Too Much Wealth?

On Chiefio’s blog, he has just discussed political notions of “left” and “right” and compared attributes of communism, socialism, progressivism and the UN’s “Agenda 21.” One commenter there, from South America, suggested that one problem was the accumulation of too much wealth. This triggered a response from me, which I post here:

I am troubled by the notion that a government can decide, as you suggest, that a person has too much wealth — that it is is insane “for one individual to have way far more than necessary.” As President Obama put it in the US, “At some point, you’ve made enough money.”

I disagree with that premise. If an individual or company makes large amounts of money legitimately, they are welcome to it in my opinion. All you are doing is creating, instead, a government that is insane and that possesses “way far more than necessary.”

But there IS corruption in the world, from countries in South America, Asia, Africa, all over the world — including the US, though we are not as badly afflicted. This corruption generally involves huge amounts of money and individuals and companies with the sort of wealth you decry.

This corruption has cost people their freedom to various degrees, and it is the source of the misery that plagues billions in the world today … inflicted upon them by their governments in the name of taking away wealth from those who have “too much.”

What’s the solution to that corruption? Is it merely getting rid of the wealth that you deem is too much, and thus making sure that no one has the freedom and power to become corrupt?

No. And I think that this reflects a misapprehension of the source of the corruption. Wealth is not inherently bad. Corruption is, and arises when government can be influenced to distort or eliminate the free market.

We’ve seen how it works: Despots accumulate huge wealth from their victims/subjects at the point of a gun, and dispense favors to their friends who happen to please them. The free market, if it exists at all, is merely the portion that these autocrats haven’t yet chosen to step on. People are free only to the extent that they haven’t come to the government’s “attention.”

And even those of great wealth know that it is ephemeral, and could be lost on any day that they happen to fall from favor. The government could decide that it is “insane” for them to have “way far more than necessary” — and give it as a favor to someone else they suddenly like more.

This is a case of too much power, and in entirely the wrong area.

Instead, the original US solution would be worth putting in place again. Restrict the government to certain carefully limited duties, with checks and balances in place, and never let the government have control over the free market. If you eliminate that control, there is nothing for a potential corrupter to “buy” from a compliant government.

If bribing an official can’t change the business rules in your favor, such bribes will go away. Then, the free market can continue to drive tremendous prosperity, for all countries and peoples in the world that follow this example.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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