Enemy egalitarian wealth redistributionists are soundly defeated on three separate intellectual battlefronts. Any one of the three would be enough for victory, but all three ensure that current wealth owners, without a doubt, are safely secure from political tyranny:
- Wealth redistribution is rationally and morally wrong
- Even if you believe leftist’s lies, redistribution will not work – it’s impossible to seize actual wealth (as opposed to the fruits of wealth)
- Even if lawmakers are deceived and try it anyway, it will severely harm the poor – the very people redistributionists claim they want to help – while leaving the rich unscathed.
A defense of capitalism along these lines is found in Chapter 17 of George Gilder’s book Knowledge and Power – The Information Theory of Capitalism and How It is Revolutionizing Our World (2013). He first defines the inequality problem – Why, on a planet full of poverty and deprivation, should a tiny minority be allowed to control all the wealth? He then explores the traditional answers followed by his justifications based on information theory. Let’s take a George Gilder fly-by over the three battle lines preventing our enemies in the war of ideas from confiscating private wealth.
Traditional critics of capitalism center around 1) fairness; and 2) the character of capitalists (i.e. accusations of greed). Fairness is argued to be a concern because perceived unfairness produces unhappiness with all its social detriments. But to focus just on happiness is to presume that leisured happiness is the goal of human life, when in fact, human advancement, productivity, wealth creation and wealth preservation are also goals. To focus on greed depicts human economic activity as simply trading greed for wealth – in this hedonistic worldview, humans become machines ruled by the pursuit of pleasure, manifested by their quest for material goods and sensual satisfaction.
Capitalists are attacked as greedy, wallowing in their underserved wealth. But the observed behavior of successful entrepreneurs is not greedy fat cats. The “idle rich” is a myth. Entrepreneurs, to the contrary, exhibit discipline, self-control, hard work and austerity. Their actual behavior (with limited exceptions) is far from greedy. Gilder argues that the truly greedy ones are socialists because they have such an appetite for confiscating unearned wealth and power. He writes that socialism is a conspiracy of the greedy to exploit the productive. The laziest way to gain unearned wealth is to persuade the State to take it away from others for redistribution. Next week, the Estate Planning War Chest continues our flight over the first battlefront – moral justifications for concentrated wealth – and then moves on to the second one – the impossibility of seizing actual wealth.