Senate candidate and Harvard prof Elizabeth Warren is winning kudos on the left for her passionate defense of collectivization:
For those who can’t watch clips online, Warren, after explaining some of the reasons for the nation’s deep fiscal hole, pointed to a more sensible approach to economic policy in general. “I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever,’” she said. “No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.
“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
We stand on the shoulders of giants - no kidding. Ms. Warren is very convincing that those darn rich people ought to be paying some taxes. But wait! They already are!
As to how her argument explains why a factory owner ought to be paying even more taxes, well, I don't know. And to relate it to a hedge-fund hero who could re-incorporate in an off shore tax haven? Forget it. However, there is an annotated response to her posted at InstaPundit highlighting the abusrdity of some of her claims. For example, if union thugs shut down the factor, Ms. Warren would cheer, not send the police.
But I have a problem with her premise, that all your work are belong to us. "We" educated the workers? Even the home-schooled ones? The private-school and Catholic school grads?
"We" built the roads? A factory can be located anywhere in the world. If the numbers for transportation and access to workers make sense, it will be built in Malaysia. If a property is near a good US transportation hub, it may be more valuable, and the land rent will be higher. If the factory owner chooses to pay that higher rent in the US, well, Ms. Warren should be railing at the land-owner. Who of course is subject to property taxes.
And even if "we" did these things, so what? Let's go back to the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
I suppose We the People could yet choose to fullfill Obama's college fantasies and organize as a Euro-style socialist state. But in a land of freedom and opportunity, one might argue (Ms. Warren would not, apparently) that people's freedom comes from God, not Ms. Warren. They are getting educated for their own benefit, not because the government needs taxpayers. They then go forth into the world with their skills to (brace yourself, Ms. Warren) earn a living. If the factory owner offers an unappealing wage, people won't work there; if the product is undesirable, it won't be purchased. Free exchange by free people. The belief (Hope? Faith-based initiative?) is that this optimizes aggregate social well-being, subject to some sort of safety net for those who can't keep up. Obviously, the level of that safety net is a matter of debate.
Well. The social contract debate gets very normative and prescriptive. Ms. Warren's sense of compassion gives her lots of guidance about how the factory owner should organize his operation and compensate his workers, but she has never actually run a factory. And if the factory owner closes down his operation in the States and re-opens next week in Thailand rather than endure Ms. Warren's wacky sense of fairness and appropriate regulation, well, she will express her suprise and advocate for extended unemployment benefits for the workers she meant to help.
IN WHICH I CHANNEL MS. WARREN ON SPORTS IN ORDER TO DELIVER THE OBLIGATORY SPORTS METAPHOR:
FANTASY WARREN: Is A-Rod worth $30 million a year? He didn't invent baseball. And if we moved the fences back to 800 feet he would never hit a home run. So why is he paid anything at all?
FANTASY ME: Good point! And if we moved the fences to 800 feet and made the players hit golf balls off of tees, the Red Sox could quit paying John Lackey to "pitch". Ok, occasional infielders would be struck dead by golf balls, but maybe that would increase fan interest.