Thomas Sowell, mentioned in an earlier post, wrote a wonderful article, The Fallacy of Redistribution. Sowell’s article concentrates on the practical aspects — redistribution has never achieved its stated goals, and never will. I want to examine the fallacies and hypocrisy inherent in the redistributionist philosophy itself.

In the United States, great wealth has invariable come from someone offering goods and services that others purchased. The Kennedy’s, for example, “allegedly” got their wealth trucking booze in from Canada during Prohibition. Gates got his wealth producing and selling software. Buffet got his wealth as an investment manager. In every case, people purchased what they were producing. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, and architects sell their professional services. Even hairdressers and barbers get their money selling their services. The difference is that people value the services of doctors, lawyers, architects, and engineers more than they value the services of hairdressers and barbers. If hairdressers and barbers tried to charge the same rates as lawyers and doctors, no-one would purchase their services. (Well, almost no-one.)

Sure, some people inherited their money. So what? If they are stupid, they will spend it all an be broke. It’s not much different from winning the lottery. And isn’t that part of the American Dream — to leave your children better off than you were? Sure. Even the 0bama’s send their daughters to private school. Is that “fair” to the poor kids who cannot afford private school? Well, since 0bama does not support school vouchers, I guess he doesn’t really care about fairness in that regard. But even inherited money was first earned by the person it was inherited from.

So, that money was earned in free exchanges. If you don’t think Microsoft Windows is worth the price Gates wants to charge you, don’t buy it. Just get a pirated copy from the Chinese. Do you think the 5-Season set of Babylon 5 CD’s is overpriced? Don’t buy it. Just get a pirated copy from the Chinese.

People do not purchase products and services if they think the price is too high. Nor will producers sell at a price they do not consider fair. That is the beauty of free commerce — both sides think they are getting a good deal. Every purchase truly is a win-win scenario.

But along come the redistributionists, who think you were robbed! The man that sold you that widget charged you too much. You were too ignorant and stupid to see it at the time, so you paid too much. Your doctor charges too much, and you are too ignorant and stupid to know it. So the redistributionists have to come in, take some money from the doctor, and give it back to you stupid and ignorant people.

So, if the masses are so stupid and ignorant that they are repeatedly getting overcharged, how can these stupid and ignorant people possibly be trusted with the franchise?

Now, let’s look at the source of the money instead of the sinks. If the people believe that a cause is worthwhile — The Boy Scouts, Planned Parenthood, Meals on Wheels, Head Start, the Virginia Association of Free Clinics — they will give their own money to those causes. They will start their own charities. If the people cannot be trusted to make wise decisions of how to donate their time and money, as consumers cannot be trusted to make wise decisions spending their money, how can they possibly be trusted with choosing those who will choose for them how much will be taken from them and what causes to put it to?

Those are the two dilemmas of redistributionism in a republic: the people are too stupid to spend their money wisely, and too stupid to give their money wisely, so how can they be trusted to vote wisely?

That is why redistribution requires totalitarianism.