Vanity Fair: Red All Over

Joseph Stiglitz has created a frisson of excitement among the chattering classes with his recent piece in Vanity Fair.  Stiglitz thinks that maybe the uprising on the Arab street will come here.  His article decries the fact that in America, a small percent of the population has the greatest amount of wealth.  He says they monopolize "the nation's income."  The nation's income?  What exactly does that phrase mean?

Stiglitz' article is a classic re-statement of Marxism's critique of free enterprise.  The idea that the rich somehow "control" all the wealth in the country, that they act in concert, that their actions harm those of lesser wealth, that income inequality is the thing we should focus on, and that the "nation" owns all the wealth created within its borders -- all of this was said before in Das Kapital. 

I'll take my own family as an example of why Stiglitz is wrong.  For most of his life, my father was the sole support of our family.  He worked with his hands as a carpenter every day.  When rain or snow canceled his work, he didn't get paid.  It was that simple.

He was grateful to his union for the fact that he didn't have to work weekends and overtime (unless he was generously compensated for it).  He was proud of his work, and should have been.  He never took a vacation that I can recall until he was 62 and on Social Security. 

My sister owns her own business, has traveled to Europe on the Concorde and sailed home on the QEII.  She and her husband take vacations at a Canadian hunting lodge and at a South Carolina beach house.  But they only get away for a few days each time because their small business demands 6-day weeks.  She's the financial success in the family.  I have not fared that well, but we own our home, have a flat screen TV, two cars, and a computer.  We sent our two kids through college, the first generation in our long family history to do that.  I can access Bach and Beethoven from my desktop anytime I want.  I consider myself blessed, even if Stiglitz thinks I'm oppressed. 

My public library loans me books-on-disc that I "read" while commuting up to three hours a day.  In 15 years, I've completed some 700 of them, including all of Dickens and Dostoevsky.  But President Obama thinks my commuting to Washington in my own car endangers the environment.  His stretch limousine, of course, is exempt from his new more stringent emissions standards.  And it runs, I am sure, on water vapor.

Stiglitz assumes that the top 1% of the top 1% are in league to screw the rest of us into the ground.  Classic paranoia.  The left hates the Koch brothers.  The right hates George Soros.  And Richard Mellon Scaife -- billionaire donor to mostly right-wing causes -- is distressed that Planned Parenthood may get its federal funding cut. 

The United States has the most generous rich in the history of the world.  Most of the charities they support have a better record of helping the poor and destitute than all the government programs put together.  That's why thousands of poor D.C. parents camped out overnights to get the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships that would permit their kids to escape into non-government schools.  What I call independence schools were started as charities, most of them faith-based. 

Churchill knew better than Stiglitz.  He said it more succinctly, too: "Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."

Actually, Winston was not even right here.  Under every socialist system, those who control the state get all the material rewards that used to go to investors and entrepreneurs.  That's why their people had to be walled in and they had to beg, borrow, or steal everything that was new from the productive and innovative West.

President Obama has no understanding of free enterprise.  He has worked only a few months for a private business, an experience he describes as "working behind enemy lines."  The rest of his working life has been spent in government, law, or academia, spending other people's money.  But emperors and plutocrats would weep in envy of the castles in Spain that let down their drawbridges for his wife, his daughters, and their friends. 

Ronald Reagan loved collecting stories from the old USSR.  Here's one: Communist Party boss Leonid Brezhnev was trying to impress his peasant mother with his massive Kremlin office.  She shook her head in disbelief.  He took Mama to his apartment, but she looked really worried.  Then he brought her to his hunting lodge.  She clammed up.  Finally, he showed her his dacha on the Black Sea.  She wailed in fear.  "Leosha!  Leosha!  What will you do if the reds come back?"

Mama Brezhneva, maybe they have!

See also: Vanity Fair Test Marketing the Obama 2012 Campaign Themes

Robert Morrison is a frequent contributor to American Thinker from Annapolis, MD.
Joseph Stiglitz has created a frisson of excitement among the chattering classes with his recent piece in Vanity Fair.  Stiglitz thinks that maybe the uprising on the Arab street will come here.  His article decries the fact that in America, a small percent of the population has the greatest amount of wealth.  He says they monopolize "the nation's income."  The nation's income?  What exactly does that phrase mean?

Stiglitz' article is a classic re-statement of Marxism's critique of free enterprise.  The idea that the rich somehow "control" all the wealth in the country, that they act in concert, that their actions harm those of lesser wealth, that income inequality is the thing we should focus on, and that the "nation" owns all the wealth created within its borders -- all of this was said before in Das Kapital. 

I'll take my own family as an example of why Stiglitz is wrong.  For most of his life, my father was the sole support of our family.  He worked with his hands as a carpenter every day.  When rain or snow canceled his work, he didn't get paid.  It was that simple.

He was grateful to his union for the fact that he didn't have to work weekends and overtime (unless he was generously compensated for it).  He was proud of his work, and should have been.  He never took a vacation that I can recall until he was 62 and on Social Security. 

My sister owns her own business, has traveled to Europe on the Concorde and sailed home on the QEII.  She and her husband take vacations at a Canadian hunting lodge and at a South Carolina beach house.  But they only get away for a few days each time because their small business demands 6-day weeks.  She's the financial success in the family.  I have not fared that well, but we own our home, have a flat screen TV, two cars, and a computer.  We sent our two kids through college, the first generation in our long family history to do that.  I can access Bach and Beethoven from my desktop anytime I want.  I consider myself blessed, even if Stiglitz thinks I'm oppressed. 

My public library loans me books-on-disc that I "read" while commuting up to three hours a day.  In 15 years, I've completed some 700 of them, including all of Dickens and Dostoevsky.  But President Obama thinks my commuting to Washington in my own car endangers the environment.  His stretch limousine, of course, is exempt from his new more stringent emissions standards.  And it runs, I am sure, on water vapor.

Stiglitz assumes that the top 1% of the top 1% are in league to screw the rest of us into the ground.  Classic paranoia.  The left hates the Koch brothers.  The right hates George Soros.  And Richard Mellon Scaife -- billionaire donor to mostly right-wing causes -- is distressed that Planned Parenthood may get its federal funding cut. 

The United States has the most generous rich in the history of the world.  Most of the charities they support have a better record of helping the poor and destitute than all the government programs put together.  That's why thousands of poor D.C. parents camped out overnights to get the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships that would permit their kids to escape into non-government schools.  What I call independence schools were started as charities, most of them faith-based. 

Churchill knew better than Stiglitz.  He said it more succinctly, too: "Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."

Actually, Winston was not even right here.  Under every socialist system, those who control the state get all the material rewards that used to go to investors and entrepreneurs.  That's why their people had to be walled in and they had to beg, borrow, or steal everything that was new from the productive and innovative West.

President Obama has no understanding of free enterprise.  He has worked only a few months for a private business, an experience he describes as "working behind enemy lines."  The rest of his working life has been spent in government, law, or academia, spending other people's money.  But emperors and plutocrats would weep in envy of the castles in Spain that let down their drawbridges for his wife, his daughters, and their friends. 

Ronald Reagan loved collecting stories from the old USSR.  Here's one: Communist Party boss Leonid Brezhnev was trying to impress his peasant mother with his massive Kremlin office.  She shook her head in disbelief.  He took Mama to his apartment, but she looked really worried.  Then he brought her to his hunting lodge.  She clammed up.  Finally, he showed her his dacha on the Black Sea.  She wailed in fear.  "Leosha!  Leosha!  What will you do if the reds come back?"

Mama Brezhneva, maybe they have!

See also: Vanity Fair Test Marketing the Obama 2012 Campaign Themes

Robert Morrison is a frequent contributor to American Thinker from Annapolis, MD.