Saturday, April 26, 2003

Consumers vs. Producers

Thomas Sowell is one of the best:

Overcoming adversity is one of our great desires and one of our great sources of pride. But it is something that our anointed deep thinkers strive to eliminate from our lives, through everything from grade inflation to the welfare state.

The anointed want to eliminate stress, challenge, striving, and competition. They want the necessities of life to be supplied as "rights" -- which is to say, at the taxpayers expense, without anyone's being forced to work for those necessities, except of course the taxpayers.

Nothing is to be earned. "Self-esteem" is to be dispensed to the children as largess from the teacher. Adults are to have their medical care and other necessities dispensed as largess from the government. People are to be mixed and matched by race and sex and whatever else the anointed want to take into account, in order to present whatever kind of picture the anointed think should be presented.

This is a vision of human beings as livestock to be fed by the government and herded and tended by the anointed. All the things that make us human beings are to be removed from our lives and we are to live as denatured creatures controlled and directed by our betters.

Those things that help human beings be independent and self-reliant -- whether automobiles, guns, the free market, or vouchers -- provoke instant hostility from the anointed.

* * *

The welfare state is not really about the welfare of the masses. It is about the egos of the elites.

One of the most dangerous things about the welfare state is that it breaks the connection between what people have produced and what they consume, at least in many people's minds. For the society as a whole, that connection remains as fixed as ever, but the welfare state makes it possible for individuals to think of money or goods as just arbitrary dispensations.

This is the philosophy which most federal bureaucracies—such as the Federal Trade Commission—operate under. The FTC believes consumers possess unlimited rights to demand from producers, while producers enjoy not even basic property or liberty rights. In almost every FTC case, the producer is found to "injure" consumers by taking actions to raise prices or reduce output. The fact that the producer is engaging in wholly voluntary trade is irrelevant to the FTC. If a consumer is inconvenienced or unhappy, the FTC immediately accuses the producer of committing a crime, regardless of the facts (or the law.)

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