Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hidden entitlement: covert wealth redistribution

A reader sent a link to this fine article on a familiar theme (for him) by George Will, "The Hyperbole of a Conservative" (, November 16, 2008), with the following conveninet synopsis of extracted highlights:
[T]he supreme law of the land is the principle of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs ... the government that bilks the many for the enrichment of the few. But if conservatives call all such spreading by government "socialism," that becomes a classification that no longer classifies: It includes almost everything ...

Hyperbole is not harmless; careless language bewitches the speaker's intelligence ... This is the only major industrial society that has never had a large socialist party ideologically, meaning candidly, committed to redistribution of wealth. This is partly because Americans are an aspirational, not an envious people. It is also because the socialism we do have is the surreptitious socialism of the strong....

In America, socialism is un-American. Instead, Americans merely do rent-seeking -- bending government for the benefit of private factions. The difference is in degree, including the degree of candor. The rehabilitation of conservatism cannot begin until conservatives are candid about their complicity in what government has become. As for the president-elect, he promises to change Washington. He will, by making matters worse. He will intensify rent-seeking by finding new ways -- this will not be easy -- to expand, even more than the current administration has, government's influence on spreading the wealth around.
[Hat tip to K.K.]

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