Written by Winter Trabex.
Ludvig Von Mises once wrote:
Inequality of wealth and incomes is the cause of the masses’ well-being, not the cause of anybody’s distress. Where there is a “lower degree of inequality,” there is necessarily a lower standard of living of the masses.
This argument should be sufficient to disprove the idea that rich people having great wealth is a bad thing. The idea that the wealth of the wealthy should be confiscated most often derives from a sense of avarice and envy. Those who don’t have wealth, but wish to have it, beat the inequality drum in order to begin confiscation. Wherever there is a cry of income inequality, there will also be someone licking their chops at the money they hope to obtain. Such money cannot been earned. That a rich person might have obtained their wealth through illegitimate means, as is the case with every government worker in the world, does not make legitimate an effort to confiscate wealth. The standard of living that Mises talked about is not increased when money is taken, often by force, from a person who has it; that process is not an exchange for mutual benefit. Society does not benefit by means of wealth redistribution. Every socialist country that has ever existed proves this point, from Denmark to North Korea to China to the Soviet Union to Hitler’s Germany.
Rather than addressing the obvious fact that some people are very rich while other people are very poor, it ought to be asked what causes poor people to be poor. Other than the draining, soul-crushing (if unseen) effect that business regulation has upon the individual, everyone nevertheless has the same opportunity to make something of their lives, if they want to. For this, a high minimum wage is not required. Rather, in order to create wealth, a person must be willing to live slightly below their means. The financially comfortable factory worker who spends his money unwisely soon discovers that he has no capital to move to a different town, or buy a new vehicle, or even a new television. The most common denominator for every poor person is a deleterious decision making process. Those who find themselves homeless after massive layoffs rarely think about the opportunities they may have had to put money away against the very calamity that afflicts them. For this reason, aside from all the socialist rhetoric which fills up today’s intellectual atmosphere, poor people know one indisputable fact: somewhere along the way, a wrong turn was taken.
Most often, a wrong turn involves sexual relations that result in children. In America, as in many countries, children do not earn money for themselves. They incur a litany of expenses so long that it often takes more than one person to provide for a single child. Rather than thinking about whether they can afford a child or not, poor people just have sex. Indeed, poverty and large families are strongly correlated. The opposite is also true: those who have successful careers don’t have as many children. Accordingly, the best way to control the world’s population is to encourage personal initiative and enterprise.
For poor people with more than one child, the situation appears to be impossible. Rather than saving up money for themselves, they have to keep putting money towards their children. When they are unable to do so, they become separated from their children on the basis of neglect. This further exacerbates the problem; a lack of resources leads to an unwillingness to take care of the children, which in turn leads to deadbeat dads and single moms. A deadbeat dad is a person who refuses to take responsibility for his own behavior. He instead pushes his obligations off on to someone else because he wants to keep the money he earns.
But, even supposing that one does not have any family members to support, there are common threads of ignorance, indolence, and a high sensitivity to slights among poor people. The reason why impoverished persons shout and yell at each other stems from a lack of self-esteem. In this case, low self-esteem results from not making the right choices, or choosing to live off of others instead of living for oneself. Both of these behavior patterns result from not knowing enough and not being willing enough. The belief that money defines one’s own value as a human being is so prevalent among both poor people (who hate themselves for being poor) and rich people (whose self-esteem is boosted by the size of their bank account) that it must be asked why people don’t make more of an effort to overcome their circumstances, rather than letting their circumstances overcome them.
The problem lies with the characteristics that define a resilient person. These include awareness and a locus of self-control. Both of these traits are lacking among the poor. They are often not aware of the situations around them; this leads to inconsiderate, inappropriate behavior. They feel as though they have no control over their lives; it is consequently easier to rely on a third party for their income and sustenance. Those who get caught up in the shelter system for homeless people feel as though they don’t have any say in what happens in their lives. They have no control over their destinies. It may even be that they come to believe they are incapable of gaining control through self-sufficiency. Even while they hear from all sides that they need to get a job, they take their time doing so, if at all. Is it possible to keep a steady job when the belief in one’s own competence is lacking? The answer is most often a resounding no.
As a result, it becomes clear that in spite of all the people who say otherwise, money really can buy happiness. Money can buy self-esteem. It can buy a sense of accomplishment. It can buy items such as fans, heaters, and microwaves that add to a person’s comfort. Through comfort comes happiness. The only choice that remains is whether a person wishes to use their money to buy happiness or whether they will continue to think of themselves in negative, damaging ways.
Having said all of this, it is not my claim that a person can turn themselves around overnight, or when they see their first paycheck. Rather, money can provide the means to eliminate several stressors that would otherwise provoke frustration and anger. An elimination of poverty would necessarily mean an elimination of dependence on others to survive. This can only be done on an individual basis. No government program, no subsidy, no central plan can do for a person what they can do for themselves. Rather, despite all the platitudes that demagogues in public office rain down upon the public, welfare keeps people poor. It enriches no one save for those few administrators benefiting through bribes and graft.
In order to be truly happy, one must be independent. Thus, it may be said that a free world is a happy world. A dependent world is an unhappy world. The choice to go on welfare or seek employment is the single most important factor for whether a person enjoys all this life has to offer or whether they remain stuck where they are, frustrated and irritable. Between the two, employment is infinitely more preferable. Self-employment, the epitome of independence, is more preferable still.
Freedom, happiness, and personal wealth are all tied together. Losing one can mean a loss of all.
If you enjoyed this article, you can follow more of Winter on Liberty.me and check out her new book The Substance of Liberty: Freedom in an Unfree World. Please consider sending a BTC tip to Winter at: 1ACwZKrUPbZ5XWB3jEuTAsi8SrgeZftbxx