Donald Boudreaux wrote an excellent piece Questions for redistribution’s proponents:
A few gems:
• While Dr. Smith earns more money than does poet Jones, poet Jones earns more leisure than does Dr. Smith. Do you believe leisure has value to those who possess it? If so, are you disturbed by the inequality of leisure that separates leisure-rich Jones from leisure-poor Smith? Do you advocate policies to “redistribute” leisure from Jones to Smith — say, by forcing Jones to wash Smith’s dinner dishes or to chauffeur Smith to and from work? If not, why not?• Would you prefer to live in a society in which everyone’s annual income is $50,000 or in a society with an average annual income of $75,000 but in which annual incomes range from $10,000 to $1 million? And regardless of the choice you would make, do you think others who choose differently are in error?
• Would you prefer to live in a society in which everyone’s annual income is $50,000 or in a society with an average annual income of $75,000 but in which annual incomes range from $10,000 to $1 million? And regardless of the choice you would make, do you think others who choose differently are in error?
Prefessor Mark Perry adds two additional worthy questions:
5. Many extremely wealthy people (movie stars, celebrities like Oprah, businessmen like Warren Buffet, filmmaker Michael Moore, and Robert Reich for example) who are in America’s “top 1%” by income (some are easily in the top 1/0 of 1%), often complain about income and wealth inequality in America. And yet these wealthy individuals rarely take any direct actions themselves that could reduce income inequality immediately, e.g. giving away a majority of their multi-million dollar annual salaries and unburdening themselves of millions of dollars of their wealth (stocks, real estate, cars, airplanes, etc.) and living on a modest, but still very comfortable incomes of say, $200,000 per year. Isn’t it inconsistent that most of these individuals hoard a majority of their income and wealth to live lavishly without taking immediate steps to redistribute their largess to those less fortunate and reduce the income/wealth inequality they complain about? If not, why?
6. Many Americans express great concern about income inequality in the United States, but seem relatively unconcerned about global income inequality. For example, nearly half of the world’s richest 1% of people live in the U.S., and the threshold required to make it into that elite group is only $34,000 per person, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic. Is it inconsistent for an American making $34,000 to complain about the incomes and wealth of the top 1% in the United States and yet show no concern for the fact that he himself is in the top 1% of the world’s population based on income? Many Americans making $34,000 and above support income redistribution schemes (e.g. raising taxes on the top 1%) to reduce income inequality in America. Because they are themselves in the top 1% of the world’s population by income, shouldn’t these Americans also support redistribution of income and wealth from themselves (the world’s top 1%) to dirt-poor countries like Zimbabwe? If not, why not?
True liberals should be outraged at how relatively stingy rich liberals are with their own money. It makes one wonder of their compulsion is really the betterment of humanity or the transfer of power.