Quite a while back now, I was having a political discussion with a brilliant atheist and humanist liberal who is a good friend of mine. Attempting to explain why conservative middle class people oppose liberal “soak the rich” policies he made an argument that I had heard before. He said, “middle class people only vote against liberal economic policies because they have been brought up with the ‘American Dream’ that they will one day be rich and they don’t want to tax their dream out of existence. If only they would recognize that their economic interest lay with liberal economic policies, they would get out of the way and we would have truly progressive economic policies.”
I don’t remember how I responded to this argument, but I have been reminded of it as I have watched recent political advertisements released by Conservative candidate Stephen Harper and Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau concerning Monday’s election here in Canada. Because I think Justin Trudeau will do a great deal of economic damage to my chosen homeland, I decided to write a short piece in defence of Stephen Harper in the faint hope that it could help avert a catastrophe. This didn’t work when I tried to argue against re-electing George Bush in 2004 before I moved to Canada, but one has to try.
The man pictured above is a man that I do not like. His name is Kevin O’leary and he is a businessman who has had a great deal of success. On television, he comes across as a dragon in keeping with the title of his television show “The Dragon’s Den”. The question that I want to ask about this man is, “Is society better off with him or without him?” Despite the fact that I do not care for Mr. O’leary’s television persona, I have to say that society is better off with men like him even if he is as much of a dragon as he seems. Going beyond that, I will say that his contribution to our collective economic well-being is certainly greater than my own and that of most of the liberals who will vote for Justin Trudeau on Monday. Why is this true and why does it matter?
Generating beneficial economic activity is not easy. In fact, it is very hard and this is the reason why every single attempt at a centrally planned economy has failed catastrophically. While “Keynesian” economist used to mock the idea that “Lazy fairies” would do all the work of planning an economy in free market capitalism, the truth is that free market capitalism has a very real army of hard-working and intelligent people who take a “hands on” approach to the real problems of providing beneficial goods and services. These are men and women like Kevin O’leary who work hard and use their considerable organizational skills, problem solving skills and motivational skills to build the enormous and complex machinery that constitute a vibrant economy one small piece at a time. They utilize their considerable talents and the talents of others to break an overwhelmingly complex problem into millions of bite-sized chunks. When these people are fully engaged in the business of making themselves rich, they employ others and provide goods and services that enrich the lives of everyone in society.
Progressive economic liberal policies, on the other hand, rely on a small group of government “policy wonks” to solve all the problems of society. These people make emotional appeals to “caring” voters to “help” middle class citizens through government programs by imposing heavy taxes on men like Kevin O’leary. In doing this, they demonstrate that they don’t understand that the “1%” are the dynamos that drive a successful economy. They further ignore the fact that bureaucratic inefficiencies make helping the middle class with government programs a lot like bailing out a canoe with a strainer. (Even many private charitable organizations only get 50 cents on the dollar to those in need. Imagine how bad the government is.) Because they ignore these two basic realities, their programs inevitably result in lower economic growth and higher unemployment.
The only way these “liberal policies” can even appear to be successful is by borrowing tens of billions of dollars from future generations in order to enrich today’s middle class. For this reason, when Justin Trudeau says that he wants to “soak the rich” the ones who will really pay for his policies are Canada’s younger generation who will battle high unemployment, high taxes and high inflation for the rest of their lives.
What middle class conservatives who vote against liberal economic policies understand which my friend did not understand is that the hard-working entrepeurial class serves a vital function in society. Like Kevin O’leary or not, you have to give him and those like him their due. Their status-conscious drive to be more successful than other people gives them the motivation to use their skills and intelligence to benefit everyone. Allow these people to work their hardest to make a lot of money while lightly policing them to prevent them from taking financial or environmental shortcuts and you will have a vibrant economy. Tax them so that they are not motivated to perform their vital societal role or, worse, regulate them to the point where they cannot perform it and you will damage the economy and impoverish everyone.
Please vote for Stephen Harper.