If we don’t Redistribute Wealth…

…then a few oligarchs will end up controlling everything.

distribution

This idea, that without “wealth redistribution” (and Socialism/Communism) all wealth will soon end up in the hands of a few oligarches with the rest of us destitute is pure Marxism. (See Thomas Sowell’s book “Marxism” for details–note that Sowell was a Marxist for much of his youth.) It misses important factors. One is that the various goods and services that are popular, that the people at large value, changes over time. Another is that there’s a constant pressure to develop new, more economically efficient, means of bringing goods and services to the market. And when new ones arise, the folk invested in the old ones are rarely the ones to take advantage of them.

John D. Rockefeller cut the legs out of both the whale oil industry (and may be responsible for the survival of several species of whale long enough for groups like Greenpeace to even think about the idea) and rival petroleum companies by coming up with cheaper ways to produce kerosene, like making it several times cheaper.

Andrew Carnegie did much the same for Steel.

Then there was Henry Ford doing the same for the automobile.

James Cash Penny was a serious wakeup call to previous retail giants Sears and Montgomery Ward (mail order giants) with his chain of department stores that improved transportation (the automobile) and the growing network of roads made possible.  He got his start working literally for free just to “learn the business.”  Turned that experience into a major retail empire.

Sam Walton turned the retail industry on his ear. Came out of nowhere to, in a relatively short time, become the supreme retail giant in the US.

Ray Crock took an unknown little hamburger shop and turned it into a Giant.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Elon Musk of Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX. Both folk who came essentially from nowhere to become billionaires building huge businesses that nobody predicted before.

I remember when “Cyberbooks” was a cute science fiction idea by Ben Bova. Now, well, now I carry an entire library in my shirt pocket–literally, more books than some of the rural libraries that I dealt with as a kid had on the shelves. And online? Have you browsed Project Gutenberg?

All of that stuff sprang up, all ended up “reshuffling” the wealth “deck.” New people, producing new forms of wealth and accumulating wealth as a result. Older things falling out of favor and losing share in the overall economy leading to people moving from failing industries to newer growing ones.

And all the rest of us?  Even the poor know wealth that John D. Rockefeller couldn’t even dream of.

At any given time, there are a few people who own a lot of wealth.  Some more who own somewhat less wealth.    And all the way on down to the “poor.” However, the “poor” of today aren’t the same as the “poor” of yesterday.  Those earlier poor did not have air conditioned apartments, cars of their own, cell phones, access (through their local library if not themselves) of computers and internet connections.  Those earlier poor did not have obesity as a primary health problem.  It took a bit of “sleight of hand” promoted by Marx (which didn’t originate with him; indeed, it seems that very little actually originated with him and he stole freely from others who today are far less well known) that someone can get poorer, even with a higher standard of living, so long as their “share” of the total wealth of society is lower.  A nice trick to ensure a never-ending supply of people who can complain about their lot in life no matter how much it has improved over times past.  Weaponized envy.

In any case, the idea that without the action of government wealth will gravitate to a few hands leaving the rest destitute is utter tripe. Free enterprise and voluntary transactions never worked that way. The only thing that works that way is coercive force.  And government is, by definition, coercive force.

The conclusion is left as an exercise for the student.

3 thoughts on “If we don’t Redistribute Wealth…”

  1. A minor piece of trivia. Michael S. Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, invented the ebook in 1971, long before Bova’s Cyberbooks. Hart typed the first 300+ books into Project Gutenberg himself. He was a good friend, and I miss him.

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  2. What’s the old saying about wealth in America? “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”.
    We see the wealthy advocate centrally planned economies in order to preserve their wealth by using the government to eliminate competition. After all, big government loves big business, and big business loves big government.

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