Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Oh, Ye Liberal Dreamers

Over at Isaac Butler's ever-provoking Parabasis, Isaac's question of the day is:

Given the runaway rise in income disparity in this country, and the large amount of wealth based here, why shouldn't one of the government's goals be large redistribution of wealth via social programs?
Normally, given enough time and alcohol, I'd write a long rant-slash-answer about this, but since the "book" is taking up so much of my available brain matter, I'll respond this way:

Yes, but how? Collectivization, which is what your question is, well, possibly romanticizing, was the m.o. of the early USSR and almost universally acknowledged to have been a grand social experiment that resulted in a grand social failure. I'm not talking about 1987, but 1927: the manner in which wealth was being redistributed ultimately generated famine, death and fear in the populace; Marx didn't exactly provide a how-to module for his otherwise admirable (to me) theories, and then his theories were perverted irrevocably by that fatherly fellow Stalin. More fundamentally -- and please note that I say this having just had lunch with Isaac a week ago and still feel smitten with him (in a way that won't freak anyone out, people, please) -- I'd ask Isaac this question: Are you ready to part with your own wealth immediately. I can think of a lot of ways his wealth could quickly and rather fairly be redistributed.

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