Let’s have more Billionaires

I’ve recently come across another missive from Thom Hartmann, that reveals a lack of firm economic grounding. The very title of the article, “Ayn Rand’s Gospel of Selfishness and Billionaire Empowerment is Plaguing America” and it’s subtitle “The United States and other independent governments around the world are crumbling while Ayn Rand’s billionaires are taking over” clearly indicates an emotional appeal. While my own position sides with that of Herman Hoppe, author of “Democracy: The God that Failed”, Hartmann thinks that we all need a governmental parent that is justified in collecting taxes to provide for regulation and social services to the poor and sick.

Oddly, Hartmann begins his missive by portraying some great horror that I actually find both acceptable and potentially desirable.

Ayn Rand’s reviled “state” (or what we would call our democracy, the United States of America) is losing its power to billionaires and transnational corporations.

As far as I’m concerned, those billionaires are mostly rewarded for their role in creating and expanding the transnational corporations that produce the goods and service I rely on. I do business with these corporations on a voluntary basis. They employ people, like Thom Hartmann, that I’d probably hate and dislike if I met them personally. Meanwhile, that sacred government of Hartmann’s steals my wealth with the treat of imprisonment for my non-cooperation, in order to fund endless war and destruction. Not to mention the domestic devastation caused by regulation drafted by politicians without knowledge of industry practice demanded by a similarly ignorant populace and the regulatory capture which stifles competition.

Hartmann’s confused about where goods and services arise.

To our Founding Fathers, looking out for the general welfare of the population was an explici role of the government, one of its most important and the reason this nation was created when we separated from Britain. But to Ayn Rand, a government that taxed billionaires to help pay for healthcare and education for impoverished children was not just unwise economically, it was also immoral.

First, the meaning of the term welfare has radically changed since its inclusion in the Constitution. Not only does that phrase appear only in the preamble, but it was never meant to support the legal monopolization of theft and servitude that the government practices today.

Dickensian street urchins and indentured servitude merely reflect on the historical fact that, historically, the world economy has always been impoverished. The plentiful cornucopia of goods that we have today arises from the careful savings and calculated investment of millions of individuals throughout history. The collective action of each individual trying to make his own life better by serving others with what they desire, leads to prosperity and wealth. The confiscation of this wealth for political causes (oh, think of the children!) represents a gross misallocation of scarce resources. The forcible reallocation of wealth from private hands, through government, and into healthcare and (state-sanctioned forms of) education is immoral. This policy treats the wealth creators as serfs, and the labor of doctors and teachers as that of slaves.

Thom also inserts a logical inconsistency into Rand’s ideas.

According to Ayn Rand, the rich can never be asked to sacrifice. So instead, it’s working people across the Eurozone who have to pay for the bad investments that the banksters made in the run-up to the global financial collapse.

In truth, Rand was a staunch opponent of government subsidy. Not just because social safety nets degrade their recipients selfworth, but because capitalism doesn’t function without allowance of failure. Rand’s policy doesn’t save the corporations by bailing them out, Hartmann’s does. As much as I might disagree with Hartmann’s underlying motivations, the same logic that compels him to support the creation of governmental safety nets also compels him to accept the socialization of losses that arise from political policies containing moral hazard. Unlike Hartmann, Rand recognizes the underlying logic of Hartmann’s position. Her work, even in fiction, precisely outline the results of governmentally sponsored looting in the name of social welfare.

In a stunning display of partially applied logic, Hartmann supports the idea of national sovereignty, but not individual sovereignty. Especially not the independence of those with wealth.

We’ve seen the rapid privatization of our commons, the further erosion of social safety nets, and more losses of national sovereignty with more so-called free trade agreements.

She [Rand] may have realized that American Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower were right when they made sure that wealth was more evenly distributed and the Billionaire Class was held in check.

If a country should be sovereign, and unregulated in it dealings with other countries, why cannot individuals behave similarly?

And finally, near the end of the confused, historical mythology, Hartmann reveals his government provided education for its true worth.

Or she may have come to understand that corporations and billionaires owe their wealth to the state and not the other way around. Without favorable patent and copyright laws, a court system, an educated workforce, and an infrastructure to move goods about the country, then no one would be able to get rich in America. We’d be like the Libertarian paradise of Somalia.

Patents and copyright are government sponsored monopolies which should be eradicated. Courts can be replaced with private arbitration, which already handle 90% of legal disputes. The need for educated workers does not imply the creation of a state-run system of indoctrination. Infrastructure is actually built by private construction companies with money stolen from private individuals and companies. The government has merely imposed itself as an inefficient middle-man in that process.

Only a government-provided system of indoctrination could ever lead people like Hartmann to so vociferously maintain that government is an absolute necessary for achieving those goals which we all value. It’s enough that I, and everyone really, value education and the roads that we use. None of the items that Hartmann points at require governmental force for their creation.
We each recognize the benefits of cooperation enough that we will (and do) voluntarily build and maintain that which we value.

So deep is Hartmann’s statist belife, that he even points out the immorality of the state, in its usurpation as a benefactor necessary for our life and liberty, without realizing he does so.

As Harry Moser, the founder of the Reshoring Initiative, argued in The Economist, “Corporations are not created by the shareholders or the management. Rather they are created by the state. They are granted important privileges by the state (limited liability, eternal life, etc). They are granted these privileges because the state expects them to do something beneficial for the society that makes the grant. They may well provide benefits to other societies, but their main purpose is to provide benefits to the societies (not to the shareholders, not to management, but to the societies) that create them.”

Sadly, this understanding of how democratic republics work – and why – has been lost this generation.

And Ayn Rand’s disciples are making sure the next generation never finds it again.

Let’s hope that the free market, guided by billionaires who have proven themselves successful as wealth managers on a voluntary basis where the government has failed and resorted to theft and coercion, can subvert the state and bring us together. I fully support their devious weapon of creating many transnational organizations that produce goods and services in response to the many diverse consumer and investment demands of individuals throughout the world. I will gladly and voluntarily exchange the wealth I keep from not paying taxes to a warmongering state on the products resulting from this transnational, market-based, cooperation.