Politics as Usual

I’m going to talk about Huey Long and Karl Marx, just thought I’d warn you right off the bat.

What Is Wealth? What good is it? How much is enough? Wealth could be defined by possessing or controlling resources, be it gold, property, or the more ephemeral intellectual properties. You can only generate just so much by your own labor. A miner can only dig up a finite amount of minerals. A farmer can only plant so many acres by himself. A developer can only build so many houses with out help. You can only write or read so many books, or so much computer code. What good is it? It makes life possible at the low end, and eases the burdens of labor in the middle, and allows leisure at the higher end. When someone hires someone else to do the mining, the farming, the building, the entertaining the person doing the work doesn’t get all the wealth generated. The person who founded the company gets a cut of that wealth. According to Karl Marx that defines capitalism. You don’t have to agree with his view of what should be in order to agree with his description. The description is the first part of his manifesto. Huey Long was the Governor of Louisiana in the 30’s, AKA the Kingfish. Huey Long was the only challenger that FDR thought stood any chance at all. He was assassinated before he could run for President. In the 1930’s the era of the robber barons was starting to end. But there were some seriously wealthy people back then. Well how much is enough? That was Huey Long’s question. If you have enough that you won’t have to do hard labor, your children won’t HAVE to work, neither will your grandkids, or great-grandkids, or your great-great-grandkids. At what point do you have enough? That was the Kingfish’s argument. You might say that, “Well government shouldn’t just reach into our pocket to redistribute wealth.” Really? All taxes do that, not just income tax. You pay property tax, you pay sales tax, you pay levies and tariffs {taxes} on imported goods, you pay license fees for your car, boat, or anything else that needs a license. Think it’s in your interest to keep all your money? Mary Mallon probably felt that way. She sure didn’t want to quit her job and be dependent on the state. She was a housekeeper/cook for families that ended up dying of Typhoid Fever. She was Typhoid Mary and she had to be forcibly confined to prevent her from working. She insisted she had never been sick a day in her life. It’s probably a good idea to lock up people who are spreading contagious diseases. I think that qualifies as the common good. So who pays for it? TAXES. Well people should take responsibility and if someone injures you you can sue. Okay, Mrs O’Leary from Chicago, you want to sue her? Her cow tipped over a lantern and started the great Chicago fire. I don’t think she would have been able to pay to rebuild the city, and I know the cow couldn’t. Well that’s why we have fire departments. And they’re paid by? TAXES. Not always though, in ancient Rome Crassus, as well as other rich people, owned private fire departments. And if your house caught on fire they would come over…. And make an offer to buy your house. The offer would go down as your house did.

Am I against people getting wealthy? No, but if the reason to accumulate wealth is to make life easier I don’t think making a billion dollars in 4 years, {as did Michael Milken} is going to significantly improve your standard of living over making 100 million in 4 years. So that isn’t the point of wealth like that. About the only thing you can do is give it back. By that I mean scholarships, research, charity, etc. Actually a number of rich robber baron types did give some back, there would be no Carnegie Hall otherwise. Paying taxes does take some of that discretion away, unless you buy the politicians. Even after buying the pols some of these people still don’t want to spread the wealth around. They could start by paying their people enough to keep them off welfare. And since welfare is paid for by taxes you would think they would get it. A big chunk of it is going to come out of their pockets either as welfare or wages. If you pay it as wages then you KNOW they’ve earned it. If they pay it as welfare through taxes, they end up claiming that it’s lazy people that don’t want to work. So you want to judge people? And you don’t believe in giving them the benefit of the doubt. They’re guilty until proven industrious? I’m going to throw in one final thing before I find out if I can post something this long. If you get accused of a crime you are innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the state not the individual. I was taught that they did that to minimize the number of innocent people sent to prison. It was better to have some guilty people go free than to have innocent people rotting in prison. I think the same could be said economically, better for someone to get food stamps when they don’t need them than to have people going hungry in the land of plenty. During Aaron Burr’s treason trial {he was the first Vice President to shoot anybody while in office} the jury wanted to bring a verdict of “Not Proven” rather than not guilty. The onus being on the government. I can dig that. And that is one thing I don’t like about Obama, Bush may have started the Patriot Act, but it’s use has been expanded. See what you get if you read all the way to the end.

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