Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sharing the Wealth

I came across an interesting theory the other day in a passage quoted from a column by Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Harris Green, who wrote:

“Whatever the rich receive, it is not due entirely to their own talent and effort, as many would have us believe. They owe their parents. They owe the teachers and counselors and clergy who taught them and civilized them. They owe the farmers and truckers and grocery store workers who put food on their tables, and the firefighters and police officers and emergency medical technicians who protected them from harm and further harm. The list of people they owe is endless. Therefore, whatever success they achieve in life is due mostly to the talents and efforts of a legion of people.”

There is a long list of reactions to that passage, among which are:

  • All of us—not just the rich—owe “who we are” to some degree to the people who influenced us along the way, and that includes parents, teachers, counselors, clergy and others who motivated us.
  • Some of the “legion” of people Mr. Green cites have had nothing whatsoever, or very little, to do with whether or not people succeed, including farmers, truckers, grocery store workers, police, fire fighters, and EMTs.
  • If we aren’t rich, some of the responsibility for that is ours.
  • Mr. Green appears to have a broad streak of envy/jealousy for people who have money.
  • Mr. Green is pushing a communist/socialist agenda that proposes to take from wealthy people and give to less wealthy people.

What Mr. Green is suggesting is that despite to whatever degree Jane Doe took advantage of the opportunities to learn, used her brain and worked hard, she really isn’t entitled to the wealth she has, and because some farmer grew the vegetables she ate, and some grocery store employees sold that to her family, and because the town her family lived in had police and fire departments, all those people and their families are entitled to her wealth.

There is a sizeable faction on the Left in this country that would do exactly what Mr. Green implies ought to be done, if they could. They haven’t learned the lesson from the economic and social failure of, China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and the former Soviet Union: Socialism and communism just don’t work, and history bears that out. Americans ought to understand that lesson implicitly.

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