“Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth. The evidence is incontrovertible. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man’s well-being is not their goal.” — AYN RAND, “Theory and Practice,”Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 136
‘Poverty is not a justification to rob “the rich.”
What about the poor under capitalism? The question accepts the collectivist premise that wealth is a static quantity owned by that amorphous super-organism, the “collective” to be looted from those individuals who create it. The other side of that question is: what about those who arenotpoor? What of them? Let us not forget that the “rich” are people too with anequalright to their life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. The fact that one is poor is no justification for robbing someone who is less poor than you. That a man does not have riches, and another does, is no excuse for the first to steal from the latter — neither is it a moral justification for the state to rob the first for the benefit of the latter.
Riches obtained through economic production vs. political plunder
By “rich,” I do not mean cronies who gained their fortunes by political pull, by having the government grant them favors and franchises at the expense of their fellow-men. By “rich,” in this context, I refer to businessmen who achieved their fortunes by economic means — through production and trade.
The poor, like the rich, need economic freedom under a rule of law
As for poverty, under capitalism, no poor man is prohibited from creating a fortune.
Observe that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century America how hundreds of poor immigrants came to America and within a generation were America’s newest elite. Even today, in semi-free America, many such immigrants come here starting with nothing and create fortunes — despite the volumes of irrational regulations that punish those who have an urgent need to accumulate capital (the poor).
The “poor” don’t need government handouts — they need government off their backs and off the backs of those who can help them — the “rich.”
“The real problem of poverty is not a problem of ‘distribution’ but of production. The poor are poor not because something is being withheld from them but because, for whatever reason, they are not producing enough.” — Henry Hazlitt
Who is the poor man better off under Mother Teresa or Bill Gates? A Mother Teresa who hands them bowls of slop every day, so they can barely exist — or a genius like Bill Gates who creates a fortune for himself by helping others to create fortunes for themselves, i.e., “where the first feed them for a day, the second helps them feed themselves.” Observe that it is the Bill Gates of the world (until recently) who are not allowed to exist in India — and the Mother Teresas who are.
To answer the question, “What about the poor under capitalism?” one must first answer, “Why are there poor people in the first place?” The source of all poverty is the lack of wealth, which must be produced. The source of production (and thus wealth) is man’s mind, which politically has only one requirement: freedom. Politically, this is the single cause of mass poverty: the lack of freedom. Observe the poorest countries are those where freedom is lacking.
Capitalism did not create absolute poverty, but it inherited it from pre-capitalist systems
Far from being a cause of absolute poverty, laissez-faire capitalism is the only solution to solving it. Observe that the freedom that a rich man needs to maintain and add to his wealth, is the same freedom a poor man needs to create his wealth — and the creation of wealth for both has the same root — reason.
The only requirement of reason from the state is entirely singular in principle: freedom, that is, the banishment of the initiation of force from all social relationships. This is precisely the freedom that the “humanitarians” oppose, since this “right” to freedom and liberty, can only come at the expense of the alleged humanitarian’s “might.” Since all men are free to create wealth under capitalism, no one is forced into poverty, as in non-capitalist countries.
Keep in mind that the moral justification of capitalism is not that it serves the “needs of the many,” but that it protects the rights of every individual — in particular, it protects the individual from the “many” (majority). Capitalism is notegalitarianism ideal of “social justice”; capitalism is forjustice.
Capitalism is the best — the ideal —theory, because to the extent that it is allowed to work, it works inpractice.
Since the 1960s the federal government has initiated countless programs to close racial gaps. All have failed, some have even exacerbated these gaps, but failure aside, all posited logical connections between the program and the intended beneficial outcome. Head Start, for example, rested on the plausible idea that blacks disproportionately suffered early childhood deprivations, and this limited their future accomplishments, so enrich early childhood. The Empowerment Zones of the early 1990s offered tax incentive to entice urban businesses to hire unemployed blacks. Yes, these and countless other nostrums came up short, but they were logical and fact-based and did not, by themselves, aim to transform American society.
Matters have drastically changed with the emergence of the White Racism theory of the crime. It is now no longer necessary to link cures and the intended outcomes; whites by their very existence are now responsible for all black tribulations. Why even try to prescribe one ameliorative fix after the next to target a particular ill when eliminating whiteness is the Mother of All Cures? Nor is it necessary for blacks to take any responsibility for their misfortune—whites must do the job. How simple and seductive for social justice warriors exhausted by plain-Jane incremental politics and having to change their own behavior.
This “white racism did it” theory can be understood as a form of mental illness, specifically magical thinking, “ a disorder of thought…[that] denotes the false belief that one’s thoughts, actions, or words will cause or prevent a specific consequence in some way that defies commonly understood laws of causality.” In other words, every black problem, no matter how miniscule or gigantic can be traced back to toxic whiteness. Even more bizarre, the logic of this “theory” of evil exclusively stresses thoughts, even unconscious thinking, as opposed to overt behavior. An odd parallel exists with some religions where “bad thoughts” themselves are a sin, so thinking about discriminating against African Americans its tantamount to actually discriminating against them. This is a transformation that not only awards immense magical power to brain waves but contrives America’s legal tradition that criminalizes behavior not (with miniscule exceptions) “bad thinking.”
Since whites and their legacy are everywhere, and their toxicity resembles inescapable background radiation, blacks must energetically stamp out this evil wherever they find it. Nothing is too small in this crusade. The picture on Uncle Ben’s box of rice is tantamount to a physical assault. Why else would removing Robert E. Lee’s name from a largely black school become so urgent? What’s the concrete benefit? Did black students fail because they daily observed General Lee’s name cut in stone and this damaged their self-esteem? Logic doesn’t matter—Lee’s name just somehow radiates whiteness, even if students don’t know who he is, and like gravity, his very whiteness invisibly pulls blacks down.
The opportunity costs of embracing this faith are huge. The supply of crackpot solutions to any problem are infinite, and provided ample funding is available, foolishness can persist forever and thus there is never any need to align solutions to tangible tribulations let alone admit that the problem is intractable. Ridding society of white racism is the equivalent of a full-time job with an unlimited budget for inventing an anti-gravity automobile engine, and rest assured, success will be just over the hill, around the corner, at the end of the tunnel, awaiting one adjustment to the devise, tweaking the fuel etc. etc. Just obverse how many blacks at college campuses devote their existence to overcoming omnipresent white racism versus actual learning.
Consider how this escape from a difficult reality plays out in the “diversity industry.” Thanks to the Faith, why ask embarrassing question about why blacks cannot move up the corporate ladder despite putting the screws on whites to promote diversity and huge investments in education? Far easier to cleanse the workplace to toxic whiteness by hiring black experts to spend thousands of hours eradicating hidden bias, structural racism and countless other sins afflicting whites. The website compiled by SHRM lists some 83 such diversity consultants happy to toil long hours to exorcise evils debilitating African Americans. The firm OutSolve, for example, “… gives companies the advantage of effective affirmative action solutions that are comprehensive, customizable, and budgetable.” OutSolve, moreover, offers “… experienced consultants are ready to help, with the most comprehensive affirmative action planning services and consulting programs available” and services range from developing affirmative plans, devising bias-free compensation standards and navigating government rules and regulations. Keep in mind that these 83 firms are in addition to the hundreds of in-house departments in larger firms and especially universities, that likewise provide professional exorcisms. Now, thanks to the availability of all these exorcists, discussion can focus entirely on details of detoxification, so why bother with black IQ, work habits and similar awkward question?
Quackery also attracts those eager to accept endless failure provided the pay is decent. White racism is a pesky pathogen, so there can never be a “Mission Accomplished,” and a lifetime can be spent pushing the rock up the hill and, after a point, rock pushing is all the rock pushers know. Think all the Deans of Diversity and Inclusion spending careers seeking out racism in undergraduate admissions, choice of majors, grade point averages, faculty hiring and retention, research funding, and every other university function. And who knows what persistent digging will eventually uncover? Gaps in student participation in class discussions? Access to local stores selling black personal grooming supplies? Perhaps holistic admissions are insufficiently holistic or STEM textbooks ignore scientists of color but whatever the alleged defect, rest assured it will be scrutinized, assigned to some committee’s agenda, a report written and discussed, a few cosmetic changes suggested and when that, too, fails, onward to the next putative time-wasting panacea.
Most importantly, embracing the centrality of whiteness as the all-encompassing evil virtually guarantees totalitarian creep. Or to use the Soviet vocabulary, you have to break ever more eggs to make the omelet.
To understand this progression, suppose that white racism can be calibrated on a 0 to 1.0 scale, with 1.0 being totally racist society, e.g., apartheid-era South African. Further suppose that by daily mandatory anti-racism seminars, school textbook propaganda, fantasy interracial TV commercials, speech codes, de-platforming heretics, hate crime laws and lots more, racism among non-blacks is reduced from, say, .6 to .1, a seemingly momentous accomplishment. Is this reduction sufficient to eliminate racial gaps and all other inequalities? Can victory be declared? The answer is, sad to say, indeterminant since the theory of white toxicity fails to specify a numerical relationship between the causal agent (white racism) and any specific outcome. This is social engineering sans any benchmarks. Everything is just fighting white racism.
Conceivably, white racism resembles plutonium and an infinitesimal amount in the city’s water supply can kill the entire population. Or lethality depends on huge levels of whiteness. Of course, nobody can specify levels of lethality and, tellingly, this murkiness is hardly a problem for those insisting on the evil of whiteness. Toxic whiteness is toxic whiteness is toxic whiteness. The result of this scientific muddle-brained thinking is that the white-racism-is- culprit- theory is beyond falsification.
Actually, to be fair, theory confirmation can occur when the levels of Racist evil fall to 0.0 on the Racism Scale but how do we empirically establish this “0” point? Not easy given the belief that society might only appear free of white racism, especially since blacks can unknowingly internalize it despite their blackness (think black teachers in all-black Detroit to explain bad test scores). And whites can be asymptomatic or guilty of imperceptible dog whistle racism.
Here’s the answer to establishing zero white racism: it will be zero only when blacks and whites have identical average SAT scores, bar exam pass rates, out of wedlock births rates, murder rates, home ownership levels, infant mortality rates, drug abuse levels, identical life expectancies and incomes, proportional Nobel Prize awards and lots, lots more. Any remaining gap, regardless of where found and size, would be proof of lingering white racism since, after all, that is the source, and only source, of all gaps. Put formally, the independent variable (white racism) is thus measured by values of the dependent variable (gaps). The new frontier of statistical analysis.
A further fly in the ointment is that since the existence of toxic racism is often necessarily subjective, the likelihood of everybody agreeing on the extinction of racism is nil. Surely the Theory does not permit confirming the Utopian 0.0 level of venomousness by majority vote. Now, since there will always be white racism, and since any (unspecified) level of this toxicity drives black misery, de-toxification must necessarily be ongoing, if not perpetual, and with every greater coercion as past failure mount.
A racial version of Zeno’s Paradox is inevitable—America can go from .5 racism to .25 to .125 and even .00078125 on and on, but it will never be free of racism since the effects of racism will always be evident, somewhere, in unequal outcomes or beliefs about unequal outcomes. To paraphrase George Wallace, White racism today, white racism tomorrow, white racism forever.
Needless to say, assuming that zero racism, like zero degrees Kelvin, is reachable, the cost of attaining zero white racism would, in all likelihood, be exponential given past experience with narrowing gaps. What would it take, for example, to cut the black/white homicide gap by a factor of eight? Or asset differences by a factor of ten? And on and on across multiple substantial and enduring race-related gaps?
Chasing this unreachable fantasy of total de-toxification necessarily requires enormous coercion since not even spending the entire GNP would suffice. Only draconian laws and administrative dictates could ensure that blacks and whites were educationally identical, earned the same salaries, were equally incarcerated, suffered equal drug addiction rates and on and on. Remember, any gap “demonstrates” the persistence of white racism and thus achieving racial justice requires harsher and harsher exorcisms.
Can fervent racial egalitarians ever be convinced to abandon this fantasy? Reasoned discussions are pointless. Forget arguing about financial constraints—money from white taxpayers is never a restraint, especially among the innumerate. Ditto for demonstrating the unscientific nature of this “theory” of Great Evil–too complicated and would probably be interpreted as a white ruse (”white science”) to subjugate blacks. What about empirically demonstrating that whites are not especially racist or that racism has seriously declined? Irrelevant since, as per theory of toxicity, a racism score of .25 or even .05 is just as debilitating as a score of .5 (and who can disagree given zero data or, for that matter, no efforts to collect these data). Nor will the failure of this “white racism did it” theory-of-the-crime vanish simply because anti-racism efforts fail. If anything, shifting the blame entirely to whites will reduce “agency” among blacks and probably only widen racial gaps, but this irony hardly disturbs the faithful. Actually, increasing pathology will be a boon for the close-the-gap anti-racism industry.
Extinction will arrive politically. Whites will eventually realize that putting the onus on whites for all black woes is but extortion and, as for all similar tactics, it has its political limits. There are inescapable budgetary constraints, legal barriers governing racial preferences and norms regarding fairness. More important, American politics is Newtonian–pushes and counter-pushes, and African American activists are not the only players in the game. The pay-me-for-my-victimization game is highly permeable, and those dispensing the goodies regularly confront cries of sexism, homophobia, ageism, Islamophobia and countless other claims on the public trough. In all likelihood The Great White Racism theory of the crime will eventually gradually loose its allure, just as religious fervor wilts with time, and today’s believer will move on to some new, more exhilarating dogma.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue has noted history’s great irony that “no segment of society punishes the poor more than those who champion their cause.”
In a scathing essay Tuesday, Dr. Donohue insists that the latest Marxist to “screw the poor” is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is undermining the cause of the lower classes by alienating those who generate wealth and create jobs.
De Blasio’s scheme to raise taxes on the rich in order to “redistribute wealth” and to close the “COVID achievement gap” is senseless, Donohue observes, since “the rich are leaving New York in droves” because of the city’s absurdly high taxes and taxing them at a higher rate “will only encourage more to leave.”
“They are taking their tax contributions and their jobs with them,” he adds.
Despite de Blasio’s claims, “fleecing the rich will do absolutely nothing to enhance academic achievement,” Donohue observes. “We have known for decades that there is no correlation between spending on students per capita and academic achievement.”
While de Blasio focuses on race, he turns a blind eye to the real causes of poverty and underachievement, Donohue asserts, noting that Asians are “people of color,” yet they have no problem succeeding in school.
“That’s because, unlike African Americans, the typical Asian family has a father and a mother at home,” he adds.
“So the ‘color’ argument that de Blasio favors — structural racism is holding blacks back — is completely false,” he continues. “Black kids from two-parent families are not failing in school. The real issue is the family, not race.”
Like others on the left, de Blasio cares more about upholding the public school monopoly and protecting the teachers’ union than helping kids.
If he really wanted poor kids to succeed in school, “he would spend money on charter schools, provide scholarships to private schools, endorse school choice, and allow the poor to enroll in Catholic schools,” Donohue observes. “Instead, he fights every initiative that works.”
While pretending to be a champion of the poor, de Blasio’s actions harm those he claims to defend.
Thus, he “drives the rich out of New York, shrinks the tax base, and does nothing to help the poor succeed in school,” Donohue notes.
Democrats and their liberal economic advisers obsess about income inequality. Will someone please tell them that no act in modern times has widened the gap between the rich and the poor more than the lockdowns going on right now?
Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the leftist National Low Income Housing Coalition, said, “The majority of the up to 17 million households at risk of losing their homes this winter are people of color.”
Politico reported that minorities and the poor have “been more vulnerable to job and income losses from the ensuing economic crisis, in large part because Black and Latino workers are over-represented in the service industries wiped out by shutdowns.”
James Parrott, an economist at the New York City New School, said that what the United States is experiencing is “the most lopsided economic event imaginable.”
The National Restaurant Association said that 40 to 50 percent of restaurants may go bankrupt in the months ahead if their stores don’t reopen immediately. Two of the U.S.’s most iconic restaurants, the 21 Club in Manhattan and the Cliff House in San Francisco, announced they had closed their doors permanently after nearly 100 years of business. As they die, so do hundreds of jobs in these cities. The workers out of work aren’t rich. Overall, 15 million middle-income people work for bars and restaurants.
Even Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and arguably the planet’s richest man, complained that the lockdowns exacerbate inequality. With tens of billions of dollars of added profits, Amazon has been the world’s biggest beneficiary from locking down brick-and-mortar stores.
For once, liberals are spot on.
Lockdowns are crushing the little guy. Even so, it is the Democrats who are pushing this anti-freedom agenda. Here are the 10 states listed by The New York Times with the strictest lockdown orders: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington. What do they have in common? Democratic governors.
Liberals love to talk about following the science, but all evidence of the last nine months points to the scientific conclusion that lockdowns do not work to reduce deaths. Contact-tracing studies show that about half of those infected with the coronavirus got it despite staying at home. Only 2 percent of the transmission comes from restaurants, and almost none comes from outdoor dining, which is now idiotically prohibited in California.
The states that have not locked down their economy have lower death rates than New York and New Jersey. The unemployment rate for service workers in these states has skyrocketed to as high as 10%. In contrast, the red states, such as Utah and Florida, that are still open for business have unemployment rates for service workers as low as 4 percent.
Yet lockdowns are supported by politicians, university professors, journalists, technology executives, government employees, preachers, teacher unions and wealthy suburbanites. Their incomes are not in jeopardy. They won’t wait in lines for a meal. Would teachers support school closures if they weren’t getting a paycheck? How many people get tenure like six-figure salaried university professors who have been inoculated from the lockdowns they cheered on?
I don’t see Yentel or many other “low-income advocates” protesting the lockdowns; do you? They think a government stimulus program of $1 trillion will solve the problems of the poor and the unemployed. Handouts are no substitutes for jobs and paychecks. Millions will fall through the cracks in any case.
There is an old joke about a boy who kills his parents and then throws himself on the courts’ mercy because he is an orphan. The modern-day version of that story is liberals who have helped burn down the house and then piously complain about rising homelessness.
Arthur Laffer, Walter Williams, Milton Friedman and so many other great economists have always warned us: The poor and minorities are the first victims of anti-growth and boneheaded public policies. Tragically, we are once again learning that lesson.
So, why is the left all in for lockdown policies? These policies are doing just the opposite of what they preach: “rewarding wealth, not work.” Perhaps the answer is that the left cares a lot more about power than the poor.