Hoof-in-mouth economics

In response to Piketty’s Pickle: Undercut His Thesis or Defend Use of Inappropriate Data:

There may not be any direct accusations of academic fraud against Thomas Piketty yet, but it’s pretty obvious his work is false and disingenuous – the Left gets suckered by another fast-talking con man with hockey-stick numbers, just like the global warming scam.  Of course, they want to get suckered.  They deeply want to have something resembling empirical scientific evidence to back up the centralization of power.

It was always the American, Constitutional understanding of coercive power that it is fundamentally immoral.  It’s a dangerous, toxic substance necessary to the maintenance of an orderly society, but it was supposed to be deployed very carefully.  Those who wield power were supposed to viewed with a skepticism they cheerfully accepted, as part of the humility essential to public service in a free republic.  There are a few situations that can only be resolved by the exercise of government force, but they are very few, particularly at the central federal level.  The benefit of the doubt was always supposed to favor liberty.

Socialism, draped in the priestly vestments of pseudo-science, seeks to invert that moral calculation.  They say it is immoral for central government to refrain from stepping in and taking control.  In the case of environmentalist obsessions, the very Earth itself is supposedly at stake, empowering coercive government to fight a never-ending, ever-expanding battle to defend it… a battle which, in practice, naturally devolves into the same old endemic corruption and special-interest service, writ large.  

And with “income inequality,” the quest for greater inescapable State power is even more open-ended, because there is virtually nothing the government cannot be empowered to tax or control, if we grant it the moral authority to decide how much money every American is allowed to make, how much property he is allowed to keep.  

It’s also a classic example of how government failure becomes the justification for even bigger government.  “Income inequality” is worse than ever in the United States, under the biggest taxing, spending, regulating, Constitution-busting left-wing President in history?  Why, that just proves we need an even bigger government to fix the problem!  It’s a process that will feature endless “fine-tuning” to correct the problems created by each round of fine-tuning, sick with corruption as the Ruling Class finds various ways to secure the fortunes of its very special friends (and top donors) from the confiscatory taxes and crushing regulations leveled at everyone else.  

Even if Piketty’s numbers weren’t basted in malarkey, it would be a mistake to focus on scientific rationales for the government to do something it has no right to do.  Addressing “inequality” through forcible redistribution is immoral, just as the government forcibly seizing one of your kidneys because someone else “deserves” it more would be immoral.  A lot of what socialists what the Leviathan State to do should be an absolute non-starter, no matter how many spreadsheets its advocates cough up.  

Besides, that never, ever seems to work the other way, does it?  No matter how many carefully reasoned, impeccably researched studies are advanced to demonstrate that private citizens can do something much better than the government can – privatized education, for example – the Left never says, “ah, well, with that kind of empirical evidence for the power of liberty, I guess we’d better go ahead and make government smaller!”

And no matter what elaborate economic theories are deployed to justify redistribution, it would be foolish to forget what it always works out to in practice: a smaller, poorer, less vibrant society, administered by a vast parasitic Ruling Class that skims 80 or 90 cents off ever dollar it “redistributes.”  It’s economic hoof-in-mouth disease, in which the “solution” is far worse than the problem.


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