A social media conversation I had the other day, regarding the estate tax, provided this little gem:

Concentrations of wealth are indispensable for the existence of a civilization.

My fellow converser is correct. Without concentrations of wealth, that is to say without wealth inequality, societies as we know them could not function. Without “concentrated wealth,” i.e. the accumulation of capital, most businesses could not get off the ground. Without “concentrated wealth,” i.e. the ownership and control of assets, most businesses could not continue to function. And, without functioning businesses, there are no jobs, no goods or services, and no economy to speak of. This should be plainly obvious to anyone who gives 2 minutes thought to the subject.

The Red Chinese and the Soviet Socialists (among others) decided that the government, rather than the private sector, should concentrate wealth. They couldn’t make their economies work remotely as well as those where private concentration of wealth have in advancing society and living standards. Worse, in order for their systems to work, they had to coerce human behavior utterly at odds with human nature, i.e. loyalty to the state over the self and the family, effort without reward, and selflessness even in the face of others’ selfishness. This fundamental disconnect from human nature is why collectivist economic systems produced (and will always produce) misery rather than prosperity.

Not content with the stark lessons of history and the nine-digit death toll collectivism produce last century, todays Best-and-Brightest have taken to thumping the wealth inequality drum anew. They inform us that the richest 1% own half the world’s wealth, and we are supposed to accept as a given that this is a Bad Thing. They mix this in with the populist/social justice droning about income inequality (despite the repeated debunking of the latter), because people love to get incensed about someone else making more than they do, and conflating wealth inequality with income inequality gets them more populist outrage and therefore more eyes and ears.

Here’s the dirty little secret those Best-and-Brightest aren’t telling us. They don’t actually oppose wealth inequality. They merely want to be the ones who control it all.

Consider this “Democratic Socialist” movement, espoused by Bernie Sanders, his heir-apparent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and a number of other covetous leeches from the fetid lower circles of progressive hell. They tell us their ideas have nothing to do with the old Soviet-style socialism, because theirs is “democratic” in nature. And, indeed, they cocoon their positions in an airy, saccharine fluff of cotton-candy everyman language. Consider, in their own words, how businesses should be owned and operated in their kindler, gentler democratic socialist society. From their website:

Social ownership could take many forms, such as worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives. Democratic socialists favor as much decentralization as possible. While the large concentrations of capital in industries such as energy and steel may necessitate some form of state ownership, many consumer-goods industries might be best run as cooperatives.

Relying on people’s tendency towards motivated reasoning to enable their sneakiness, they offer up the fantasy of cooperative ownership of businesses as the “difference” between their form of socialism and the old, failed versions that the rest of us keep pointing at as stark evidence of the bankruptcy of their ideas. They then give themselves an “out,” because anyone who gives 2 minutes of thought to the subject will wonder where the concentrated wealth required to start and run many businesses will come from in such cooperative ventures. They admit that some industries “may necessitate some form of state ownership,” but guide the mind to old-economy industries like energy and steel, industries that the people amenable to this pitch are unlikely to have any interest in, and use the word “large” to suggest that incidences of state ownership will be outliers rather than the norm.

Fact is, though, almost any business requires a concentration of wealth, both to start and to continue. Capital markets exist to provide the wealth that businesses require, and capital markets require concentrations of wealth in order to function. Who honestly believes that Wal-Mart or Apple or Pfizer or Proctor & Gamble could have grown to what they are today without concentrations of wealth and capital markets?

We are told that society will be better under Democratic Socialism. We are told that nations like Sweden, where school is “free,” where health care is “free,” where there’s a robust social safety net, and where retirement is well-funded, are what we should aspire to.

Thing is, nations like Sweden actually have very little in common with the Democratic Socialist platform. They are market economies overlaid with large welfare states. Sweden has a stock market, so many businesses are owned by shareholders. There are also privately owned businesses, and the government has a significant stake in several dozen major companies. In other words, concentrated wealth, not “worker-owned cooperatives.”

The Democratic Socialists, or at least those who are honest with themselves, aren’t going to produce some nirvana of non-concentration. They are simply pushing for yet another incarnation of a repeatedly failed form of government. Their decrying of wealth concentration is a bait-and-switch, because somebody has to concentrate wealth in order for a society to function. Their inner desire is simple: they think it should be them:

Here’s the truth, brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world. Plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands. — NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Wealth concentrated in the hands of those who created it produces innovation, productivity, and more wealth – for everyone. Yes, it is abundantly clear that a rising economic tide lifts all boats. The world’s poorest are getting richer faster than anyone else, and that has nothing to do with the ideas of Democratic Socialism or any other collectivist economic system.

America’s Best-and-Brightest want to upend the system that created all this wealth, lifted billions out of poverty, and made the world a far better place, because of some misguided notion that the people who’ve concentrated this wealth neither act in a way that lifted billions out of poverty nor deserve to keep it. They accuse others of greed, but tell me, who’s greedier, the person who wants to keep his own money or the person who wants to take and control someone else’s money?

Concentrated wealth is necessary. It’s beneficial. And, most irrefutably, it’s inevitable. Those who’d take others’ wealth tell you it’s a Bad Thing, and they do so in an underhanded fashion, by “selling past the close.” They treat it as a presumptive conclusion, rather than as a point for debate, and go directly to mitigation. In this case, of course, “mitigation” means their assuming control and deciding the where and how of others wealth. Half the battle here is simply recognizing the tactic. The other half is simply noting the lessons of history. They are trying to re-brand socialism, but in the end, it’s the same old murderous cult.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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