Monday, August 20, 2007
From Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves....
David Veksler points to a Wall Street Journal blog by Robert Frank that asks whether being born into money is necessarily an advantage, echoing an old American saying I believe I first heard in a lecture by Leonard Peikoff, "From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations."
What if growing up rich actually has disadvantages? And what if rich kids' penchant for spending -- and their lack of experience at earning -- catches up with them, and that unlimited ATM machine winds up empty? (Not to feel sorry for these people, just to point out a reality.)Frank has a crucial point, but, the last three sentences of the above and this, from his recent column on the same subject, make me think he would do very well apply it more widely, starting with himself:
Eventually, I argue, their money will run out. And much of the inherited wealth in America will flow back to people who actually earn it.... [bold added]
When I got to the Skills Retreat, I thought it would confirm my worst fears about growing inequality. Here was a camp designed specifically to help rich kids get richer (or at least, keep them from getting poorer). It was yet another way for the children of wealth to get a leg up on members of the middle class, who can't afford financial education camps and won't have big inheritances to carry them through life.Yes. Possessing wealth requires certain skills, but if these skills need to be learned, they also cannot be exercised without freedom. Given that the predominant ideas of a people will affect the type of government that they have, I find it alarming that a writer on finance seems to believe that wealth is some sort of static quantity that "the rich" are hoarding to the detriment of everyone else and sounds so sympathetic to the notion that we ought to "do something" about income inequality.
It is worth noting that Alex Epstein of the Ayn Rand Institute recently examined and found wanting the whole idea that income inequality is bad:
It is often implied that the rich get richer at the expense of everyone else--that if some get big slices of pie, the rest get only crumbs. But the exact opposite is true. Since wealth (including pie) is created, there is no limit to how much can exist--and the wealth of others cannot inhibit us from creating and enjoying our own. Further, the wealth creation of the richest Americans makes us far more productive and well-off.With intellectuals like Robert Frank fanning fear of an outcome inherent to capitalism, the very system that made America wealthy, it would seem that the same fate that befalls families that fail to teach their children survival skills can befall the world's richest nation.
The fact that the maintenance of "income inequality" across generations requires knowledge about how one earns and protects money is nothing to be smug about. It's something to learn as much as possible from.
Book Burning without the Carbon Footprint
Andrew Dalton has unearthed the Left's version of book burning -- "guerrilla bookshelving" -- and correctly notes that it is a confession of anti-intellectualism:
These sorts of guerrilla tactics represent the elevation of raw, disruptive action over the battle of ideas -- a legacy of the 1960s New Left. They are fundamentally an anti-intellectual phenomenon, even if their purpose in this case happens to be the defense of science against faith.He also notes that the practice of reshelving books violates the property rights of the store owner.
Reisman on the Credit Crunch
My executive summary, upon hearing that the fed was loosening credit over the weekend was,
Great! The government has caused a financial crisis by making it too easy to borrow money, and now it's going to solve it by ... making it too easy to borrow money.Economist George Reisman provides all the gory details -- but ends with an interesting possible way out. (HT: Myrhaf)
An American-Made Leash
Diana Hsieh notes that an American company is helping a totalitarian regime keep track of people and how this can easily harm American freedom:
[H]ow long before Tom Tancredo and company impose such measures on American citizens and legal residents in order to prevent illegal aliens from access to the "goods" of American life--not just government benefits, but also honestly-sought jobs, schooling, medical care, consumer goods, and the like?This will be done first as an "anti-terrorism" measure since so many Republicans "know"that an American garrison state is better than a defeated and prostrate Ummah.