Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Class Warfare

For the first forty years of my life I understood class warfare to be 1) morally wrong and 2) something demagogues did by rousing up poor people to be envious of the rich. I had always experienced "class warfare" in terms of lower classes making attacks on the upper classes, i.e. those same demagogues suggesting that "the people" should use the government to plunder someone else's property just because they had more than the next person. I have now come to see that "class warfare" is being waged both ways, and the middle and working classes don't understand the struggle, are not defending themselves effectively, and are therefore losing. But before I go into that, please allow me to flesh out a little more on the "war on the rich" aspect of class warfare.

Raised with a biblical worldview, I instinctively saw that this view of government (organized plunder of those who have more just because they have more) to be a perversion of the original intent of government to protect God-given rights, including the right of holders of wealth to enjoy what is theirs. Not only does the bible warn against theft and coveting and envy, but it also puts forward the principle that the act of creating gives a creator certain rights over what they have created. Ergo, wealth belongs to those who (honestly) create it, or to whomever they choose to give it. It does not belong to the government for redistribution in a way that the politicians deem to be more "fair".

My father had a great affinity for the Latin culture. He visited Cuba several times before it fell to Castro. He told me the story of a shop keeper who said to him, "I used to look at all the big houses on the hill where all the rich people lived and said to myself 'when the revolution comes I am going to live in one of those big houses.' Instead, he discovered that one of the first things Castro's thugs did after gaining power was to take away his shop! He said, 'I did not realize it at the time, but there was a peddler with a cart looking at my shop and telling himself that once the revolution comes, he would have my shop." The politics of envy will lead us to consume one another. The politicos who get to play "referee" will be the only winners. Wealth creation through service to others will decrease as any rewards for it are seized by the government and distributed as patronage. That will make us all poorer, both in terms of wealth and in terms of the respect we have toward serving others.

The other side of class warfare had not been as obvious to me as some of it was to the left. The complexity of the tax code is a prominent example. The tax code does not have to be complicated, but if it was not, politicians could not trade tax advantages to special interests in exchange for campaign cash. The complexity of the code also favors those who can afford lawyers and accountants to shift income over to forms that are not taxed. Still, the complexity of the tax code favoring the rich does not quite balance out the progressive structure of the tax code favoring the poor. The top 1% of wage earners (about $315,000 a year and up) pay 36% of all income taxes and make about 21% of all income.

The class warfare being waged by the upper class on the middle, working, and lower classes also takes more subtle forms than the tax code. The immigration debate is an excellent example. Here the rich actually fool the left into advocating their position. Consider this next part closely, and then as they say "follow the money": The rich tend to make money by owning the capital part of wealth and expend money on labor to work that capital (so that even more money can be made). The primary way the middle, working, and lower classes make money is to sell their labor to those who have capital they want utilized. It is thus in the interests of the rich to flood the markets with as much labor as possible. This drives down the price of labor. This allows those who make their money through capital to enjoy larger profits at the expense of those who make their money through selling their labor. Because of this, the rich tend to favor H1-B visas, lax immigration policies, are unconcerned about a secure border, and generally are more sympathetic to illegal aliens. Whatever their professed motives, these positions align closely with their economic interests.

As regards to illegal immigration, there are significant costs born on a society that bears too great a load of them (aside from the labor economic distortions). This involves crime, disease, and the disproportionate crowding of public schools and other services, along with a general deterioration in neighborhoods as they are overrun by individuals who may lack the personal habits required to successfully maintain a first-world society. Almost none of these costs are borne by the upper class however. They live in isolated, even gated, communities with their own schools and move in their own circles. All they know is that the costs of having their lawns manicured, their cars repaired, and their garbage picked up have gone down. When their businesses have an opening, they can choose from a dozen or more applicants for each position on the assembly line, so upward pressure on wages in virtually non-existent.

So a good part of the reason for the disconnect between the elites and the rest of the county is that the elites literally cannot see what the problem is. For them there is no problem. For the rest of us, our towns are being turned into third-world mud holes right in front of our eyes even as the earning power of our wages declines. Yet such a proliferation of labor is in the economic self-interest of the owners of capital. It is all too easy for them to rationalize such economic self-interest away as "being merciful". It completely escapes them that in the short run either position is "being merciful", all that changes is the identity of the group that you choose to be merciful to- the law abiding or the illegal aliens. In the long run, only the rule-of-law position is merciful because a breakdown in the law will harm everyone. Eventually, if we ignore too many laws and accept too many people then we cannot provide anyone an escape from a third world society because we will have become one.

In conclusion, though not all understand it, our citizens are divided against one another in class warfare, and our politicians are part of the problem. Please bear in mind that God does want to divide us- but on the basis of good and bad, not rich and poor. Class warfare in either direction is a violation of God's law, wherein He tells us to favor neither the rich nor the poor as well as the part where we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourself. Without the restraint of God's law in our hearts and minds, we face a "lord of the flies" destiny. I once again urge my countrymen to learn and return to God's standards for civil government.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent piece. Like the insight into those who use their capital and those who use their labor.

9:09 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Thank you. I would rather talk about ideas than people, and I like being complemented more than being upbraided. Still, sometimes duty calls.

5:22 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mark, after the revolution, your home will be mine.

5:48 AM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Oh THAT really inspires me to repair the rafters on the porch.

10:25 AM, July 11, 2007  

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