Here’s a great post from Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek on the nature of wealth and politics.
In it, he criticizes the all too typical, and wrong, view that wealth is a fixed pie and why the concern that the wealthy use their wealth for political influence is a good marker for someone who seems oblivious to root cause thinking.
Here’s a snippet on the second point:
…Mr. Reich fails to connect the dots by complaining that the rich spend more and more of their wealth in the political arena. What else to expect when that arena becomes ever more central to Americans’ daily lives and, simultaneously, becomes ever more crowded with redistribution-mongers (such as Mr. Reich) whose squeals to soak the rich grow louder and harsher?
Folks like Mr. Reich think that the solution to their perceived problem of politically powerful wealthy is a more powerful government. But, a more powerful government just raises the stakes for the wealthy to use that power to their advantage.
In other words, without a powerful government, the wealthy could not be politically powerful. The problem is not the wealthy gaining political influence. The problem is that with a powerful government there will always be unsavory characters seeking to gain that power for their own good.
Think about the plot line of every movie that has an object with immense powers. There’s always a fight between multiple groups, good and bad, to get the object so they can use its power to their advantage.
The problem in Reich’s thinking is that he cannot fathom a limited power government. He wants a powerful government, but he just wants to somehow (through even more power for the government) restrict the holders of its powers to people who think like him.
He doesn’t realize that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more power we bestow on the government, the more likely there will be unsavory people seeking to control that power.