Sharing the Wealth in a Planned Economy

I got some new material from Air America today. Folks were calling in to the host stating how taxes were “good” (or at least not bad) as they paid for civilization or other such nonsense. They were waxing eloquently on the benefits of taxation and all the “good things” it has done. They were talking about “sharing the wealth”—perhaps “praying” is a better word.

One guy called in and talked about the Scandinavian countries where you paid 48% tax but didn’t have to pay for garbage pick-up or many of life’s other irritations. He also stated that the minimum wage was 18 dollars an hour—and the Guilder exchange rate was essentially one to one against the dollar.  When you got paid, most of your (remaining) income was disposable. (I suspect the caller did not know that our poor live better than most of the middle class in those countries. Most do not have cars or own their own homes. They do not eat as well as us and depending upon how you define it, their medical care is not as good.  Their economies are basket cases, and they are “rethinking” their governmental philosophy. I suspect that the caller also did not know that the Guilder is extinct—it was replaced by the Euro. Also, according to Frommers, a quick midday meal can cost $7.50—$15.00 (US). At ten bucks for a sandwich, I suspect one isn’t going to live very high on $18/hr. One can stay in a 6th floor walk-up garret for $340/wk.  The 3-star hotels are around EUR 115 ($93) for a double room.

I guess it’s a wonderful thing to be able to have all your needs provided for you and not have to EARN them. I suspect it’s a case of “Let the SUCKERS work.” Or, as one pony-tailed male said at a Kerry “Town Hall” Meeting: “Senator Kerry, we are your CHILDREN. We want you to take care of us.” I guess it is convenient to have your necessities provided to you (like a child) and to receive them whether or not you work and earn them. The host seemed to also think this was a “good idea.”

As one Air America host said, “I think people have a RIGHT to a free house, food, clothing, and medical care.”  I believe it would be “nice” if this host took a course in Philosophy. Perhaps she would realize that her wish is the desire of a loser—someone who believes they cannot provide for themselves, so begs others to provide it for them. It is the plea of a beggar or a parasite if applied to herself; and an arrogant, egotistical, self-important fool if applied to others. It states, “I am so much better that others, I can take care of myself AND it is necessary for me to take care of the others who CANNOT take care of themselves.” (White man’s burden??)  The very definition of “slavery” implies that a person is a slave if he works for others with no right to compensation. Hence, if I am compelled to work to supply a home (or food or medical care) for someone who does not pay me in some fashion, then I am his slave. Yet if you asked this host if she believed in “slavery,” she would be offended and insulted. I suspect it is called “doublethink” or ignorance. Perhaps in lieu of a course in Philosophy, this host should take a trip through a neighborhood where homes were “given” to people and not earned. If she does so, I suggest she use an armored car—or a tank.

I wonder how the caller and host would react if I were to show up at their door one day and forcibly take their food budget for the year from them. Then I would provide them with a year’s supply of (dried) food. The food would consist of an “appropriate” mixture of broccoli, cabbage, squash, sauerkraut, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, beans, corn, rice, ten pounds of beef, ten pounds of pork, thirty pounds of chicken, eighty pounds of fish, etc. For liquid, I would provide water. If they complained, I would lecture them on the value of “healthy eating” and how because of the waste in their past practices, many other people were starving; how it was their DUTY to help feed the poor. If they complained about the amount of food, I would counsel them on how it was healthy to be thin.  I would apologize that no health foods or organic foods are available and explain that they are just too labor intensive. I would also tell them that there was barely enough meat, wine, coffee, tea, and organic food for the program administrators.

If they continued to complain, I would inform them as to how they were much better off than other planned economies. For instance, in Cuba, their “free” State supplied food would be per family member: Beans 4 oz per week, Rice 5 lbs. per week, Fish 2 lbs. per week, Meat none n/a, Sugar 4 lbs. per month, Milk none n/a. Food is scarce and very limited to all Cubans and provided by the government in the form of rations to the people. Each citizen has to go to a town ration distribution place, no matter of their profession, status, etc. within society. This process of distribution means long waiting lines for all Cubans. Such is MUCH BETTER than the planned economy/free food of North Korea, where according to a UN study, “crop failures” have caused such a drastic cut in daily rations in 2003 that North Korean households have to rely on alternative ways of getting food including rearing livestock, growing kitchen gardens and collecting wild foods like edible grasses, acorns, tree bark and sea algae.

Once they accepted the idea that I was only looking out for their best interests, I would take their clothing budget and supply them with clothing for the year. Since I would be doing this for everyone, I would achieve great economies of scale and could produce identical clothes for everyone. By utilizing tunics, robes, and smocks, I could produce very few sizes and supply everyone with clothes quite reasonably. Sandals would replace shoes, and I could mass-produce many items at little cost. As such, I could supply everyone with clothes. I would even have enough resources left over to produce special clothing for the program administrators.

I would come back a month later and inform the caller (and host) that it would be necessary for them to diminish their usage of electricity. In order for the government to pay for the electricity, it would be necessary for them to conserve so that EVERYONE could have 300 kilowatt hours of electricity a month. Consequently, I would be putting a monitor on their meter so that they could not use more than the designated amount. The supply would be shut off after 300 kilowatt-hours until the end of the month when it would be reset. I would tell them how healthful cold food was; how cooking food destroys the vitamins and minerals. I would inform them how the program administrators were sacrificing and giving up THEIR meters because there were not enough meters for everyone.

In September, I would return to put a limiter on their heater so that the temperature never got higher than 65 degrees. As everyone is (or should be) aware, there IS a shortage of natural gas. Burning wood in a fireplace would not be permitted in order to save the trees and assist with the air pollution problem. I would tell them how healthful cold showers were. As with the electricity monitors—not enough limiters for the program administrators, much to their sorrow.

If I find out that they are considering purchasing a vehicle, I would return and take the money they had saved and supply them with a Yugo. If they complained, I would have to educate them on the value of saving gasoline, and how it was necessary for them to economize so that OTHERS could also have a vehicle. If they continued to complain, I would retract the offer of a Yugo and replace it with a motor scooter. Such would serve as an example to other greedy citizens. In order that they not get the wrong impression, I would explain to them as I leave that program administrators do so much driving as part of their job that they must be comfortable in order to always be at peak efficiency—and that’s why I have a SUV.

Once the principals of “sharing” and “common good” had been firmly established, I would again visit my new found friends. I would inform them that too much gasoline was being wasted in commuting to work. It would be necessary for them to move closer to their jobs. (If they have one—if not, I would just have to find them one and demand they work there—else no food.) Also, since there were only two people living together, they would be supplied with a rather nice two-bedroom apartment close to their workplace. Their three-bedroom, two-bath home would be given to a nice needy family with three kids. They would be instructed to leave their SUV (the one they owned and had kept previous to obtaining the scooter) since the new family would need it, but they could take their motor scooter with them. Also, considering the neighborhood to which they would be moving, the government would supply them with a taser and pepper spray. They need not worry once they were inside—the metal door has triple locks. I would assure them that when my sister moved into their home, she would take very good care of it.

After my new friends became ensconced in their new home, I would visit them with instructions on how to access their new doctor(s). I would notify them that they would not be going to their old doctor, since he was so far away and it is necessary to conserve gasoline. I would inform them that they were assigned to the clinic a block away where some nice young newly graduated doctors were practicing. (Before the doctor shortage, these doctors would have been classified as “interns.”) The older, more experienced doctors (those that had not left the country) were working in other neighborhoods where they were needed more—for example, in MY neighborhood. I would tell them of the benefits of EVERYONE having access to medical care—not just the chosen few.  I would lecture them on the sin of “greed” and wanting the best for themselves while others went wanting; and the joy of “sharing” with others.  I would tell them that they are fortunate in that their clinic only has a two-month waiting period. It was achieved by not treating emergencies. All emergencies should be scheduled two months in advance.

I would further inform them of one of the great benefits of their new home—free garbage service. I would educate them on how to use the new system. Since we compost, food waste must be separated out and put in a separate can. Since we recycle, aluminum cans must also be separated out. Metal cans must also be separated—as must newspaper. Bottles must be washed clean and placed in a separate container, as must plastic containers. All other garbage must be placed together in a separate container. As such, you must put out seven cans each week. Each can is a different color to reflect its contents. Garbage pick up is between 6.00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Cans must be placed at the street corner 100 feet north (not in front of the home) each Saturday after 5 a.m. and must be removed before 7.00 a.m. Each can costs $50, and no other type of can may be used. Failure to comply with either separating the refuse or timeliness of placing the cans or neglecting to put the cans out or using the wrong color can for contents or using an improper can is a $50.00 fine for each occurrence. We recommend having several backup cans since if one gets lost, stolen, or damaged, it will take three weeks to replace it. During that time, you will incur a fine for each week you fail to comply with the requirements. It is necessary to set these rules as it is quite expensive to provide free garbage service, and costs must be curtailed where possible.

If you ACT like a child that must be “taken care of,” you will be TREATED like a child that must be “taken care of.”

Tony Demaio

September 24, 2009

The Daily Reckoning