Wednesday, October 22, 2008

David Ames Wells on Socialism

"There explanation in no small part of what to many has seemed one of the greatest puzzles of the time--namely, that with undoubtedly greater and increasing abundance and cheapness of most desirable things, popular discontent with the existing economic condition of affairs does not seem to diminish, but rather to greatly increase. And out of such discontent, which is not based on anything akin to actual and unavoidable poverty, has originated a feeling that the new conditions of abundance should be further equalized by some other methods than intelligent individual effort, self-denial and a natural, progressive material and social development (the actuality of which is proved by all experience); and that the state could, if it would, make all men prosperous; and therefore should, in some way not yet clearly defined by anybody, arbitrarily intervene and effect it. And this feeling so far as it assumes definiteness of idea and purpose, constitutes what is called socialism."

---David Ames Wells, Recent Economic Changes, New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1891.

Unfortunately for Progressives and socialists like Walter Weyl, efforts to use the state to redistribute wealth in pursuit of "equity" have engendered the following. Division of society into more sharply defined classes than ever before due to Federal Reserve, income tax and other innovation-destroying government controls; the creation of segregated inner cities marked by chronic unemployment; inflation; an increasingly elite wealthy class that lives off investment but does not produce value; and the migration of industry to foreign shores in place of the rapid innovation characteristic of the laissez-faire period of American history. The spirit of envy; of something for nothing; of greed for a handout from the state rather than self-discipline as the source of wealth has destroyed this country's future.

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