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On Plutocrats and Pitchforks

I had to read the article, twice. I think it was meant as a new economic paradigm, or a call to action for the nation’s 1%. At times though, I thought it was a parody. I mean, who talks this way in public:

” … not rich businesspeople like us … we reminded the masses that they are the source of growth and prosperity, not us rich guys … the thing about us businesspeople … we rich people have been falsely persuaded …I earn about 1,000 times the median American annually … if any of us had been born in Somalia or the Congo, all we’d be is some guy standing barefoot next to a dirt road selling fruit … 

I’ve never met or heard of the author, Nick Hanauer. Maybe he’s a nice fellow. By all accounts he’s been extremely successful in business and, since he’s put pen to paper to advance some solution to a problem, good for him for engaging in a public discussion about something that he feels passionately about.  Yet, his skills seem better suited for business than politics or, for that matter, economics.

Hananuer is right about a few things, for example, that the 1% are not necessarily the main job creators of the U.S. economy. And, yes, the change needed to improve economic liberty will not come from Washington, DC. However, his proposed solutions will only make matters worse. Forcing companies to raise the minimum wage makes no economic sense. And improving government services, rather than eliminating red-tape and empowering the private sector, put the nation in a bad economic situation to begin with. Yet, Hananuer wants more of it:

Capitalism, when well managed, is the greatest social technology ever invented to create prosperity in human societies … Balancing the power of workers and billionaires by raising the minimum wage isn’t bad for capitalism. It’s an indispensable tool smart capitalists use to make capitalism stable and sustainable.

You can’t manage capitalism, but you can manage crony capitalism. But that is for another day. For now, just remember that “well managed” and “balancing the power” are code words of the social justice movement. To Hannauer, and many other social justice acolytes, men and women are not created equal, rather we require looking after, by them, because we are too stupid to take care of ourselves. Hannauer writes:

The folks like us at the top have always told those at the bottom that our respective positions are righteous and good for all. Historically, we called that divine right … I look at the average Joe on the street, and I say, “There but for the grace of Jeff [Bezos] go I.”

It reminds me of something I read in read in college, many moons ago:

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas,” Karl Marx.

These people see themselves, as Kings and Queens lording over us, the little people. Yet over the long run these folks are fomenting the very conditions that will lead to the pitchforks they seek to avoid. Notice that the article is all about them. It starts and ends with the “pitchforks” are coming, for them. And it send in the same way: “we could sit back, do nothing, enjoy our yachts. And wait for the pitchforks.” Quite selfish and, yes, elitist.

The social justice people do not trust free will, individuals, or free markets. Like the Star Trek’s alien Borg race, the social justice people trust nothing but the collective because they think they can control it. They want to force change on society with higher taxes and regulations to advance their view of social change that includes, you guessed it, more dependence, not less, on government services and hand outs. Think ObamaCare, Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaPhones, government bail outs, Social Security, etc.

What makes America exceptional is liberty and the power of the individual to forge a life free from government and other meddling. Since the New Deal, local, state, and federal governments have flipped that idea on its head. The social justice crowd, ironically empowered by the very tools they seem to abhor or feel guilty having, are trying to push the nation into a very bad place. The good news is that there a lot more of us than of them, in both political parties, including the very wealthy who ascribe to a vision other than this one.

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