There’s an old saying, “A short man does not become any taller by cutting the legs of a giant”, but growth is exactly what members of the Occupy movement and its supporters contend will happen if the 99 percent join together to cut the legs off the wealthiest 1 percent.
The objective is to achieve equality of outcome for all, they argue. In reality, this notion is nothing new; think Karl Marx’s seemingly noble statement, “To each according to his needs, from each according to his ability”.
The view that too much wealth in the hands of a few is unfair and should be redistributed by Congress has been steadily gaining ground, particularly with the “Millennials” generation.
Let me just say – as one who was raised by parents who eked out a living as farm workers during my entire childhood - of course life is not fair.
To be sure, people are distinctly different. They have varying degrees of self-confidence, virtue, or leadership qualities. They even possess very little or extraordinary amounts of artistic talent, athletic skill, or musical aptitude. And given a child’s geography, they’ll either enjoy or be deprived of varying levels of individual freedom, educational and economic opportunities, or environmental quality.
Likewise, some are born into grinding poverty, and some are born with the proverbial “golden spoon in their mouth”. And it is this disparity that disturbs people the most. After all, few can be unmoved by the persistent poverty afflicting millions in America today, and one need only take a drive in any city to “the other side of the tracks” or walk the “the wrong part of town” to see the contrast between a life of excess and a life of scarcity.
But humans themselves have also reminded us life is unfair in how they discriminate against one another as well. Thomas Sowell wrote “Nothing has been more common in human history than discrimination against different groups, whether different by race, religion, caste or in innumerable other ways… this discrimination has itself been unequal –more fierce against some groups than others and more pervasive at some periods of history than in others.”
In their zeal to right these variances, many have been easily persuaded to lobby for measures aimed at producing “fair outcomes”, “social justice”, and “income equality”.
If they won’t give, we will take, is their reasoning.
But this ignores the fact that millions who were born disadvantaged managed to climb steadily up the income scale on their own despite facing extraordinary challenges or economic barriers.
This is because counter to the equality of outcome approach that was popular in Europe during the 1700’s (collectivism, socialism, and central planning), America’s Founders chose the equality of opportunity path (free market, open competition, and individualism), and it made all the difference. It proved to be the most successful method in achieving social prosperity known to man, and was also equally essential in safeguarding individual liberties.
Not surprisingly, every other nation that banked on egalitarian measures, struggled in vain to achieve the same level of prosperity. Indeed, history demonstrates that the more collectivist the government model was, the more of impoverished its people became.
Centralized power concentrated in a few government planners who decided for everyone else what was fair, proved time and again to be counterproductive and brought about countless negative economic and social consequences.
In fact, in every instance where a system of vast redistribution and central command was implemented, coercion and terror was utilized in the name of “fairness” - as was the case in former Soviet Russia, East Germany, Cambodia, and former socialist China. Food was rationed, millions starved, and citizens were forced to serve the purposes of the state or be eliminated for dissenting (and millions were).
In the end, equality for equality sake left more people impoverished, miserable, and less free. In today’s modern world, one only need to look at the Cuban, North Korean, and Vietnamese models to get an idea of what equality of outcome policies will achieve.
This is certainly not the “equality” we should choose for Americans.
And yet, in a very real sense, politicians from both sides of the aisle have been choosing exactly that; increasing the size and scope of government to absurd levels by parlaying the fairness agenda into increased taxation, burdensome regulation, and unsustainable federal programs that are beginning to break the backs of taxpayers.
And despite the trillions of dollars in debt, unprecedented borrowing levels, and record spending that have produced record job losses and more people living under the poverty rate than ever, not surprisingly; these political spenders tell us things are still not “fair” enough. The dirty little secret is that the results will never be fair enough. This is because the collectivist measures advanced by the equality peddlers will never produce the Shining City on the Hill they promise will materialize – it never has.
In reality, nothing could be fairer than safeguarding an economic system proven to lift more people out of poverty, generate more prosperity, and create more economic opportunities than any other system in world history.
Achieving social justice will depend mostly on our freedom to make the most of market opportunities that come our way. Government can help by approving simple and fair rules, securing open competition, and easing the tax and regulatory burdens that create more and more opportunities for more and more Americans.
Daniel Garza was formerly Associate Director at the Office of Public Liaison for The White House. He is currently the Executive Director of www.TheLibreInitiative.com and a regular contributor to Fox News Latino.