Some economists promote an egalitarian ideal and believe the alternative is evil. Those of us in the real world trenches of this economic war see the danger of trying to forcibly construct an ideal egalitarian society, which is unnatural and simply won’t work because of the immense, violent power of the elite wealthy.
McAdam and Kloos (Stanford University) point out that there are two equally legitimate but very different normative views on economic inequality. Deeply Divided (2014). First, those who believe we should do all we can through social programs to reduce economic disparities. Second, those who believe government efforts to promote equality are ineffective, encourage personal dependence on government and hamper economic growth. After highlighting the equal legitimacy between those two views, the authors conclude that economic inequality causes political inequality, which is unacceptable, so an egalitarian view is better because it helps disenfranchised people. They claim an egalitarian society is fairer and less prone to conflict. The big problem is policies that attack the extremely wealthy will end up inflicting damage to the moderately wealthy — that’s you!
The egalitarian ideal is not morally superior either. Inequality is inevitable under capitalism. McAdam and Kloos assert that those who believe Government cannot and should not work to change economic inequality, are selfish, mean racists. They invoke a concept called “social dominance orientation”. It labels some people as having “a preference for inequality among social groups”, the opposite of egalitarianism. Those who embrace a social dominance orientation “deny that all men are created equal and instead see some groups as clearly superior to, and more deserving than others. No doubt, race is one of the dimensions along which proponents of ‘social dominance’ believe society should be structured”.
Well isn’t that special. If you don’t hold egalitarianism as an ideal, you’re a morally inferior, evil racist! Isn’t that ridiculous? The church lady from Saturday Night Live is doing her Superior Dance on top of your Estate Planning War Chest.
Ignore it. It’s part of the thought wars. Capitalism is not evil. Statism, where the state has centralized control over social and economic affairs so it can pursue an egalitarian ideal, is immoral. In the words of Andrew Bernstein:
Capitalism is freedom – and freedom leads to prosperity. The moral is the practical. On the other hand, statism is oppression – and oppression leads to destitution. The immoral is the impractical. After two centuries of capitalism, 80 years of socialism, and a millennium of feudalism, the contest is over and the scores are on the board. The alternatives open to human beings are stark: freedom and prosperity or statism and misery.
Today’s Estate Planning War Chest take-a-ways: 1) Plutocrats are untouchable – worrying about them is pointless and attacking them will hurt your interests; 2) Capitalism and inequality are not immoral; and 3) it is immoral and misguided for the state to pursue pure wealth redistribution polices – more on that next week.