Judging from the number of Facebook “likes,” this is the best column I’ve ever written. It seems libertarians are more excited about someone trying to take their money, than about the finer points of capital theory. An excerpt:
Warren is right: there is a widespread view that really wealthy people are very fortunate — that they have been blessed. And that’s precisely why so many wealthy people give very large amounts of their fortunes to charitable causes. Warren simply asserts that the government should be the recipient of this understandable urge for the wealthy to share.
Besides philanthropy, another social practice is that parents take care of their children. Then, when the children become adults, they in turn take care of their offspring. This is exactly what Warren has in mind with her talk of “pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” That’s exactly what society expects of people, and that’s what most of us do. Here again, we see Warren injecting the government into the mix, without any justification.
The final major principled problem with Warren’s position is that the government gives the rich little choice in accepting the alleged benefits of its activities. It’s not as if a factory has a choice between getting products via government highways or privately run highways. And CEOs in Boise — who don’t think they are at serious risk of an al Qaeda attack — don’t have the option of rejecting the US government’s “helpful” foreign policy with its tremendous price tag.
To see just how absurd Warren’s view is, imagine a Soviet-era party official chastising workers who thought they had labored long enough in a Siberian work camp: “You ungrateful wretches! Don’t you realize that the bread your wives wait in line three hours for comes from the government? There is a social contract here, where we give you food and shelter, while you give us work and respect.”