The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Zero Sum Universe

I'll be blogging only intermittently over the coming three months. The reason—I'm in the process of starting an automotive accessories company—design, manufacturing, distribution, and all. I'm getting some help from my son, who is also my business partner, but 12-hour days and a start-up life style leave little time for political commentary.

Since his election, Barack Obama has done nothing to surprise me, and of course, elections do have consequences. In this case, the consequences seem to be continuing foreign policy fecklessness and domestic incompetence, but no surprise there. That's what the people voted for and that's what we've got.

P.J O'Rourke summarizes the current (and I fear, future) state of domestic politics when he addresses the President directly:
But the worst thing that you've [Obama] done internationally is what you've done domestically. You sent a message to America in your re-election campaign. Therefore you sent a message to the world. The message is that we live in a zero-sum universe.

There is a fixed amount of good things. Life is a pizza. If some people have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza box. You had no answer to Mitt Romney's argument for more pizza parlors baking more pizzas. The solution to our problems, you said, is redistribution of the pizzas we've got—with low-cost, government-subsidized pepperoni somehow materializing as the result of higher taxes on pizza-parlor owners.

In this zero-sum universe there is only so much happiness. The idea is that if we wipe the smile off the faces of people with prosperous businesses and successful careers, that will make the rest of us grin.

There is only so much money. The people who have money are hogging it. The way for the rest of us to get money is to turn the hogs into bacon.

Mr. President, your entire campaign platform was redistribution. Take from the rich and give to the . . . Well, actually, you didn't mention the poor. What you talked and talked about was the middle class, something most well-off Americans consider themselves to be members of. So your plan is to take from the more rich and the more or less rich and give to the less rich, more or less. It is as if Robin Hood stole treasure from the Sheriff of Nottingham and bestowed it on the Deputy Sheriff.

But never mind. The evil of zero-sum thinking and redistributive politics has nothing to do with which things are taken or to whom those things are given or what the sum of zero things is supposed to be. The evil lies in denying people the right, the means, and, indeed, the duty to make more things.
So we'll raise taxes on "the rich" and pay for about 10 days of government spending in 2013. No worries about the other 355 days, we'll just borrow and borrow some more, Obama's fed will print money to buy the debt (QE4) and the ship will ever so slowly sink. "Evil?" Nah, it's just a really, really stupid ideological position.

Back to work on building a small private sector company. See ya in a few weeks.