The Key to More Economic Equality
The key principle overlooked by most radical egalitarians can be easily summed up by a pair of fables. So without further ado:
The First Fable:
Once upon a time, there was a kingdom, whose king and nobles supported the privileges of landowners at the expense of landless laborers. Life was hard in the cities, and workers struggled to afford enough bread. Eventually, the king was overthrown, and the king and many of the nobles were killed or exiled. The cry of “Liberty!” was shouted throughout the land. Alas, there was turmoil as the new leaders tried to change things too fast, and food prices stayed high.
So in their lack of wisdom, the new leaders decreed that bread should have a lower price so that the workers could afford it. Shortages arose, as the incentives and resources to produce more bread were reduced. The leaders accused the farmers of hoarding, and many farmers were beheaded. Hunger continued. Dead farmers are not very productive.
The Second Fable
In another land, the government chose to favor the small farming class. Tracts of land were granted on the frontier for below market prices. Peasants from across the sea came to this country to take advantage of these offers and farms sprang up across the wilderness. Then, intrepid inventors came up with clever machines to make planting and harvesting easier, and machines to make it cheaper to transport the food to the cities. All these things helped the farmers – for a while. Then, food prices dropped as farming became too easy, and there was more food than the people in the cities wanted to eat.
In the midst of an economic slump, the government moved in to help the farmers. Great quantities of food were bought and destroyed. Farmers were paid not to farm. Insurance programs were set up to give farmers money during years of bad weather. Food exports were subsidized. The poor were given vouchers so they could by more expensive food. These things did raise food prices a bit and provided great subsidies to the large corporate farms, but the small farmers they meant to subsidize still went out of business because the economies of scale of farming had grown so large.
The Moral of the Stories
The first fable reflects what happened during the French Revolution. Similar events happened in most Marxist revolutions and are still happening in much of the Third World. The result is generally hunger.
The second fable reflects what happened in the United States, and is now happening in many of the richer countries of the world.
The moral is: persecuting farmers is not the way to have lower food prices, nor is it the way to make farm income lower than other forms of income. Making it easier to farm and increasing the amount of food is the effective way to lower food prices and reduce farm income. The second parable also lists ways in which governments try to undo the effects of an abundance of food.
Now, let us replace “farmer” with “rich person” and apply this reasoning. Attempts to persecute rich people produce shortages of what rich people produce, resulting in economic calamity.
In order to reduce the income of the rich, the key is to produce a superabundance of what the rich produce, so the rich can charge less. Part of the way to produce this superabundance is to be on the lookout for government programs that try to reduce this abundance in order to keep the price up.
Repeat the above paragraph in your mind several times until it sinks in. It is the key for a workable egalitarian society. It can be applied in a surprising number of areas of law and society. All we have to know is what is it that the rich produce, and then either increase the supply or decrease the demand. And that is the subject of the next page.