Tag: wealth

Income Inequality Is Increasing and the Poor Are Benefiting

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In 2017, the top 1% of Americans earned a record amount of money. That year, the average income of someone in the 99th percentile was a whopping $492,311. As a result, income inequality has come into the fray as a major point of discussion in recent years. Specifically, Bernie Sanders has focused on it heavily, arguing that the divide is too great. Many others disagree. One fact, however, complicates the income inequality debate: as the rich are getting richer, so are the poor.

Continue reading “Income Inequality Is Increasing and the Poor Are Benefiting”

Advertisements

Are American Libertarians Inherently Consequentialists?

Atilla Sulker | United States

At the superficial level, libertarianism is split into two main camps regarding a moral doctrine. There is the old Aristotelian natural law tradition, sometimes referred to as deontological libertarianism, which draws some of the most passionate libertarians, including the likes of Ron Paul, Andrew Napolitano, Murray Rothbard, and Ayn Rand. And there is the consequentialist (often called utilitarianism) approach to libertarianism, advocated by many pillars of libertarianism including, Ludwig Von Mises, Milton Friedman, and David Friedman. The former group believes that libertarianism is valid because initiating force in any way is morally wrong. The latter on the other hand supports libertarianism simply because, in their minds, it leads to the greatest prosperity.

But the adherence to any form of libertarianism in America makes for a perplexing phenomenon. America has the greatest total wealth in the world and is the hallmark of the great machine that is capitalism. Surely there is some amount of freedom in America, despite the squabbles of libertarians. If not, the great works of entrepreneurial enterprise and competition would not be present to provide the average American with such goods as cars and electric ovens, products once classified as “luxury goods”.

Yet at the same time, the State tramples on the liberties of its citizens every minute. Wiretaps are initiated whenever the president feels like doing so. The state drafts young men to fight in territories unknown to them, showing how frugal its citizens are in its menacing eyes. Bureaucrats interfere with progressive efforts espoused by communities to take back control of their schools. Mandatory minimums tear apart families and lead to the mass incarceration of individuals who are supposedly detriments to society. Regardless of how you assess this claim from a moral standpoint, the argument could be strongly made that government in this day in age has become a far greater detriment to society than any drug lord.

Despite the mass regulations enforced by the state, the great bulwark of capitalism cannot be stymied. Sure, competition is slowly dying off and the Fed creates a false illusion of the growth of prosperity. But despite the destruction created by the Keynesian saga, prosperity still thrives to a much greater extent in America than most other nations around the world, further validating the extent of the notion that entrepreneurship drives the improvement in the material quality of our lives. Indeed the machine of entrepreneurship is far more powerful than the government. The great technological revolution of the late 20th century shows how the hindrances established by the government could not stop the glorious consequences of a market economy.

Now here’s a head-scratcher. Does an increase in the quality of goods in the market due to competition in the private sector necessarily signify an increase in liberty? Does a vibrant capitalist economy necessarily fall in line with a free world? Quite obviously not, as our country represents a good case study of this seemingly paradoxical phenomenon. But only superficially does it occur to be perplexing, for going beyond the layer of gloss shows that the situation is not that complicated.

A larger amount of wealth simply means a larger amount of capital for the state to exploit in its nefarious affairs. It means government simply has more wealth to steal and hence more wealth to fund the welfare-warfare state. This is evident with such tragedies as the growth of the military industrial complex and the bureaucratization of education. Lew Rockwell sums up this phenomenon:

In reality, the State is far more dangerous in a productive, capitalist society than it is in an impoverished, socialized society, simply because it has far more private resources to pillage and loot for the State’s own benefit. Availing itself of the vast fruits of private production, the State engages in self-aggrandizement, expansion, and, inevitably, imperialism.”

In retrospect, we see that much of the past imperialist adventures were supported through the exploiting of private capital, e.g. FDR’s redirecting of resources to support World War Two, or the rapid proliferation of nuclear arms during the Cold War. Indeed a capitalist economy could well be a catalyst for the expansion of the state. And more importantly, a desensitized public needs to be conditioned to express obedience. Think of the state as a block of sodium and the capitalist economy and obedience as a tub of water. Without the water, the sodium remains stable, but when put in the water, it becomes volatile. This is how the state works, it works parasitically- the more blood there is to suck, the bigger it becomes.

Comparing the United States to a garden variety third world country, we discover something interesting. While the former professes to be the beacon of the free world, it is so bloated and volatile that it tramples on the liberties of its people daily. The latter advertises itself as a monstrous entity that will drop the guillotine on any dissenters but is often so poor that it can’t actually enforce these codes.

Regardless of what a country’s government may proclaim itself to be, whether a slaughterer of masses or a liberator of worlds, to truly judge how free it is, we must focus on the actual situation of the country, i.e., the effectiveness of its means in realizing its desired ends.

Economic historian Robert Higgs adheres to this view, and used it to make a case for leaving the United States in search of another country. In a speech he gave, Higgs said:

If I were in your position, I would consider seriously getting out of this country, not because I think any other country is a paradise by the way. But because I think no other country has the means (emphasis added) that the government of this country has to carry out these horrifying surveillance programs, and other measures of state tyranny. So, I’m going to move. I’d suggest you might consider moving somewhere else.”

Higgs himself moved to Mexico in October of 2015.

So if one proclaims himself to be a natural rights libertarian, wouldn’t he be contradicting this assertion if he continues living in the United States? Natural rights libertarians are defenders of liberty even if it leads to economically inefficient outcomes. It would then follow that if they truly hold this to be true if they are truly the bleeding heart natural rights supporter that they claim to be, they would move to another country that does not have the means to enforce such control as our own.

I don’t believe that any libertarian can be classified as fully of the natural rights tradition or fully a consequentialist. Surely a consequentialist would become inclined to believe in some sort of natural rights if the government began to kill members of his family. He wouldn’t oppose it only on the grounds that it disturbs order and leads to disutility.

Now certain issues may invoke a more natural rights based defense. Such issues may include abortion and the defense of the second amendment. It would be hard not to be rooted in the natural law tradition to an extent, yet be an ardent supporter of the second amendment or the right to life.

Based on the actions of libertarians here in America however, on the economic front, the consequentialist doctrine trumps any belief that they may have in natural rights, not fully, but to an extent that libertarians have decided to stay here rather than follow the Higgsian vision. It would be foolish to try and sit here and say that we would defend liberty even if it didn’t lead to economically sound outcomes, yet live in a country in which the means to the destruction of liberty are far greater than most any other country in the world.

It is clear that we enjoy the fruits of entrepreneurship and capitalism as present in this country. For the American libertarian, the loss of this great prosperity in exchange for a more free lifestyle is not a convincing trade-off. Let’s face it, we all enjoy the constant new innovations in technology, in medicine, etc. We wouldn’t be willing to give up our cellular devices or our polio-free bodies in exchange for a more libertarian way of going about our lives.

America can be seen as a coin, having a free side to it, and an unfree side. As Lew Rockwell explains:By way of illustration, in the US today, we have two economies, one free and one unfree. The free one has given us the great abundance of consumer goods, the widest distribution of wealth, and the fastest pace of technological innovation known in the history of man. The unfree one—characterized by the two trillion dollar federal budget and the more than one-quarter of that spent on apparatus that builds and administers weapons of mass destruction—has produced what we have been reading about in the headlines for the last two months. Military Socialism, which exists by pillaging the free economy, is responsible for a brutal and immoral war on a civilian population halfway around the world—the destruction of hospitals, churches, nursing homes, residential neighborhoods, and town squares.”

So yes, it is the prosperity in the capitalist economy that keeps us here in this country. It is the reason why we enjoy the economic freedom present in this country. The atrocities committed by our government won’t drive us away, but the market economy keeps us latched. It thus follows that the American libertarian is inherently, to an extent, a consequentialist.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon.

Featured Image Source

The Libertarian Case for a Minimum Wage Hike

Nate Galt | United States

The federal minimum wage has been a controversial issue ever since it was introduced by President Roosevelt in 1938. Proponents of raising it say that it will help job growth and reduce poverty. However, opponents believe that raising the federal minimum wage will lead to layoffs and closures of small businesses. In all, the current federal minimum wage of seven dollars and twenty-five cents per hour is not a wage that someone can afford basic necessities with. People who are paid the federal minimum wage should be able to afford things such as clothes, food, and a roof over their head.  Raising the minimum wage has been an issue adopted by “progressive” Democrats and the Green Party. 

Taxpayers are paying for the minimum wage, just indirectly. They subsidize programs such as Food Stamps while large corporations save money by not paying their workers a living wage. This is extreme inequality because that money should go to workers employed by these corporations, not into the pockets of billionaires who try to cut corners by paying their workers very low wages. 

Raising the minimum wage would help the economy. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour would make $22.1 billion flow into the economy and would create about 85,000 new jobs in three years. Further, economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago made a prediction that if the minimum wage were to rise by $1.75, household spending would increase by $48 billion in the next year.  While these are merely predictions and are imperfect, they show that household spending increases as the minimum wage is raised. This boosts the gross domestic product and spurs job growth. For example, in Snohomish County in Washington State, there were no local minimum wages higher than the state minimum of $9.47. The state then raised the minimum wage to eleven dollars per hour. The full weight of the $1.53 increase, or over 16%, was assumed by employers. Subsequently, sixteen thousand jobs were created in Snohomish County. 

Some people say that raising the minimum wage hurts small businesses. According to Think Progress, two-thirds of “low‐wage workers are not employed by small businesses, but rather by large corporations…” Also, the three largest employers of minimum wage workers are Walmart, Yum! Brands (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC), and McDonald’s. A hike in the minimum wage will not make large corporations like Walmart shut their doors, and its workers will benefit from it. 

Another reason the minimum wage should be raised is that it is impossible to afford rent in every state if one is paid $7.25. The state with the lowest “living wage” is South Dakota at just over 14 dollars, which is nearly double the current federal minimum wage. The definition of “living wage” is the bare minimum salary one needs to be able to afford rent, basic clothing, and groceries without skipping meals or receiving aid from the federal government. People who work full-time and are paid the minimum wage cannot provide basic necessities for themselves and their family, let alone afford to pay rent. Right now, this is the case, and millions of Americans are in a dire financial situation because they live on around only fifteen thousand dollars per year if they work full time. These people receive benefits which are subsidized by taxpayers because their employers do not pay them an adequate wage. As a result, businesses are saving money while taxpayers have to pick up the burden. If people get a living wage, they do not need to rely on taxpayer-funded public assistance. Better pay would let the government cut a lot of taxpayers’ funding of the money that it currently spends on programs to help counter poverty.

Others say that if the current minimum wage were increased, the price of items would increase. However, researchers at Purdue University found that increasing the wages of fast food workers to $15 an hour would only result in a price increase of around 4 percent. 4 percent of the cost of a Big Mac is around 23 cents, which is not a significant amount of money. The workers will have their wages doubled and will be able to make ends meet. Despite the negligible increase in prices, workers would end up with more money in their pockets and would be affected positively by this positively.

Increasing the minimum wage to 15 dollars would benefit the economy. It helps boost the GDP and job growth, and it alleviates taxpayers’ burden of paying for welfare. $15 per hour will allow minimum wage workers to make ends meet and to afford housing, clothing, and food without having to rely on government programs such as food stamps. It would reduce the number of Americans living in poverty as well. All of the above benefits have no significant drawbacks, so the only logical thing to do is to support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour to help workers, the economy, and your tax rate. Should businesses get so-called “corporate welfare” while taxpayers have to foot the bill? Even though raising the minimum wage seems like a leftist, Bernie Sanders-type policy, all libertarians should support it. Taxes, welfare, and other benefits would be cut, leaving more money in Americans’ pockets. 


Get awesome merchandise. Help 71 Republic end the media oligarchy. Donate today to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source

Envy is Evil, not the Desire for Wealth

Thomas Calabro | United States

The desire for money is often viewed with disdain by those who believe in a more altruistic approach. They believe themselves to be noble in their morals, and while that may be so, they usually believe in using more government controls to enforce their altruism. They intend to enforce desired actions to reach certain end goals, either with tighter controls of small fines, regulations on how something is made, or with the complete seizure of the means of production. These end goals usually look to end or reduce inequality of income and distribution of resources, and their morals are seen as enough reason for action.

When talking about capitalism, one must see how greediness for money energizes most of the system in an efficient way. The greedy strive for profits push businesses to create and distribute products where it is demanded by their customers. While there are some organizations whose main goals are to give back rather than making money, the desire for wealth ultimately allows scarce resources to be allocated appropriately with very little to no waste. This approach, while rooted in individual self-interest proves far better at not only distributing the resources where necessary but helps create jobs, raise wages and increase the standard of living.

But why is such a system of economic freedom and prosperity, as well as it’s drive to make profits seen as horrific to one group, but not the other? Perhaps it is that many libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and objectivists do not see the desire for money as the issue. Rather they see the desire for someone else’s earnings as the true face of evil: envy.

Before we begin talking about envy, we must first define what envy is, as well as any misconceptions that may create confusion. Envy can be defined as the “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. However, many in the libertarian camp see this approach as an issue when the government is used as a force to obtain the fruits of other’s labor.

One could make the argument that envy is what drives entrepreneurs to maximize profits in a free market system, those who use voluntary exchange are not only supplying market demand but also working hard to create wealth.

While we may consider ourselves in a free market where hard work can create profits, we have many controls in our government that stifle economic growth for many people. The most prevalent of which is the war on drugs, which perpetuates a cycle of poverty towards the victims of those policies of mass incarceration. Any government controls that prevent profitable innovations should be removed.

A paper from the Cato Institute’s Brink Lindsey recognizes 4 areas of interest: copyright and patents, occupational licensing, land use restrictions, and restrictions on immigration, as being subjected to “regressive regulations” and government controls that hinder income equality, as well as the free market. These deregulations can help the US to continue to be a melting pot of ideas and innovations that create jobs, raise wages, increase the standard of living, but also reduce inequality and combat the envious urges to take from hard-working Americans.


Get awesome merchandise. Help 71 Republic end the media oligarchy. Donate today to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source

Wealth Creates More Privilege than Race

Nate Galt | United States

Much of the current political discussion surrounds the controversial topic of privilege – many believe that the white race has more privileges than people of color do, and others believe that straight people are better off in society than homosexuals. While those categories may make one privileged at a certain place and time, there is no bigger privilege than wealth. Wealth, universally, gives someone opportunities and offers them more possibilities. If they happen to be a billionaire who is a transgender, lesbian, African-American woman, they are infinitely more privileged than a heterosexual white homeless man. The privilege of wealth trumps any other supposed notion of privilege. 

“White privilege” is a term used by those who label themselves “progressive” or as a crusader for “social justice”, to say that white people have many privileges that non-whites do not have. This phrase can also be combined with “male privilege,” “straight privilege,” or “cisgender privilege.” A popular talking point in their circles is that statistically, being white reduces your risk of being shot by a police officer and being male reduces your chances of being raped. While these statistics are certainly true, minimizing those chances does not indicate privilege. Special programs that encourage gender and racial diversity in the classroom and in the workplace have been created. One such program, Affirmative Action, decreases the chances of a white man getting accepted into college. Men are approximately three times more likely to be homeless than women are, and are at a higher risk of committing suicide. One group is not more privileged than another; each group has its own hardships.

A notable “progressive” description of white privilege appeared as a musical skit on the A.B.C. channel on Australian television. The segment depicts two people trying to cross a stream. One person, who is said to be a straight white man who speaks English and was born in a peaceful nation, waits with a woman who the writers say cannot speak English, has dark skin, and is a refugee. The segment shows the methods that each person uses to cross the rapid. The writers say that since the white man is inherently privileged because of the color of his skin, he uses teleportation to get across. The skit then shows the woman swimming across the stream and then getting sick. The lyrics of the segment say that because she is female, cannot speak English in an English-speaking country, and has brown skin, she has to swim across the stream. As a result, she catches a cold. This description of privilege could be no further from the truth. The justification for the man using teleportation is that he has certain privilege that the woman does not. Not all heterosexual white men have privileges that darker-skinned refugee women do not. The deciding factor of who has or does not have privilege is wealth and/or material possessions. LeBron James, a multimillionaire African-American legendary basketball player, has many more doors open for him than an impoverished white man. Even if James were to become transgender and subsequently come out as a homosexual, he would still have privilege that the aforementioned poor white man would not. 

Phrases such as “white privilege” are extremely divisive rhetoric.  Implying that someone is privileged because of their sex, sexual orientation, or the color of their skin will divide people into several distinct groups at odds with each other. Instead of uniting one another and saying that no matter who we are, we are fellow Americans, some keep pushing identity politics. Our country is already divided into two distinct camps as a result of the congressional duopoly of Democrats and Republicans. Dividing the United States of America any further could cause an inseparable rift. 

Political discourse must move away from “white privilege” or any other category which is not based on wealth. The wealthy, no matter their skin color or their gender, are incredibly more privileged than a poor person of any race. Every group has their hardships that society should work to fix. We, as a community, should combat these struggles together. Preaching identity politics in the name of fighting nonexistent “white privilege” will only drive us farther apart. 


Get awesome merchandise. Help 71 Republic end the media oligarchy. Donate today to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source