August 3, 2006

Sneaking Apples From the Great Wealth Tree

Hatched by Dafydd

My v-e-r-y f-i-r-s-t entry into the world of blogging, courtesy a surprise invitation from blogger extraordinaire Patterico to help him out by posting something "interesting" on his site while he was on holiday. Fortunately for Patterico, he also invited other bloggers with a somewhat tighter grip on reality....

This post first appeared on May 27th, 2005, with about as much anticipation and (frustrated letdown on the part of readers) as the last North Korean missile launch.


Hello, and welcome to words from the Lizard’s Tongue. My name is Dafydd ab Hugh, and I’m one of the guest bloggers who will be tormenting you until Patterico returns.

I am not a blogger in the strictest sense. I am guilty of publishing fiction, but I’m still (still!) working on my web site, which will contain a blog. And articles, columns, movie reviews, fiction, two partners in crime (Brad Linaweaver and my wife Sachiko), and bilingual contributions (English and Japanese), a streaming internet radio show, and, and.... well, “good enough is enemy of the best,” I always say.

Because I’m only a guest here, I will mostly not blog about current events; there is plenty of that. When my own blog is up (when the best gives way and lets good enough have a clean shot), I will write about issues both eternal and temporal. But for now, I will focus on metablogging about more fundamental issues; and to make things easy, I’ll hide most of my posts behind the magic “more” button.

Fundamental issues -- such as the topic at hand: stealing apples from the Great Wealth Tree.

The greatest economic divide is not between rich and poor; it’s between those who believe that only the creators of wealth have the right to distribute it, and those who believe that wealth is intrinsically part of “the commons,” and that everybody has at least some stake in deciding how it is spent, even those who had nothing to do with making it. We can roughly label these two philosophies capitalism and socialism.

Most people believe a mix of the two, but that’s not my point. I want to peek behind the impulse towards socialism (however weak or distilled) to the fundamental worldview it requires.

The base claim socialism relies upon is “fairness”: it isn’t fair, they say, that some are so rich while others are mired in poverty. But this makes no sense if you believe that people create their own wealth; if you build a house, few would claim as a matter of principle that you have to let everyone else live in it. The only way the “fairness” argument works is if socialists believe that wealth is a natural resource.

But more than just that. After all, oil is a natural resource; but it requires intelligence and effort to extract it from the ground: crude oil is not created, but oil-in-the-barrel is. The “fairness” doctrine requires you to believe not only that wealth is a natural resource, it’s one that simply falls like manna from heaven equally upon the just and unjust alike.

Socialists must believe that each person is born with a Great Wealth Tree. Each man or woman can reach up and pluck wealth-apples from his Wealth Tree. And each Wealth Tree is the same size -- otherwise wealth disparity could still be a natural phenomenon unrelated to human endeavor, and as fruitless to correct as it would be to pass laws to equalize everyone’s height, weight, and IQ (cf. “Harrison Bergeron,” by intelligent socialist Kurt Vonnegut, jr.)

So if each person has his own Great Wealth Tree, and if every Wealth Tree is the same size... then why is there a disparity in wealth between people and nations? Simple: according to the only worldview that can support socialism, if one person has a bigger pile of wealth-apples than his neighbors -- he must be leaning over and plucking apples from his neighbor’s tree.

And at last, we understand why socialists consider all the rich to be “robber barons” and demand re-distribution of wealth “from each according to his ability to each according to his need”: because they can’t believe that intelligent gardening can grow a bigger Wealth Tree, and the only way one man gets rich is by sneaking his neighbor’s apples. This crabapple view of the world is the logical root of all socialist ideas.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 3, 2006, at the time of 2:40 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Jauhara Al-Kafirah

Daffyd, I wonder if you aren't really Ed Longaberger, whose Japanese wife is also named Sachiko...I had a cute neko once'd, named Sachiko. So are ya?

The above hissed in response by: Jauhara Al-Kafirah [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 3, 2006 4:48 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Jauhara Al-Kafirah:

No. Sachiko is about as common a name among Japanese women as Susan is among American women. I've never heard of "Ed Longaberger;" my name is as cited on the "who are we" page.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 3, 2006 9:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: rightonq

Dafydd, maybe I am taking this too seriously, but I get the analogy and I find it interesting. I'm as capitalist as they come, but I don't see it exactly in that way.

I see the socialist point of view as more of that of the mother hen that sees all of these victims as being placed in a situation for which they cannot possibly be expected to have a fair shot. In other words, everyone could and should have the same wealth tree if only they were on a level playing field instead of the wrotten hand they were dealt (being black, being born to a crummy set of parents, having a laziness gene, or whatever).

I think your analogy starts with an assumption that everyone has an equal chance at the same outcome when in fact the socialist would say that we don't start on a level playing field and it's up to the "lucky ones" to "take care of" the unlucky victims.

Am I missing something or is my power of analogy just a lost cause?

The above hissed in response by: rightonq [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 4, 2006 1:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Am I missing something or is my power of analogy just a lost cause?


Every analogy is a crude approximation designed to highlight an aspect of the referent. You're just highlighting different aspects than I. Neither analogy is "more correct" than the other.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 4, 2006 3:52 PM

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