Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Are you rich?

From the desk of Jane Galt, at Asymmetrical Information, comes the question: “what do you mean by rich?”
By the standards of, say, 1920, every single one of us, even welfare mothers, is rich. Every single one of us has enough food that we never need to go to bed with our stomachs crying out to be filled. Every single one of us has running water--running hot water--and bathtubs and indoor toilets to put the water into. We have stoves that do not need to be carefully tended to keep the fire going. We have central heat. We have cars or public transportation to take us wherever we want to go for a trivial sum. Almost every poor person in America has a color television, offering free entertainment 24 hours a day, and most of them can afford to buy cable to go along with it. We are so wealthy that even a welfare mother can afford to let her children stay in school until they graduate--indeed, so wealthy that a once-ubiquitous dramatic scene, the child vowing to drop out of school in order to help the family out, has entirely dropped out of the literary canon. The average middle class man of 1920 would have regarded all but the most hopelessly drug addled or mentally ill street people as wealthy beyond dreams of avarice.
Biannually, roughly one half of the electorate “pulls the lever” for the candidate that purports to represent “the little guy”, despite a priori evidence to the contrary. The irony is that the free market capitalist system, that is so often defamed, is responsible for the relative comfort that is currently enjoyed by the “less fortunate”. This is in spite of efforts to diminish its effects via decades of incremental socialistic policies.

Color me cynical, but I can’t help but assume that, for some, net wealth, material possessions, creature comforts and so forth, pale in comparison to the elusive grandeur of “equality”. What else could it be? When pejorative terms such as: greedy, selfish, heartless…libertarian…are essentially the coin of the realm in a time of such unparalleled prosperity, can those who propagate such pap be taken seriously?

If anything, the Great Society has crippled the nuclear family. Surely no rational individual can deny the fact that the majority of those receiving “public assistance” are not well served by that government crutch. I would argue that, when faced with the prospect of consequences, human nature tends toward survival. This natural urge is compromised when the extent of self-preservation entails cashing a government check and/or conceiving more children out of wedlock.