by Jim Davies, 2/7/2012
Romney regularly places it in his mouth, to the great delight of the Democrat dominated, statist Main Stream Media (MSM) and last week gave them an irresistable opportunity to ridicule the guy. Well, not quite irresistable; his rival Ron Paul, ever the gentleman, declined to join the scorners.
The mis-speak was that following his Florida victory Romney would focus his strategy on the big middle. He wouldn't care about the very poor, because they have a safety net, nor about the very rich, because they're doing nicely, but on the "90-95%" in between, who are "struggling." Given his unspoken but statist premise that government has any business helping anyone in any socioeconomic segment, this made very reasonable sense as a campaign strategy. But the MSM delighted in ripping his one phrase out of context, repeating with relish that this frontrunning Republican "doesn't care about the poor."
They didn't fault him about not caring about the rich, though they might well have. If the very rich (the 1%, say) are not pampered by government, but if they are reviled and taxed and regulated and harrassed, they will up and leave. And like it or not, the other 99% of us depend on them for jobs. They are the geese, who lay the golden eggs; kill them off, we all wither. They are the priceless assets of American society, who have worked so hard and so well that against all odds they have made it. We should admire them - and on Romney's statist premise, government should go out of its way to help them, not frighten them off into tax havens and more sympathetic environments like Singapore and even China.
But of course, Romney's statist premise is wrong. Government should neither help nor hinder anyone; if it exists at all (and it should not, and before long it will not.) Nor should it do what Gingrich said in reply, which is to provide the poor not with a safety net but a trampoline; neat response, but one that misses the point just as widely as did Romney and the MSM.
But, but, if government doesn't help the poor, the middle or the rich, what will it do? - excellent question. Answer, nothing at all. It will vanish.
Second answer: not only should it help nobody, it cannot help anybody, net. Whenever it helps A, it necessarily hinders B (and probably C, D and E...) - and the simple reason is that it has no resources whatever, with which to render anyone any assistance. If it does favor A, it must take resources from others. Given that no such redistribution can be done without some transaction costs, it follows for certain, as night follows day, that any and all of it reduces the total resources of the community. Worse yet: to the extent that it does favor some groups against others, false and misleading signals are given by all the groups so distorted; one segment may seem more prosperous than it really is, for example, and so stimulate production of goods and services that in reality are not wanted and will not sell. Everywhere, government destroys wealth.
But, but... aren't there any things government can do to smooth the path of everyone? How about ruling that all shall drive on the right of the road? - doesn't that greatly reduce the chaos (raise the efficiency) of road transportation - and at virtually zero cost?
Yes, I concede it. But that was done once, a century or more ago, and doesn't need doing again - and if government hadn't been around it could and would have been done by agreement among road owners, in their own interests, pretty darn quick. There was and is absolutely no useful thing government can ever do, that an unfettered market could not do - and better, cheaper, or both.