Re: Could it be? Part III
The key point from the original post:
Incentives matter deeply and drive human behavior. It is a lesson statists and socialists never learn.
You want real world examples? Read this. My two favorite ones:
I have a few thoughts concerning your Corner post titled Bracketology. My wife and I are both Pediatricians. We own our own practice together. We have one PA and 7 other employees. We each gross about $200K a year. We have 3 young children at home, 2 of which are not in school. We also employ an in home Nanny. My wife has been torn for years about not being at home for these children, which are our biggest investment in the future. We operate parallel S corperations as PC’s, with a 50/50 ownership of the LLC that is our business. We file taxes jointly. After crunching some numbers concerning the President’s tax hike proposals, I have come to the following conclusions. If the President’s plan is [e]nacted, we will do the following:
1. My wife will become a stay at home mother.
2. At least 3 of my 7 employees will be released.
3. The practice will downsize to a smaller office space, i.e. less rent.
4. The number of patients cared for on a daily basis will drop by 40%.
5. My wife will come out of the forced ER call schedule for good.
6. I will gross $249,999.00 a year, exactly.
7. The net income of our personal home will decrease by less than $10 K a year from where it would have been if we changed nothing.
Reagan used to tell the story about how when he was a movie actor he’d make 2 pictures a year, which would take maybe 8-9 months, then lay on the beach for the rest of the year. The reason was by the end of the second picture he was in the 90% tax bracket, and it wasn’t worth all that effort to get another 10 cents on the dollar.
It didn’t hurt him, he said, as he made plenty of money anyway. But what it meant is that the cameramen, set designers, sound people, etc had to go out and look for part time work the rest of the year.
This experience was a primary factor in leading him to advocate lower marginal rates for top income earners. It helped average income earners too.
Some of us are old enough to remember the real-world folly of socialism. The collateral damage across the society is huge.
Guess some people are going to have to re-learn some timeless lessons. How many innocent people will suffer in the meantime, though?
Here is something for those who think we at Anchor Rising are being too rough on the Messiah. More here, too. Geez, whodathunk people would ever go that far to redistribute wealth? LOL.
Meanwhile, Malkin links to several good posts on the subject.
Come on now, just go buy stocks. After all, he says they are such a bargain now.
Here is more from (former Obama supporter) Cramer.
Instapundit links to thoughts about some bigger issues.
See below the line for Ledeen’s interpretation of how de Tocqueville would see current events:
…Most of us imagine the transformation of a free society to a tyrannical state in Hollywood terms, as a melodramatic act of violence like a military coup or an armed insurrection. Tocqueville knows better. He foresees a slow death of freedom. The power of the centralized government will gradually expand, meddling in every area of our lives until, like a lobster in a slowly heated pot, we are cooked without ever realizing what has happened. The ultimate horror of Tocqueville’s vision is that we will welcome it, and even convince ourselves that we control it.
There is no single dramatic event in Tocqueville’s scenario, no storming of the Bastille, no assault on the Winter Palace, no March on Rome, no Kristallnacht. We are to be immobilized, Gulliver-like, by myriad rules and regulations, annoying little restrictions that become more and more binding until they eventually paralyze us…
Tocqueville describes the new tyranny as “an immense and tutelary power,” and its task is to watch over us all, and regulate every aspect of our lives.
It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.
We will not be bludgeoned into submission; we will be seduced. He foresees the collapse of American democracy as the end result of two parallel developments that ultimately render us meekly subservient to an enlarged bureaucratic power: the corruption of our character, and the emergence of a vast welfare state that manages all the details of our lives. His words are precisely the ones that best describe out current crisis:
That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?
The metaphor of a parent maintaining perpetual control over his child is the language of contemporary American politics. All manner of new governmental powers are justified in the name of “the children,” from enhanced regulation of communications to special punishments for “hate speech;” from the empowerment of social service institutions to crack down on parents who try to discipline their children, to the mammoth expansion of sexual quotas from university athletic programs to private businesses. Tocqueville particularly abhors such new governmental powers because they are Federal, emanating from Washington, not from local governments. He reminds us that when the central government asserts its authority over states and communities, a tyrannical shadow lurks just behind. So long as local governments are strong, he says, even tyrannical laws can be mitigated by moderate enforcement at the local level, but once the central government takes control of the entire structure, our liberties are at grave risk…
It is evident that our associations, along with religion one of the two keys to the great success of the American experiment, are prime targets for the appetite of the state. In the seamless web created by the new tyranny, everything from the Boy Scouts to smoking clubs will be strictly regulated. It is no accident that the campaign to drive religion out of American public life began in the 1940s, when the government was consolidating its unprecedented expansion during the Depression and the Second World War, having asserted its control over a wide range of activities that had previously been entrusted to the judgment of private groups and individuals.
When we console ourselves with the thought that the government is, after all, doing it for a good reason and to accomplish a worthy objective, we unwittingly turn up the temperature under our lobster-pot. The road to the Faustian Deal is paved with the finest intentions, but the last stop is the ruin of our soul.
Permitting the central government to assume our proper responsibilities is not merely a transfer of power from us to them; it does grave damage to our spirit. It subverts our national character. In Tocqueville’s elegant construction, it “renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself.” Once we go over the edge toward the pursuit of material wealth, our energies uncoil, and we become meek, quiescent and flaccid in the defense of freedom.
The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
The devilish genius of this form of tyranny is that it looks and even acts democratic. We still elect our representatives, and they still ask us for our support. “…servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind…might be combined with some of the outward forms of freedom, and…might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.” Freedom is smothered without touching the institutions of political democracy. We act out democratic skits while submitting to an oppressive central power that we ourselves have chosen.
…The great Israeli historian Jacob Talmon coined the perfect name for this perversion of the Enlightenment dream, which enslaves all in the name of all: totalitarian democracy.
These extreme cases help us understand Tocqueville’s brilliant warning that equality is not a defense against tyranny, but an open invitation to ambitious and cunning leaders who enlist our support in depriving ourselves of freedom. He summarizes it in two sentences that should be memorized by every American who cherishes freedom:
The…sole condition required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community is to love equality, or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced, as it were, to a single principle.
As I said last time, we’re in for a hell of a fight. Or so I hope.