I just completed End the Fed by Ron Paul. I appreciate his passionate plea for real money. I agree with his argument about the morality of elastic money. I am still not sure if ending the Fed is necessary, but more transparency is definitely needed.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about wealth redistribution policies. Several people have explained to me how the government can play a meaningful role in helping others improve their lot in life and achieve greater security with sums that aren’t really that much when you realize it comes via small amounts from ALL taxpayers. Our economy has changed drastically in recent years and old skills and methods no longer work in today’s more complex world. While in the past I have been the type to say, “Let people suffer the consequences of their bad decisions,” I know now that many of the people suffering did not understand what would happen as a result of their actions (or inaction).
Since we all benefit when productive citizens keep their salaries, continue to spend money, have homes, aren’t forced to suffer the results of educational failures, set aside adequate reserves, or fail to avoid the siren call of immediate gratification, shouldn’t we help them avoid the damaging effects of their risky behaviors? After all, who are we to judge?
That’s why I think we need to continue to give money to the CEOs, bankers, and others who were unintentionally affected so radically in this downturn. We know that politicians are better judges of who should receive the productive fruits of our society’s labor than the free market. We should purchase the bad investments those who unwisely made them for more than they are worth (TARP), and lend these people money at below market rates so they can still make a profit even as they are forced to liquidate foreclosed homes for a fraction of the loans made against them. After all, government should provide a safety net, right? These programs only cost each American about 4,500 dollars + interest. I’m sure that knowing us taxpayers are there to bail them out will prevent them from pursuing such risky behavior in the future.
Once you agree that stealing from one group to give to another is not immoral- especially if your intentions are noble, then the means of acquisition are less relevant. It could be accomplished through fraud, exploitation, inflation, or taxation. The real problem comes when you must rely on a small group of individuals to distribute those confiscated funds. If the means of acquiring the funds is exploitation, CEOs will distribute the wealth, taxation means politicians, inflation relies on banks and politicians, and fraud and extortion is the domain of mobsters. It is not hard to imagine that the spoils will go disproportionately to those who can most benefit those in charge of allocating the monies. The poor and dispossessed seldom bring much benefit to the allocators. I don’t know that any of these groups outshines the others on the virtue scale.
Whether you are a drug abuser, single mom, free lance consultant :), banker, CEO, or blue collar worker, we all tend to think our mistakes are small in comparison to the lapses in judgments of others. It would be nice to avoid the consequences of our poor decisions, lack of effort, or risky gambles. However, those consequences are the price you pay when you believe you also have the right keep the upside of wise judgment, hard work or a successful gamble/investment. You can’t have it both ways.
So concentrate power if you must so that wealth redistribution can more readily happen, but realize those in power don’t happily give up their power. Unless you have power, don’t expect wealth redistribution to come to you. Do expect that those in power will now have more control and the rest of us will lose our liberty and security in the process.