internal arguments and claims, they can’t really know for certain what they’re talking about.

In case it’s not obvious, this applies to us, as well. I know far more about exactly how evil and wrong the Communist Chinese government is, exactly what kind of lies it tells, et cetera, from watching CCTV. I even know of things that I assumed were one way, but after seeing (and distrusting) CCTV, I’ve done research on my own and found out they really are another way. Without watching their network, I wouldn’t have even known what to find out.

I did the same thing with AllAfrica.com, and learned that sub-Saharan Africa is far different, and worse, than I actually thought. I can now see the sparse information I get, now, from the mainstream media on that region in an entirely different light. Almost every government in that area is a joke. They usually don’t even have market economies in the sense socialist Europe does, but something even closer to Marxism. Almost all of the poverty of the region comes from the intrusiveness and corruption of their governments, in ways more ridiculous than you’re imagining. “Banana Republic” doesn’t convey it to you adequately.

I’ll take some time to write about it, another day.

Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya

Israeli Colonel Ben Gruber explains the IDF position to Al Jazeera, attacking the UN's condemnation of Israel

So, naturally, I started reading Al Arabiya and watching Al Jazeera, with the intention of learning about the spin that Doha and Dubai put on news, to see exactly how people were being fooled with lies about American mass murder and plots to destroy Muslims, find out if they were teaching potentially good people that Jews are red-eyed, baby-eating demons, learn whether they were cheering terrorists, explaining the values of Al Qaeda screeds, et cetera.

And that’s sufficient reason to watch it. In fact, it’s a region whose attitudes and perspective is even more important to understand in America than China and Africa.

What I found, though, astonished me to the almost to the point of confusion:

Unlike CCTV’s lies, or AllAfrica’s unintentional revelation of government’s destruction of sub-Saharan Africa, Al Jazeera was packed with actual, solid information and reporting, presented with slightly more objectivity than American mainstream news (though that isn’t saying much).

I’m not exaggerating.

For example, Al Jazeera frequently covers Israel-Palestinian incidents from the Israeli perspective, as well as other ways. They show commentary by Israeli government officials I barely knew existed, Israeli and Jewish people you’ll not otherwise hear from, Israeli issues you never hear about, et cetera. Not only does the American Liberal media drop the ball on this, but so does the Neocon media like Fox News, and radio talk show hosts.

I actually have a better, and more sympathetic, understanding of Israeli perspective on events, thanks to Al Jazeera.

In fact, does a better job of revealing the flaws of every one of the Arab/Islamic states (that I expected it to sell to me as virtuous) than American or other foreign media.

The same is true of Al Jazeera’s coverage of other regions. I watched NHK (Japanese News) for a while, but Al Jazeera’s coverage of Japan is actually better, more objective.

Yohsihiko Noda, Japan's 6th Prime Minister in 5 years...I know about this, and why, not because of American, or even Japanese news, but thanks to Al Jazeera

No other network — and I watch news from all over the world — covered the Egyptian and Libyan revolutions from both perspectives, government and protester, as objectively and calmly as Al Jazeera. The second best was the BBC, but it paled by comparison.

More importantly, Al Jazeera cover the protests in Bahrain and Yemen, and the brutal crackdowns by the Saudi government that rules over them, with the same clarity and detail as Syria (and covers Syria better than anyone else)…and yet you, probably, had no idea that the “Arab League” member states were ignoring vicious crackdowns in their membership just as bad as there.

And, of course, they also cover Arab perspectives. If you depend on Mainstream Media, including Fox and neocon talk shows, you have no idea what the actual Arab or Muslim perspectives are. They simply don’t present such things, at all. They don’t even really pretend to.

You, especially if you’re a Conservative or another ideology that values self-responsibility, need to have a source of perspective outside of the two party-Establishment media cliques here in the US.

Of the options, Al Jazeera is the time-saver; more objective, detailed, and wide-ranging than even the BBC. Watch them for the information, or if you’re determined to believe they’re evil, the way I still think of CCTV, then at least watch them to Know Your Enemy.

But DO NOT trust them…because you should not trust any external source. Always verify things for yourself. But if you don’t have a source like Al Jazeera, you don’t even know much of what you could be checking out.

Where do you find Al Jazeera? PBS has it, but if you have a distaste for networks coercively funded by your tax dollars, a far better alternative is the cable network Link TV. They not only broadcast the full Al Jazeera half hour in English, but better still; they have a show they put together themselves, called Mosaic, that includes news broadcast from many foreign sources, including Al Jazeera, and Israel’s own nationalized television news (never forget that Israel’s government, including Likud, is socialist), IBA.

23 minutes a day, watching (or listening to, while doing other things) Al Jazeera or Mosaic, will double your ability to defend and advocate your own foreign policy beliefs, as well as making them better informed…because none of us has perfect knowledge, already.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | International, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why “Moderates” Have Always been Unelectable


Every time, for decades, the more principled candidate has won, and the "moderate" almost always lost.

They keep telling us that Mitt Romney is the only “electable” candidate…just like they claimed about John McCain and Bob Dole.

But, like McCain and Dole, the history is of Big Government “moderates” losing:

  • 1976

    Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan struggled through the whole primary season, reaching the convention with no majority.

    The Liberal “Moderate” Republicans, known as Nixonians and “Rockefeller Republicans”, said that even though Reagan had more delegates, Ford should be the nominee, because he was a “moderate”, therefore more electable.Reagan, with his “liberty” and “small government” talk, was too extreme, obviously unelectable.

    Ford, running as a moderate, lost.

  • 1980

    Reagan ran again.

    As before, the Rockefeller Republicans insisted that Reagan was unelectable. Low taxes, spending cuts, in the middle of a recession? Attacking government as the problem, instead of giving people hope by saying it could fix things?

    Madness.

    In fact, when he won the primary by beating John Anderson and George Bush, the Establishment Republicans actually ran John Anderson as a third party spoiler in the general election:

    The Republican establishment hoped to split the vote and get Carter re-elected. They actually preferred Liberal/socialist Carter over Reagan!

    The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is. – Ronald Reagan, “Inside Ronald Reagan”, Reason magazine, July 1975

    But “unelectable extremist libertarian” Reagan won the election in a landslide, beating “electable moderate” Republican John Anderson and incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter, combined.

  • 1992

    Bush won because he was Reagan’s Vice President, but in 1992, he had to run on his own record as a “moderate” Republican, the establishment rallying around to force his nomination in the face of challenges by two more candidates, one more libertarian and one more conservative. The “Moderate” Bush was supposed to be more electable.

    Bush, running as a Moderate, lost.

  • 1994

    Two years later, rebellious Republicans refused to follow the Establishment’s advice, running  on a libertarian Conservative platform, the Contract with America. The establishment worried that the lack of a more moderate stance would hurt their normal mid-term gains. This was the first time the Republican party had run for Congress without a “moderate” agenda, in generations.

    Instead of losing, the Republicans running on principle took all of Congress, for the first time…in generations.

  • 1996

    The “Moderate” Republican Establishment had regained control.

    Faced with a very libertarian candidate and more conservative one leading in early primaries, they managed to force the “moderate”, Bob Dole, into winning the nomination. Those two non-Moderates were deemed unelectable, despite the lesson of two years earlier.

    Dole, running as a Moderate, lost.

  • 2000

    W Bush ran as a Conservative. He promised school choice, Social Security reform, and “no more nation building”.

    Naturally, running as a Conservative, he won.

  • 2004

    But it turned out to be a lie.

    • Instead of less centralized education, we got a more socialist education system through “No Child Left Behind”.
    • Instead of Social Security reform, we got Medicare Part D, the biggest entitlement expansion in history.
    • Instead of “No more nation building”, we got endless wars and trillions squandered overseas, killing our sons, driving oil prices up 700%, and crippling the economy.

    He should, therefore, have lost in 2004, exposed as a “moderate”.

    But the Democrats committed political suicide: Dumping the clearly principled candidate Howard Dean, they went for “Me-too Democrat” John Kerry, who was “Bush Lite” on pretty much every topic.

    As usual, the more “moderate”, unprincipled candidate lost.

  • 2006

    "Moderates" lost Congress to the Democrats in 2006, but only four years later, the TEA Party's principled stand won it back

    The Republican party carefully ran as “moderate”, as defenders of their “moderate” President. In each election where they had done so in the dozen years that they’d controlled Congress, they’d lost ground…and now they were out of time.

    Running as Moderates, the Republicans lost.

  • 2008

    Once again, the Establishment fought back challengers who were more libertarian and Conservative, to ensure that one of the two, supposedly electable, “moderates” won the nomination.

    John McCain, running as a Moderate, lost.

  • 2010

    To the horror of the Establishment, the TEA Party began ousting “moderates” in the primary, leaving the Republicans with 60 “unelectable” candidates who supported libertarian Conservative principles.

    The TEA Party, running on principle, took back the House, only four years after losing it.

In the entire modern history of politics, and especially the Republican party and Conservatism, there has been a nearly perfect pattern of “moderates” losing nationwide elections, and principled candidates, running on small government, winning.

This is because people support principled candidates, but either stay home or vote for the candidate a  “moderate” one is imitating.

The lesser of two evils is still…EVIL.

“Moderates” are not electable.

February 4, 2012 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics | , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

   

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