Opinion

Create wealth, don’t redistribute it

Ron Hart Contributor

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.” — Thomas Jefferson

Lost in President Barack Obama’s rhetoric, which presupposes the evils of capitalism and capitalists to sell his statist/socialist agenda, is the fact that free-market capitalism is a far more virtuous and moral system. He made it clear that his plan for America is to “redistribute the wealth” of those who earned it, to those who did not. You can’t get more anti-capitalist than that.

Capitalism did not require $13 trillion borrowed from future generations to advance destructive political agendas and buy votes from the 47 percent of Americans who now pay no federal income tax. If we want to talk about what is “moral” and “just,” what our government has done to us with the deficit alone would make the case.

But wait – there’s more.

To see the abundance our historic free-enterprise system has bestowed on us vis-� -vis the rest of the world, travel to any third-world country with a strong central government and a stranglehold on business. Witness the poverty it spawned.

Businesses hire people, help provide health care and other benefits, pay taxes, advertise, support local charities and build the character of a community. Like most, my Little League team was sponsored by business. The field had signs from the Tennessee Farm Bureau and Union Carbide, examples of those evil villains with the 3.5 percent profit margins that Obama tells us are taking advantage of us and from which he must protect us. Government’s contribution was to make us build a handicap ramp to the field for the person – who did not exist – who would be playing baseball in a wheelchair.

As to the morality of capitalism, I offer a recent example of how clearly and quickly it works. What did Tiger Woods learn from his recent travails? Not just that strippers and porn star mistresses are not trusted confidantes (who knew?), but that there are financial consequences to one’s actions. His sponsors reacted quickly and with impunity to Tiger’s moral lapses. AT&T responded with what I called the most expensive roaming charges ever assessed on a person by dropping its multi-million dollar contract with Tiger. Other companies followed suit. Do you think Tiger cared what Obama or some hypocritical politician, preacher or TV pundit said about him? It was capitalism that spoke loudest and sent the message: conduct matters.

Capitalism benefits, both directly and indirectly, all who operate under its code of enlightened self interest. In contrast to the pretense of altruism that governments use to justify confiscating your wealth without having to understand where it comes from, capitalism guides people to use reason and pragmatism. It exists independently of theories and spin; it rewards risk-taking, imagination, hard work and intellect.

Businesses are compelled to put the best and most viable product on the market at the lowest price possible; if they do not, their competitors will. They cannot produce inferior products or risk selling spoiled food because they know it will be a cost to their reputation and future sales. Reputation is everything for a business, and goodwill is a valued asset since a business cannot blame anyone but itself for the results. They are not like Obama, who blames the Iraq War on George H. W. Bush and our economy on George W. Bush. Should he cut his finger, he would blame it on Rose Bush.

Apple has been so creative and productive that it enjoys a great reputation. People lined up to buy Apple’s most recent product, the I-Pad, before they even knew what it did.

Sadly, Obama and most Washington politicians think we can continue to “spend our way” out of economic trouble. It is sort of like eating your way out of obesity.

Politicians speciously claim the moral high ground over American businesses, but we cannot let them win that false argument. Politicians will say and do anything to get re-elected, kicking problems down the road for future generations. Like the Obama free meal plan at Burger King, you just stand in line, order your food and let the kid behind you pay for it.

Ron Hart is a libertarian op-ed humorist and author who can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com.