Fending Off the Egalitarian Impulses of the Socialist State

That, of course, is the rub for President Obama. On the one hand, he needs to tax heavily in order to generate the revenue for his ambitious domestic agenda. On the other hand, excessive taxation will most likely result in more disappointing revenue projections than he anticipated, since the wealthy will be less productive than they were in a low tax environment

That socialism cannot work is the inevitable conclusion of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead and the historical experience of the twentieth century. If excellence isn’t the goal of personal achievement, conformity or mediocrity reigns. If wealth isn’t a reward for success, poverty reigns. And if success is a sin, failure is a virtue.

Yet, despite this reality, socialism is a persistent idea. My suspicion is that socialism is related to the belief that most people think they can be free-riders; they can get something for nothing by taking from the rich. But this Robin Hood psychology is, in fact, a form of theft. It subtracts from the fruits of one’s labor and, without apologies, contends arbitrarily that some people simply have too much.

Alas, socialism condemns “too much” and ends up giving too little. What it offers is an ideal, an abstraction of equality that is intoxicating. But its destructive influence inexorably becomes apparent. Why be productive if others produce for you? And why would you oppose high taxes if these revenues offer “free assistance”? As Hayak noted the Road To Serfdom is littered with promises of the golden age, a time when the government provides all that you need.

President Gerald Ford put this matter in perspective when he noted “that a government that can give you everything you want will be large enough to take everything you have.” It’s too bad President Obama doesn’t read history.