Wisdom about Wealth, Poverty, and Freedom

“We have no right to judge the rich. We do not believe in class struggle but class encounter where the rich save the poor and the poor save the rich.”
—Mother Teresa

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”
—Milton Friedman

“The care of every man’s soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills.”
—Thomas Jefferson

“Tariffs, quotas and other import restrictions protect the business of the rich at the expense of high cost of living for the poor. Their intent is to deprive you of the right to choose, and to force you to buy the high-priced inferior products of politically favored companies.”
—Alan Burris

“The more laws and restrictions there are, the poorer the people become.”
—Lao Tsu

“The higher entry standards imposed by licensing laws reduce the supply of professional services … The poor are the net losers, because the availability of low-cost service has been reduced. In essence, the poor subsidize the information research costs of the rich.”
S. David Young

“Liberals believe government should take people’s earnings to give to poor people. Conservatives disagree. They think government should confiscate people’s earnings and give them to farmers and insolvent banks. The compelling issue to both conservatives and liberals is not whether it is legitimate for government to confiscate one’s property to give to another, the debate is over the disposition of the pillage.”
Walter Williams

“Politics is the art of obtaining money from the rich and votes from the poor on the pretext of protecting each from the other.”

“Somehow, the fact that more poor people are on welfare, receiving more generous payments, does not seem to have made this country a nice place to live – not even for the poor on welfare, whose condition seems not noticeably better than when they were poor and off welfare. Something appears to have gone wrong; a liberal and compassionate social policy has bred all sorts of unanticipated and perverse consequences.”
Irving Kristol

“You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”
John Henry Boetker

“When democratic governments create economic calamity, free markets get the blame.”
—Jack Kemp

“The historical debate is over. The answer is free-market capitalism.”
—Thomas Friedman

“If there are still honest-smart men and women within those old and noble traditions, they should think carefully, observe and diagnose the illness. They should face the contradiction. Discuss the conflation. And then do as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and many others have done. Choose the miracle of creative competition over an idolatry of cash.”
—David Brin

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
C. S. Lewis

“Government cannot make man richer, but it can make him poorer.”
—Ludwig von Mises

Floatin’ ‘Round the Sun, Lookin’ for a Handout

Surfing the Twitterfeed this morning, I came across a revealing tweet—revealing in that I’m amazed that grownups really do engage in such childish thinking. I’m reproducing that tweet below. Because of the hypercompressed 140-character limit of a tweet, the original message took some effort to read, so I’ve decompressed it for ease of reading:

“Do you really believe we’re supposed to work 8 to 14 hours a day to live on a planet that floats around the sun in this vast universe?”

I tweeted back:

” To restate: ‘The universe owes me a living.’ Defies ancient wisdom. Good luck w/ that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopper .”

Good luck with that, Grasshopper.

It’s discouraging to realize how many people in this world have no concept of how human civilization functions. Things like wealth, food, transportation, computers, smart phones, and the other accoutrements of our culture do not simply pop into existence because our planet “floats around the sun in this vast universe.”

All of these things exist because people work, create, sacrifice, invest, and produce. Productive people make it possible for us to enjoy the benefits of civilization. Willfully nonproductive people—those who are able to be productive but choose not to—are a drag on the economy and a detriment to society. (Obviously, a compassionate society takes care of those who are mentally or physically incapable of work, so I’m not referring to those who, through no fault of their own, are incapable of being productive.) 

Wealth doesn’t simply exist. It doesn’t fall out of the sky. It doesn’t come from nowhere. Wealth must be created, and wealth is created through work. If you think the universe owes you a living, you are profoundly ignorant. And if you, an able-minded and able-bodied human being, are not doing your part to create wealth for the benefit of yourself, your family, and your society, then you are a parasite, living off the productivity, creativity, and industriousness of others.  

So the answer is yes, I really do believe you’re supposed to work 8 to 14 hours a day to live on this planet. That is real-world wisdom. Defy this ancient wisdom at your own risk.

David Brin: Government, Society, and the Future

Some excellent, forward-thinking ideas from one of my favorite authors, David Brin.
I don’t endorse everything he says, but it’s worth a listen and serious consideration.