“Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.”
The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.Emphasis mine.
This is what "progressives" do not understand. Wealth does not cause social conditions. Wealth is an effect of social conditions.
Don't believe me?
Dump a million dollars on Egypt, and dump a million dollars on Utah, and see what each culture does with the money. Are you seriously willing to argue that in ten years Egypt will have turned that million dollars into a larger pile of wealth than Utah? Really?
How much foreign aid have we squandered on various totalitarian hell-holes around the world? What have we gotten for that "investment?" How much money have we spent on the "war on poverty?" Is there less or more poverty than there was when we started? (Hint: more. Go look it up.)
It's not the money. It's how you get it that differentiates "good money" from "bad money." Bad money is generally obtained by pointing a gun at someone else. This is how dictators and much of the current Democrat leadership believe money is obtained. They believe in the "zero sum game." They believe in "getting a bigger piece of the pie." They might give lip service to "making the pie bigger" but deep in their hearts, they really don't believe it--if they do believe it, they sure don't act like they do.
Good money is created (or "earned") by providing somebody else with some good or service that somebody else wants at a price that somebody else is willing to pay. This is the "classical liberal" belief, and it fueled the greatest expansion of wealth to the greatest number of people the world has ever seen.
Yes, Virginia, it really is that simple.
But, despite this dazzling success of the classical liberal economics of Ricardo and Smith and von Mises and Hayek and Friedman, we today face once more what seems to be the fundamental conflict of mankind's nature: the tension between those who believe wealth can only be obtained by force, and those who believe wealth must be earned by mutually beneficial trade.
This conflict has been clearly illustrated by the recent unpleasantness in Madison, Wisconsin.
So, which side are you on?
The fist, the club, and the gun, or the handshake, the contract, and the trade? The time for choosing is very, very near.