Saturday, May 14, 2011
Outside The Gulag
The principal difference between the Left and Right as pertains to fiscal policy is to strip money of the concept of ‘value’ and replace it with the concept of ‘rights’. The whole movement is animated by the Utopian vision of ‘collective salvation’. In most countries of the world they wouldn’t give you a plug nickel for a beggar’s carcass - dead or alive. You would nevertheless have to pay a certain sum for a freshly killed chicken. A chicken has value in that it can be eaten.
There are, of course, excesses on all sides of the argument. Why should some people be living in the lap of luxury while others are starving? And, what happens when ‘rights’ are extended to animals as some purists demand?
The logic, as always, breaks down on its fringes. The ‘rights’ advocates already find themselves on shaky ground in that what they advocate does not and has never existed (successfully). Their vision boils down to pure rhetoric. The ‘values’ people are constantly on the defensive having let the gulf between excess and need get out of hand.
The recurring question (and problem) concerning the latter is: Who would administer the standard to which we could all agree? Clearly, none of us are the same. We have different talents and are burdened with different vices. Some are creative; others are drones. Some sound compelling on the radio; some do not. Some can play basketball better than others. Should each one be treated the same – as is appropriate under the law – in fiscal matters as well?
The Leftists would concur that this is indeed their goal. It is the sum total of their Utopian vision. All they would need to implement it is the mandate and power to overturn the present system.
Even Leftist would abandon their vision if they could grasp the consequences of their quest. Their vision assumes that by exchanging a (perhaps) relatively minor part of a car’s engine, all the other parts would continue working just the same.
When Jaguar rolled out its E-Type in 1961, several publications ranked it as the most beautiful car of all time. And that it was. I remember coming out of a Chinese restaurant in New York City one night and seeing one for the first time. A sizable crowd had gathered around it. I was mesmerized.
Almost immediately, owners started complaining about the car’s Lucas (British) electrical system. Later, this issue was said to have been solved by swapping out Lucas for Bosch (German). In this case, the swap turned out for the best.
When talking economics, however, the swapping out ‘value’ for ‘rights’ does not augur well. It would likely mimic a body rejecting a transplant. ‘Value’ will always be a key component as long as human beings are allowed to make choices. ‘Rights’ can only extend to the degree that choices exist. The very logic that the Left is asking us to accept is incompatible with human experience outside of the gulag.