Wealth Creation – Wealth Redistribution

Much of the economic argument between right and left can be summed up concisely: wealth creation verses wealth redistribution.

Conservatives view wealth as limited mainly by the human mind. Vast industries have been created by the ingenuity, resourcefulness and creativity of those willing to take a risk to do so. All of civilization’s wealth has thus been accumulated and been made available to humanity. Of course there are always differences in how the wealth is shared. But the very bottom rungs of society in America have resulted in essentially the elimination of poverty.

Poverty in America nowadays is simply “he has more than me”, not the bare-dirt floor, open-sewer, famine-stricken, living minute-by-minute condition of the truly poor of the less developed world.

Progressives however view wealth as a zero-sum game. If Peter has acquired some wealth, it is because it has been taken from Paul. This is patent nonsense, because if it were true, the only wealth in the world would be the skins and clubs of the cave man, the wealthy would be those who have the most “toys” of that nature, skins and clubs, and no new wealth would be created.

And if you subscribe to the “skins and clubs” version of wealth, and that the world is simply populated by those who have more skins and clubs and those who have less, then it would seem fair to rationalize some scheme whereby the wealth is redistributed, so each person can have his “fair share” of them. That is, wealth redistribution makes some sense in the zero-sum game model.

But no, in the real world wealth is created where it did not exist before. And the free market rewards proportionately those who have contributed most to its creation.

Bottom line is that whenever there are differences of opinion, you can often frame the argument as wealth creation verses wealth redistribution. Then say which would you prefer: the wealth created by the free market, or the zero-sum skins and clubs created by totalitarian, centrally-controlled re-distributors?

And if the former, then you try to gain wealth by contribution to society. If the later, you try to gain wealth by becoming part of the elite of the re-distributors.

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