Enlightened ramblings of a minarchist libertarian with Objectivist tendencies

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A Glimpse Into the Mind of a Madman

It has long been argued by Socialists that the moral reasoning behind the forced extraction of wealth from producers is the altruistic redistribution of that wealth for the greater good. Indeed, just over a month ago, Hillary Clinton was heard to utter the phrase "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." This has long been the mantra of those desiring control over members of society that are more talented and successful than themselves.

However, it seems that these old dogs are learning a new trick, or at least a variation on an old one. Apparently taking note of the fact that those producing wealth were not just readily emptying their pockets and dismayed that Socialists have been unable to convince the general public to join in their class jihad, Professor Barry Schwartz of Swarthmore College has put forth a new approach to enslaving those with wealth. He is telling them that reducing their wealth by 90% will make them happier.

OK...now that you have had a chance to stop laughing, let's take a look at just what he is proposing. It's not hard to guess, after all, he is a Socialist. You got it, he suggests that we should ignore the objective facts and instead rely on feelings:

In cases like these, increased choice often enables people to do better by some objective measure--say, better healthcare outcomes. But it also makes them feel worse, perhaps badly enough to overwhelm the initial improvement in welfare.

Now this is a new approach because rather than directly attacking the wealth itself as evil, he declares that the increased choice offered by the wealth leads to decreased satisfaction on the part of the wealth bearer. What is his justification for this statement?

Psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper have shown that as the number of flavors of jam or varieties of chocolate available to shoppers is increased, the likelihood that they will leave the store without buying any jam goes up.

People are apparently not mentally equipped to deal with excessive choice, therefore it is imperative that the government come to the rescue of those poor miserable rich bastards and relieve them of the burden of wealth in order to save them from the mental anguish of too many decisions. I guess we are required to just ignore the fact that it was precisely the ability to make decisions that was responsible for many of these people's wealth.

Unfortunately for Dr. Schwartz and his crack team, they have not yet been able to determine the exact income level at which excessive choice occurs and besides, it is just too much work to take away all the choices available to consumers. At least he can rest soundly on the moral absolute that he can help people by taking most of their money and choices away, even if he can't yet figure out how to implement his plans.

(via Anger Management)


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