On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. announced that he would teach his daughter Chloe about socialism by taking away half of her candy and giving it to a child who did not go Trick-or-Treating. This suggestion that socialism is unfair triggered many prominent celebrities, however, who instantly attacked Trump Jr. — and capitalism — has hateful.
“I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism,” Trump Jr. tweeted. He included a cute picture of his daughter dressed as a police officer with a half-empty bucket of candy and a confused look on her face.
I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism. pic.twitter.com/3ie9C0jv2G
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 31, 2017
This “redistribution of wealth” theme is a popular illustration of socialism on the Right, as it is a quick and easy way to explain how unjust it is for the government to seize hard-earned wealth and distribute it to those who never worked.
Here’s Stephen Crowder illustrating the principle.
Naturally, celebrities didn’t exactly see it that way.
Comedian Ricky Gervais suggested Trump Jr. wouldn’t do that to his daughter — because it would be a good thing. “Calm down everyone. He’s only joking,” Gervais tweeted. “He’d never really teach her that sharing is a good thing.”
Calm down everyone. He's only joking.
He'd never really teach her that sharing is a good thing. https://t.co/RE6HsgnhCK
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 1, 2017
In tweeting this, Gervais has totally missed the point. Yes, sharing is a good thing — but government-mandated sharing has no moral value. In fact, if the government seizes something of yours to give it to someone else, a bystander might use a different word than “sharing” to describe that.
J.K. Rowling, author of the popular Harry Potter series, took a different approach. “Fill her bucket with old candy left by her great-grandfather, then explain that she has more because she’s smarter than all the other kids,” Rowling tweeted. (Naturally, anything coming from the woman who attacked Piers Morgan for refusing to compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler should be taken with a grain of salt.)
Fill her bucket with old candy left by her great-grandfather, then explain that she has more because she's smarter than all the other kids. https://t.co/0lbhHYyFe4
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) November 1, 2017
Donald Trump did indeed inherit a great deal of wealth, but Rowling’s suggestion seems to be that capitalism is about preserving privilege, rather than rewarding hard work. This is not the case — in fact, the larger government becomes, the more it entrenches big companies and well-connected elites at the expense of competition and creative destruction.
Anyone familiar with the chaos in Venezuela would recall that those who suffer most in a big government system are the entrepreneurs trying to make their way in the world through business, who get shut down by the government in the name of “equality.”
One user on Twitter had a different take, seemingly ignorant of the devastating effects of big government in the 20th century. “My man, ‘socialism’ was her getting that free candy in the first place. You taking half for reasons she can’t understand is capitalism,” the user tweeted, to 7,000 “retweets.”
While Chloe did not “earn” that candy in the sense of working hard to make money and then paying for it out of her pocket, she did earn it (in a sense) by walking house to house and asking for it. No child is fully self-sufficient, and teaching lessons of self-reliance is difficult when kids cannot work for themselves.
But Halloween ironically provides an opportunity to teach children that the more you work (going out and asking for candy, showing initiative), the more you will receive (a more full bag — or in this case a more stuffed bucket — of candy). Trump Jr. and Stephen Crowder were just using this example to make a basic economic principle more concrete.
To be fair, the U.S. tax system already imposes higher income taxes on those who make more money. The government is already so large and complex that the cronyism associated with socialism has already become part of America’s economic system. Big companies do already benefit from complex regulations that help prevent meaningful competition.
The answer to such a system isn’t more socialism — that would only fuel the problem and create more entrenched elites. The answer is smaller government, more freedom, and lower and simpler taxes and regulations.
Trump Jr.’s lesson about socialism is extremely important, because it provides a concrete example of why America needs to return to the economic vision of limited government.