Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Dependent On Others"

I was talking with a friend at breakfast, and the subject of politics came up. (Hey, it's me!) She made the interesting comment that she has some more liberal views because she thought people should be more dependent on each other.

While I'm not entirely sure that I agree with that sentiment on a social level, I can say for certain that liberalism, if that is indeed its aim, is going about it entirely the wrong way.

Liberalism creates dependence on one entity, and one entity only. That entity is the government. People look to the government to pay for their healthcare, their retirement, their food, and their housing. People look to the government to educate their children, to protect them from "'hate crimes," and to assist with "emotional distress."

Liberals embrace socialism because it creates government dependence. (Socialism is, for good reason, a dirty word in America, so many liberals will never admit to this.) It does this in two closely related and interdependent ways. First, by heavily taxing those who achieve lifestyles which allow them to live without reliance on the government for their needs, it creates a disincentive to do so. Second, by utilizing the revenues to increase the governments power and provide many "rights" to the "less fortunate," it incentivizes a lifestyle dependent on the government.

The economic system advocated by conservatives moves this dependence from the government to other individuals. Capitalism, or "the free market" is by definition the interdependence of individuals of what is often termed "enlightened self-interest." Rather than trying to unnaturally force the naturally selfish creature we call humanity to give up all of its interests, this concept merely requires a level of cooperation for mutual benefit. Since I obviously cannot build my own computer myself from raw sand, copper ore, and petroleum, nor do I have the resources to obtain even these raw materials, I must seek ways to obtain them through mutual co-operation with other individuals. Since I do not want to grow my own wheat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cows to have my roast beef sub sandwich, I must co-operate with other individuals. By extension, many individuals seeking a common goal can form a corporation, which I as an individual or a corporation can interact with. This system creates a web of interdependencies allowing each person to do what he does best.

But, cry the liberals, some are not as fortunate, some are not well-served by this system.

Two responses are in order. First, the less fortunate are often those who used hard times as an excuse to seek handouts from others. Many a wealthy entrepreneur spent several years of his life trying and failing, living in poverty, but never giving up, to finally break through and achieve his goal. It should also be noted that charity is never a bad thing, but taxing the rich and providing welfare to the poor is not charity. In fact, it removes the opportunity for those who have the means to be charitable. Second, the system of socialism, historically, reduces far more to poverty than it ever brings up, while the system of capitalism has given many the means to remove themselves from poverty.

Capitalism is far more organic, efficient means of cooperation than liberal socialism could ever hope to be. It is also far more difficult to corrupt, and far less likely to be manipulated by any one person for their own gain at the expense of the rest of a society. Yes, everyone tries to "game the system" (gain a competitive edge), but, this competition breeds healthy growth, rather than singular greed and arrogance.