Grab Your Ankles

From Jim Moran of Virginia:

We have been guided by a Republican administration who believes in the simplistic notion that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it and they have an antipathy towards redistributing wealth and they may be able to sustain it for a while but it doesn't work in the long run.

Remember, though, calling them socialists is racist.  Video here.


  1. Josh:

    Remember, though, calling them socialists is racist.

    Whining about what some fringe whackos say is childish and irritating, no matter who is doing it. The best way to deal with idiocy of this kind is to ignore it. Giving it attention only degrades this blog. It's like feeding the trolls.

    Back on topic, Jim doesn't look like he believes what he's saying. How does someone like him get elected?

  2. Jody:

    Josh - he's a Congressman, even if he's "fringe", he gets to help craft the laws.

  3. mjh:

    I think that this comes from a fundamental belief: that wealth is the product of society. This is different than my belief which is that wealth is a product of an individual.

    However, if you had the belief that wealth was a product of society, and not of individuals, then of course you'd think that redistributing wealth is the fairest thing to do. Someone who has more than others is simply taking too much, and that person ought to give it to those who haven't enough.

    On the other hand, if you believe that wealth is a product of an individual, then redistributing that wealth is theft.

    Talking about only the actions associated with the belief will not change the belief. How do we change the belief about the source of wealth in a society?

  4. Bobby L:

    Good point about changing belief mjh.

    I guess you could say I used to have a socialistic viewpoint in my younger days, but I place that on the lack of economical education I received as a youth. I'm not blaming the schools per se (though I feel that my 9th grade econ class was worthless in retrospect); I just think that there is a severe lack of economic understanding in society right now.

    I also think that a majority in our society have equated "equal opportunity" with "equal results", and "the pursuit of happiness" with "guaranteed happiness”.

  5. Methinks:

    How do we change the belief about the source of wealth in a society?

    Make them go live in one of these socialist utopias. If wealth were created by "society", then the Soviet Union would have had the most productive economy on earth. Instead of Mitterrand's socialism tanking the French economy, France would have surpassed the United States in economic growth by now. Instead of ushering in a long and strong bull market, Reagan's policies would have made stagflation worse.

    These socialists are too stupid to learn from history. How do you teach an idiot anything - especially that theft is bad?

  6. The_other_coyote:

    Good points mjh and BobbyL. I've noticed some other weird ideas floating out there in society. One is the notion that all of the wealth in America is in one static pie. For one person to have gotten a big slice of the pie, someone else had to have gotten "shorted." People don't seem to understand that the pie keeps getting bigger, and there's more for everybody if they will just work for it (and be productive enough to grow the pie, rather than standing around waiting for a free piece). To BobbyL's point - when I was young, I had friends who didn't put two and two together to recognize that some people just work harder than others, and should be rewarded for that effort. They didn't seem to recognize that the reason they lived in the nice part of the county was because their parents worked really hard, and worked long hours. I'm afraid that lack of understanding has taken over in this society. Too many people seem to believe that all cultures are equal. It's a short step from there to believing that all work is equal - that everybody should be paid the same no matter what their job, because all work is equal.

  7. Methinks:

    Other Coyote,

    These are not new ideas. They are the ideas of socialism and communism and have been around for nearly 200 years. All of these ideas have been put to the test before and all of them have failed (big surprise, since they are rooted in an economic fallacy - lump of wealth). The fact that we have become complacent as we have become more prosperous and that a significant portion of the population now believes that they are entitled to things they have not earned is not surprising. What surprises me is the inability to learn from history.

    The history of the 20th century teaches us that if we encourage the belief that everyone has a right to the pie without creating any of it and that creators of he pie have an obligation to share with strangers an ever larger portion of their creation, the pie will get smaller until there is no pie at all.

  8. Jim Hu:

    While I'm sympathetic to mjh's formulation (and I think it does explain a lot of the behavior), it's a false dichotomy.

    There's plenty of wealth that is the product of the interaction of society and the individual. Like the wealth of the people who get pork-barrel projects funded. Or the new jobs in law and accounting from Sarbanes-Oxley. And so on.

    Let's start by redistributing that wealth.

  9. GU:

    The most annoying trope I hear is "without the government, you'd never be able to make your money!!!"

    True, without protection from domestic/foreign aggression, a court system to adjudicate disputes, maybe infrastructure, and a few other things, it would be hard for a market economy to flourish. The problem is that over half the federal budget is spent on transfer payments (SS, medicare, medicaid, welfare, & unemployment). Add in unnecessary national defense spending (as opposed to justified defense spending), and most regulations/subsidies/corporate welfare, and well over a majority of federal money spent is not spent on things that help you make a buck, but rather it is spent on things that take your bucks away.

    I'm all for a limited government, and I am even amenable to a welfare state (though one different from our current irrational system) but until we have limited government, I will continue to dislike paying taxes to support so much waste.

  10. mjh:

    There's plenty of wealth that is the product of the interaction of society and the individual. Like the wealth of the people who get pork-barrel projects funded. Or the new jobs in law and accounting from Sarbanes-Oxley. And so on.

    Let's start by redistributing that wealth.

    Jim Hu:

    You are, of course, correct that these things exist. However, the source of the financing for those projects came as a result of taxation. You can hardly correctly redistribute what was taken through theft. The correct answer is to return the money to the rightful owner.

    So if you think that these government programs are unfairly distributing wealth, I think the answer is to give it back to those who created it in the first place.

  11. Jason:

    Why don't you just go along with what he wants. Get a gun, go around to his house and "share the wealth". Or if he is too well protected, go to the house of his extended family.

    Seems he would be ok with it. He is after all advocating exactly such behavior.

  12. Will H.:

    Socialism and communism has been around 2000 years not 200 hundred. First record of communism was in the first christian church around 35 AD. The book of Acts declared that early Christians (not yet called that) sold all that they had and gave to the church where they "had all things in common". Voluntary practice of "from each according to their ability to each according to their need." The church took in widows and feed people establishing the beginning of modern day social programs.

    A few things to keep in mind about the "experiment".

    First, the Christian expected Christ to come back soon and was not preparing for the long haul.
    Second, it was voluntary but peer pressure to give was strong. (Note: I can not find where Jesus told them to do this)
    Third, the Church became broke and Paul had to take up offering in other churches to help
    them out.
    Fourth, they had a problem with laziness and people taking advantage of the second. Orders had to be given that if people didn't work they didn't eat.
    Fifth, it did not become common practice in the rest of Christianity.

    Next case of have things in common and shearing the wealth was the Pilgrims in 1620 who each had a plot to farm but then shared the results. That didn't work out too well for them either. They prospered when they abandon that idea.

    Communism has failed every time it has been tried. It doesn't work for humans.

    Socialism is just another form of feudalism. The King/Lord/State protects and take care of the masses while setting the rules and tax rates.

  13. Les:

    Actually the roots of Communism and Socialism go back far further than even that, reaching back to the start of our species as sapient hunter-gatherers and having been a part of our way of life for so long it's become indelibly imprinted upon our psyche (Modern industrial society is only a century or so old, static agrarian society only a few milenia old, for the majority of human existance has been as nomadic or semi-nomadic herders/hunter-gatherers whose lifestyle could not support more than a couple hundred people in a single tribe)

    I personally found this essay very informative not only on why Socialism ultimately fails on the national level, but why people still insist on trying it over and over again despite this.

  14. Mike:

    Moran's quote is pretty good, but he'll have to go even further to upstage MN state senator Larry Pogemiller: