One article, titled “Spinning the Revolution,” seeks to undercut the value of the American Revolution by presenting it not as the kind of great world-shaking event that it was, signifying for the first time in human history the establishment of a government dedicated to the protection of individual rights, but as a matter of mere “spin,” manufactured by a collection of writers and pamphleteers. In the same vein, it belittles the value Americans have rightly attached to the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution by sarcastically describing those documents as being viewed as “sacred scripture."
Another article, “Billionaires to the Rescue,” which compares Warren Buffet’s gift of $31 billion to charity to the charitable giving of Andrew Carnegie early in the last century, proceeds as though it never heard of such a thing as the right to the pursuit of happiness. Clearly revealing the perspective of a collectivist, it dares to ask,
Is society served by permitting so much capital to be accumulated by so few? Should we have to rely on the usually unfulfilled hope that fortunes of this magnitude will be put to a good cause? What becomes of a society that must rely on "gifts" from a handful of socially conscious billionaires to save its schools, cure disease and alleviate poverty?The author believes that “society,” i.e., politicians and government officials have the right to thwart the individual’s accumulation of wealth, thereby denying his right to the pursuit of happiness. In claiming that it is an accidental matter whether large fortunes are put to a good cause, he reveals his ignorance of the fact that the fortunes are invested in business firms as capital, and thereby serve as the source of supply of goods and services to consumers and of demand for the services of wage earners. He demonstrates further ignorance in failing to realize that the high profits out of which fortunes are accumulated are the result of introducing a series of important innovations in the form of new and better products or more efficient methods of production.
He also does not realize that all that prevents the charitable giving of fortunes from resulting in a reduction in the well-being of consumers and wage earners is their continuing to remain invested rather than being consumed by the recipients of charity. The consumption of the recipients of charity needs to be held within the limits of the income on the capital in order for this destructive outcome to be avoided.
Finally, seizing the fortunes by the government to “save . . . schools, cure disease and alleviate poverty” will accomplish little but the reduction of capital. Schools, books, and all the means of learning are properly the province of private business firms meeting the demand of consumers, just as is the supply of food and clothing. Likewise, curing disease is properly the province of privately owned pharmaceutical firms, hospitals, clinics, and of physicians in private practice. The alleviation of poverty is the daily work of businessmen who introduce the newer and better products and more efficient methods of production: in addition to being the source of fortunes, these last are the source of the rise in the standard of living of everyone. They are what enable almost everyone in the modern world to be well fed, clothed, and housed and to have such goods as indoor plumbing, central heating, refrigerators, stoves, telephones, and television sets.
To the extent that schools, medical care, and poverty represent problems in need of solution, the first step in the solution is removing the government from the picture and allowing the profit motive and the pursuit of happiness to succeed in solving these problems. That is a principle to be remembered on America’s Independence Day.
These pathetic articles are what The Times has to offer on the day dedicated to the celebration of America’s existence. It is an alien publication, dedicated to collectivism and the worship of the State, to principles the opposite of those on which the United States was founded. Over the years, it has been the champion of Stalin, of Mao, and of Castro, and more recently, of the reincarnation of socialism known as environmentalism. One cannot expect it to be the champion of Washington and Jefferson and of the United States. And it certainly is not.
This article is copyright © 2006, by George Reisman. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute it electronically and in print, other than as part of a book and provided that mention of the author’s web site www.capitalism.net is included. (Email notification is requested.) All other rights reserved. George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics.