Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Barone on Rove

Michael Barone thinks that the reason Democrats reacted so loudly to Karl Rove remarks is because he revealed a rift in their party between Democratic politicians and Democratic voters.

One reason that the Democrats are squawking so much about Rove’s attack on "liberals" is that he has put the focus on a fundamental split in the Democratic Party -- a split among its politicians and its voters.

On the one hand, there are those who believe that this is a fundamentally good country and want to see success in Iraq. On the other hand, there are those who believe this is a fundamentally bad country and want more than anything else to see George W. Bush fail.

Discussions - 30 Comments

At this point, I don’t think Iraqis - or Americans for that matter - can take too much more of Bush’s success.

Yea, living under a totalitarian dictator was sooooo much better. Get real. As for Americans, they voted last November and made a choice. If you are upset about it, pick better candidates. Mealy-mouths Liberal snots from the blue NE just don’t cut it...not one of them has won since Kennedy, and he stole the election!

Believe me Dain, most liberals weren’t overly enthusiastic about Kerry. He certainly wasn’t my candidate of choice.

And please don’t talk about people stealing elections 45 years ago when your boy just stole his in ’01.

The term "liberal" is not a proper noun and does not need to be capitalized.

Teach, I have a good sense of humor, but enough’s enough. Say something productive or go away.

Phil, what’s the evidence for your assertion about the ’01 election. Have you ever read Sammon’s "How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election?" Even the newspaper-sponsored faux recounts found Bush to be the winner. Geez, you people create a myth and then hang on for dear life. It really isn’t our fault that your boy started with a decent economy, peace, tranquility, and a very popular administration and STILL lost to a "dumb" guy.

Dain, I would ask you where YOUR evidence is about Kennedy, but I don’t care about your kooky Mayor Daley/teamsters theories because that election happened in 1960 and has very little to do with modern-day politics. Besides, your original point seemed to be that a liberal from MA had no chance of being elected and that Kennedy only won because he stole the election. Whether he did or not, America obviously embraced him like they have done with no president since, even though he was from that bastion of gay-loving, God-hating liberals, Massachusetts. (And I’m not saying that this love was deserved or that I loved him, so PLEASE don’t launch into a huge tirade about all of his short-comings).

And Gore was not my boy, either.

Au contraire, monsieur! I would argue that in fact Reagan was vastly more loved. Kennedy was loved by a segment of the population, and then he was martyred. We love him the way we love Lincoln, but neither was all that popular in their lifetimes. No fair enlisting Lee Harvey Oswald to boost your boy Kennedy’s historical importance or popularity.

If Gore was not your boy, then who did you vote for, pray tell? If you vote for him, he’s your boy, whether you like him or not.

"I would argue that in fact Reagan was vastly more loved."

Yeah, Dain, of course you would.

So....getting back to Barone’s comments, he said:

"On the other hand, there are those who believe this is a fundamentally bad country and want more than anything else to see George W. Bush fail."

This is ridiculous. I know a LOT of Democrats, liberals, and leftists, and I don’t know if I’ve ever heard any of them say that the U.S. is ’fundamentally bad.’ What would that mean, anyway? The American people? The government? Republican governments?? I know some people that have serious issues with capitalism (some want it gone, others would like to tweak it), but that’s hardly a system limited to the U.S. I know a lot of folks who feel that Bush’s policies are bad, and WILL fail, no matter who is wishing or praying otherwise. Blind optimism is pointless. Let’s not forget that even some Republicans are beginning to see the light now. Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel conceded that "Things aren’t getting better; they’re getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality...It’s like they’re just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we’re losing in Iraq." I think far too many folks here at No Left Turns are similarly disconnected.

Well, I’ve known lots of Leftists in my day, and they tend to think of America as a racist, sexist Jesusland that requires state-directed reform. At heart, they tend to be totalitarian and dismissive of anyone who hinders the "true vision." Deny this all you want to, but even Democrat "moderates" are guilty (e.g., Clinton’s apology for the Crusades a few years back...my God, we weren’t even a nation when that happened! Why apologize?). There’s never enough racial justice, never enough economic justice, never enough international justice, and somehow it always gets blamed on white, Christian men, and somehow it always requires power-grabs by the Federal government to correct these terrible situations. If you want examples, I’ve got tons of them.

"Well, I’ve known lots of Leftists in my day, and they tend to think of America as a racist, sexist Jesusland..."

Wait, so America ISN’T that? Just because people on the left say certain aspects of American culture and government are wrong/could be improved DOES NOT mean that we hate America. I actually really like this country and am grateful that I was born here. But that does not mean that I will blindly follow whoever happens to be leading, keeping silent no matter what the President does or says. When I see this country becoming more homophobic, increasingly blurring the line church and state, insisting on teaching "intelligent design," starting an unjust war, etc., I am going to criticize the President at the time all of this is going on.

But again, this doesn’t mean I hate America and pray for Bush to fail. Did all the Clinton haters hope he would fail? Were you praying lots of American pilots would get killed in Kosovo so that it would prove he was wrong about getting involved in that conflict? We’re not saying Bush is dumb because we WANT him to be, we’re saying it because we think he is and we think his policies are bad for this country.

Well, again, what are his specific policies you think are so wrong-headed? How would you conduct the War on Terror (if indeed you would have one)? Assuming you wouldn’t have invaded Iraq, how long could you have kept the lid on that man? How much longer would we have had to quarter troops in Saudi Arabia (which Osama really hates, apparently)? How would you change Bush’s domestic policies...no tax relief, I suppose? Gay marriage? Let’s get more specific, here. I grow weary of generalized criticism. And please, don’t say "we have a plan."

whether or not ALL democrats or liberals believe that America is bad, or look to find fault with it, you certainly can say that a larger portion of them think along those lines then do conservatives. Im not judging here, but certainly you see many of their representatives, ie Durbin, and less ranking ones such as Mckinnety, and a fair amount of others, including, at times, heavy hitters like Kennedy and Pelosi, seem to consistently find fault with the way America conducts itself in war. Now, we can debate whether any of their points have merit or not, but my point is that more often then not, the position on an issue that takes a more negative view of our conduct and military seems to be the Democrat side. Again, they may be right or wrong, depending on the circumstance, but it seems that the issues predictably fall along certain lines when the integrity of the US falls into question, and personally, I am more inclined to give our side’s story creedence than that of some guy picked off a battlefield in Afghanistan claiming abuse.

Dain, I think that it’s only fair that you lay out your Kennedy stole the election theory (without referring to vague recollections of AM radio shows or Ann Coulter’s website) before Mr. Thompson needs to get more specific.

Also, in one of your tirades above about the America-haters, you said that "There’s never enough racial justice, never enough economic justice, never enough international justice, and somehow it always gets blamed on white, Christian men..." Yes, I see your point, and we should really set firm restrictions and limits on justice (Maybe the Kelo v. New London decision will make you feel better!), but - I’m just guessing here based on various comments of yours that I’ve seen here - if black, Hindu women (Republican, of course!) always escape blame, why should you be upset by that?

Erica, you miss my point. "Justice" is often in the eye of the beholder. Liberals use manufactured guilt to extract earned wealth and privilege from one segment of the population to give to another. I don’t think it’s "justice" at all, nor do I think most of the Democratic politician-class believe it is "just." They see it as a bottomless well from which to extract power over the majority of people, the ultimate goal of which is 1) personal power, and 2) refashioning society in their own image (the ultimate narcissism).

I admit that true injustice exists (Kelo, for instance), but many (perhaps most) of the social ills blamed on the "power elite," or "the white man," or "capitalism" are actually created by the choices of so-called victims. Conservatives can be compassionate, but our "welfare" generally takes the form of helping people make the right choices (e.g., marriage over unwed childbirth). And foremost, we reject equality of outcomes...nothing in nature suggests such a thing is possible, and the unequal distribution of things is a crucial engine of progress. Even dumb... liberals should know that!

OK Dain, here a few specific Bush policies/positions/actions that I think are extremely "wrong-headed." 1) Suggesting that "intelligent design" be given equal time/weight as evolution in science classes. 2) Opposition to stem-cell research. 3) Opposition to gay marriage. 4) Starting a war that we didn’t need to fight. 5) Acting as though the war is going wonderfully and should be wrapped up just about any day now, unless it takes 12 years, like Rummy has recently suggested it could. 6) The ridiculous concept that environmental protection regulations can be stripped back because the free market will take care of everything. 7) Getting involved in the Schiavo matter. 8) This last one is not a policy, but it’s worse than all the rest: Bush is clearly, obviously, staggeringly stupid. I don’t want to hear about Kerry’s GPA or whatever lame-o argument you’re going to throw up. When I watch Bush speak, I know I’ve seen that somewhere before... oh yeah, a 7th grader who didn’t do his reading trying to give a report to the class.

Also, Dain, read my ENTIRE post before responding. In my last post, I gave you specific Bush positions that trouble me. Then you start blathering about "growing weary of generalizations." I know you just read the first sentence and get so excited that you have to start spouting off, but try to make it through a whole paragraph, ok buddy?

Oh my, where to start? You clearly think that Bush’s policies are wrong-headed, and this is because he’s stupid (and mean-spirited, perhaps?). First, let me congratulate you on being so stereotypically liberal...whoever sees the world differently than you do is "staggeringly stupid." This is the major reason "red America" keeps handing you people defeats! Keep up the good work!

I’m short on time today, but let me briefly point out where you are wrong:

1) ID doesn’t belong in the classroom, I grant you. On the other hand, an enormous amount of pseudo-scientific bilge under the names of "diversity" and "multiculturalism" is taught in the same classroom WITH the blessings of liberals like yourselves. I see ID as self-defense, nothing more. Perhaps we could agree to keep religion pieties (either Christian or secular) out of the classroom?

2)Bush’s opposition to stem-cell research stems from the fear that unborn children will be treated as commodities by the scientific community. Isn’t it a legitimate government function to enforce morality (i.e., sanctions against murder, theft, and so on)? I dare you to disagree with me on this.

3) Ah, gay marriage...the thing that the people themselves don’t want. You’ve made the fundamental error of thinking of marriage as a personal good...it is not, it is a public good and a social contract, used since time immemorial to regulate the rearing of children, inheritance, and social organization itself. Government has no compelling interest in gay marriage. Glad to argue this with you as well.

4) We didn’t need to finish the job in Iraq? I suggest you read the following commentary by one of the nation’s premier international scholars, Donald Kagan:

Consequences of NOT invading Iraq - Kagan

5) Since Bush and Co. are forever struggling against people like you (who weaken our resolve and hamstring our efforts), this administration’s "Pollyanna" spin shouldn’t surprise you. Stop with the hyperbolic "moveon.org" BS and maybe Bush would come clean. Until then, does he dare?

6) Dude, there’s lots of social science that notes economic development reduces pollution and improves the environment. On the other hand, ever been to Calcutta? Rich people can afford improvements, poor folks can’t. That’s Bush’s point, and some of these regulations (like arsenic in the water) are just plain stupid. Want to argue Kyoto? Anytime.

7) Hmm...Schiavo. Didn’t we cross swords on that one before? Suffice it to say I disagree that it was a "state’s rights" matter or a purely "family matter." I think the circumstances warranted scrutiny and Federal involvement (only because no one else COULD intervene). I’m surprised you are so happy that a young woman was snuffed! Why does the Left take such delight in unwarranted death (e.g., abortion and euthanasia) while despising warranted death (e.g., capital punishment, legal warfare). It’s perplexing.

8) As for Bush, yea...he isn’t a great orator, clearly uncomfortable in the camera’s eye. On the other hand, have you seen him live? Much better. As for being stupid, well...you just keep "misunderestimating" him. I notice he’s been smart enough to kick the Democrat’s asses at every turn...what does that say about you folks?

Oops, that article is by Robert Kagan, not Donald Kagan (a noted neo-con). Mea culpa.

Once again Dain, I think that it’s only fair that you lay out your Kennedy stole the election theory (without referring to vague recollections of AM radio shows or Ann Coulter’s website) before Mr. Thompson needs to get more specific - even though at this point he’s already given you the specifics you asked for.

"’Justice’ is often in the eye of the beholder." ?? Yikes - sounds like moral relativism to me!! And I would suspect that in 95% of the cases (Kelo excepted) you’d be in favor of ideas and policies that make 5% of people shout "Hooray! Justice!!" and the remainder of people saying "Huh???" But apparently, the only eyes that see it with 20/20 clarity are yours. If you want to talk about "earned wealth and privilege" take a quick skim through one of today’s big stories, that Wal-Mart heir John Walton died in a plane crash.

In March, Forbes magazine listed John Walton as No. 11 on its list of the world’s richest people with a net worth of $18.2 billion. He was tied with his younger brother, Jim, one spot behind his older brother, Rob, who is Wal-Mart chairman, and just ahead of his sister, Alice, and his mother, Helen.

Now somehow I think that being the kids (and wife) of Sam Walton - and not the blood, sweat and tears of their own labor, be it physical or mental - had much more to do with all of them being on this list. But then again, as I’ve read in numerous articles today, John Walton would "caulk his own chimney" and he built his own motorcycle, so hey I guess he HAD earned those billions! Yeah, and so has Paris Hilton...

Hey, Erica, you’re in luck. Instead of offering you books to read, just follow the link below to a Washington Post story from 2000. As you will see, few people doubt that voter fraud in Illinois and Texas was substantial...some on the Republican side, but massively (and decisively) on the Democrat side. Can we PROVE without a shadow of a doubt that Kennedy stole the election? No. Is it likely...YES.

Democrat Fraud in 1960

As for the rest of your anecdotal and sarcastic post, let me make a few observations. First, very few of the people who are "Robin Hooded" by the Federal Government are zillionaire heirs. Typically they are two-earner couples who are professionals and have earned both their degrees and their subsequent incomes. Second, inheritance is often the major motivator of billionaire moguls...why should they build empires (and hire people, and create economies...) if the State confiscates everything at death. There is even good sociobiology on this...it’s SCIENCE...surely you libs are open to SCIENCE! Third, just as a matter of practically, we only have two choices in the ownership of capital...the state or private individuals. As Raymond Aron pointed out years ago, combining public ownership of all resources with the state’s complete monopoly on coercion gives you...ta da...THE TOTALITARIAN STATE. I would submit that, even if John Walton was a hateful, selfish man (and I doubt he was), for the sake of our people it is better for individuals to be the receptacle of wealth.

So, listen, you radical-leveling child of Rousseau, swallow the envy and read some John Locke. The government belongs to a population of individuals who are self-owning and not the placid milkcows of the monolithic state. Would you really rather have loathsome bureaucrats inherit the wealth of hard-working Americans?

Couple quick points.

1. No federal funding of any stem-cell research was provided prior to the current President Bush. And there are no legal prohibitions of any stem-cell research now. This hardly seems like he opposes stem-cell research.

2. I wouldn’t be too quick to assume that the Walton wife and kids didn’t work for the money they eventually "inherited"; Sam Walton opened his first retail store about two years after he married Helen Robson. The "family business" grew up with the kids, and I don’t doubt that they were required to put many hours of work into various aspects of the business along with their father and mother. Of course, maybe not; S. Walton could have been some kind of superman...

Luke, you’re out of your skull. Your conjecture that the Walton wife and kids earned (worked for) their inheritance would be absurd on its face, even if you could provide something better than a Wikipedia link, or some sappy quote from a Walton hagiography, to prove it. And why do you abuse the sarcasm quotation marks around the word inheritance? Do you really doubt that the Walton family members met with lawyers upon Sam’s death and signed paperwork that effectively stuffed all of their bank accounts? As the Wiki entry for John T. Walton points out, at the time of his death he was estimated to be worth $18.2 BILLION, and was the 4th richest American and 11th richest person in the world. Keep in mind, also, that he only had one chunk of the Walton fortune; there were also brothers and a sister, and mom, too. Assuming that he started really doing serious labor for his father when he was 12 or 13 (I’ll give Sam the benefit of the doubt that he let his kids have a few years to enjoy childhood), and did so until the time he went to college and then off to Vietnam (hey , that’s much more than can be said for Bushie!), that’s still only 6 or 7 years at the most. I’ll leave it to you to calculate what his hourly wage would have had to been to equal even HALF of his at-death wealth. I won’t ask you to do anything so illusion-shattering as compare that to the wage of today’s average Wal-Mart worker. I think the million or so Wal-Mart employees had a lot more to do with John’s fortunes than his time working for his dad. If John’s fortunes came purely as a result of his rock-solid work ethic, it’s hard to imagine how someone working so hard to rake in billions of dollars could find the time for leisure activities like regularly flying experimental ultralight planes over national parks.

At least father Sam’s rags-to-riches tale is a bit more genuine, but even it doesn’t match pure mythology. Note that his father-in-law loaned him $20,000 - in 1945; that would be, what, at least $70-80K now, surel - for him buy his first store. I don’t have ANY relatives or in-laws who could loan me that kind of scratch, and I don’t know anyone who does, either.

In order to earn the billions they have, yes, Sam and his wife and kids would have ALL had to be supermen (and -woman); but they had just a wee bit of assistance with making their retail empire, the people who actually did MOST of the real WORK. Go all out and call me a Commie if you wish, but the real insanity is believing that all of Sam’s clan WORKED for their billions. That’s a complete disconnect from reality.

Well, Jamie, my response to your diatribe is "so what?" Admittedly Sam Walton’s employees helped him get rich...and he supported them and their families in return. And before you say they didn’t make a "living wage," think of the oxymoron that is. Dead employees obviously didn’t help Walton get rich, so by definition the wages he paid must have been adequate...and, unlike many workers in the old Soviet gulag or in Chinese prisons, these people were not coerced into working for Sam. I repeat my question in #20 above...do you really think this money would be better spent by bureaucrats in Washington?

Another couple of points. First, all these "rich bastards" can’t just sit on their money...the taxes and inflation would eat it up. So, they invest that money and, in so doing, boost the entire capitalist economy. If the State had all the capital it would do the same thing, but far less efficiently and, given the State’s monopoly on coercion, you really wouldn’t have any choice but to obey these bureaucrats. This is preferable? Millions of eastern Europeans beg to disagree!

Finally, you suffer from the diseased thinking of Marx ... all surplus value comes from labor. That’s nonsense. We could take a crew of laborers out to a field and have them dig holes all day...lots of labor expended, but no wealth created. Marx was wrong to dismiss use value, scarcity value, and the value of organization and creative thinking. Old Sam Walton himself, and not his employees, contributed the essential things to becoming wealthy...creativity, logical organization, investment capital, and the willingness to work long hard hours to oversee the whole operation. Our country needs more such men because all your loathsome bureaucrats and Rousseau-spouting academics won’t put a single dollar into anyone else’s pocket! They are only good at picking them.

Dain, here’s the question: Is it the best possible system when you have such overwhelming disparity between the few at the top and the many at the bottom? Did Walton need all of that money? Should our society really just accept that this is how it is and there’s no better way? People working at Wal-mart often have to work two jobs to get by. And no, "getting by," does not mean having big screen televisions and 3 car garages. I offer this disclaimer because I find that conservatives often shriek about how poor people just don’t manage their money wisely- not so easy when credit card companies are constantly making tempting offers and rich celebrities rub their success in others’ faces. But I digress. The point is that most people working at Wal-mart are just trying to get by, and Walton is zooming around in some expensive plane, yet people are making it out to be a big tragedy that he died doing so.

You keep harping on how money isn’t in better hands if it’s given to Washington bureaucrats, but I’m not sure why you see it as having to be one or the other. Couldn’t Wal-mart just pay its employees a bit more? The question is, do the Waltons and the other corporate big shots have to be that rich? Is it ever enough? You say that the extremely wealthy are saving the economy by investing their money, but how exactly does that help a guy working at Wal-mart? How does it actually help that person?

I suppose you’ll respond with rah-rah bootstrap story about how the person working at Wal-mart could be rich too, if he’d just work a little harder and apply himself, but I just don’t think that’s the reality of the situation. It’s not that I’m opposed to people being wealthy, because I’m really not. I just wonder why we have to have such a huge gap, and why we as a society don’t seem more alarmed that this gap is growing.

Tyson, that is a respectful and thoughtful question. I doubt anyone will believe me, but I don’t like these enormous gaps either. Like most Americans, I’m middle class rather than rich. I often find myself resenting the Hell out of the Hummer or the Mercedes driver in front of me (particularly when the lout is on the ^%$&** cell phone!). These are natural feelings, and in an ideal world I doubt such gaps in wealth and income would exist.

Nonetheless, I listen to my head instead of my heart. Hayek, in The Road to Serfdom, makes the compelling case that human beings don’t have the wisdom to command a complex cybernetic system like a market economy, and that our attempts to create "economic justice" only create new injustices for every one they "settle." Moreover, I’ve known a few rich people in my life, and for the most part they work their lives away (and yes, I could give you some anecdotes about Sam Walton...a workaholic). Many surgeons drive around in luxury cars and live in "McMansions," but they work 60 to 80 hours weeks and are on call 24/7. I think most of these status markers (i.e., money and all it can buy) are just recompense for people who serve others, and no one has the wisdom to decide who does and does not have the right to them. Unlike other economic systems, getting rich under capitalism means you served LOTS of people well. Of course there are exceptions (e.g., LAWYERS), but overall people who get rich have earned it...if there children are wise they will stay that way. Many family dynasties go the way of the dinosaur, though.

As bad as we think it is, it is sombering to realize that socioeconomic mobility (i.e., being able to go up and down the status ladder) is highest in America (France has similar mobility, as I recall). I’ve also seen studies demonstrating that Walmart-type jobs are age-related...dominated by young people who go on to better things and older people making a little extra cash. Of course, there are also people who get "stuck," but often that’s because they refuse to follow the economy (insisting on living near kin in a depressed area, for instance). They have that right, but my ancestors (and probably yours) made the decision to move and improve themselves. That’s the American pattern.

Finally, you suffer from the diseased thinking of Marx ... all surplus value comes from labor. That’s nonsense. We could take a crew of laborers out to a field and have them dig holes all day...lots of labor expended, but no wealth created. Marx was wrong to dismiss use value, scarcity value, and the value of organization and creative thinking. Old Sam Walton himself, and not his employees, contributed the essential things to becoming wealthy...creativity, logical organization, investment capital, and the willingness to work long hard hours to oversee the whole operation.

How silly. Plenty of working people who’ve never read one lick of Marx have made keen observations like "Hey, all of us here at the factory/store/office are doing 99% of the actual work that makes this company so successful, but that man/woman who drives the Mercedes and drops by once a week/month/year to inspect things is the one making all of the money and signing our paychecks." If you think the realities of the workplace elucidated by Marx are only noticed by those who read Marx, you’ve led a very sheltered existence.

Your example about workers digging holes makes no sense. Of course, completely pointless, wasted labor creates no surplus value or wealth. But a guy who owns a bunch of shovels, digging equipment and concrete mixers might employ a bunch of laborers (at minimum wage) to dig holes to make swimming pools. Let’s not confuse owning with doing.

Old Sam Walton himself, and not his employees, contributed the essential things to becoming wealthy...creativity, logical organization, investment capital...

Investment capital?? You’ve just brushed aside what the person in comment 22 pointed out, that Walton got his real start in retail with a rather sizeable loan from his father-in-law. Either you really believe that the entire Walton family is a clan of super-humans, or it must be just an amazing coincidence that they’re all billionaires.

As for Walton’s creativity and logical organization, he apparently had plenty of both, but without people actually making the stuff, stocking the shelves, constructing the buildings, driving the trucks, ringing up sales, sweeping the floors, gathering the shopping carts from the parking lot, etc., Walton wouldn’t have gotten very far. These activities aren’t optional for Walton’s business to succeed, they’re essential. And this is a cold, hard reality whether Marx wrote about it or not.

Oh, and how could I forget this:


And before you say they didn’t make a "living wage," think of the oxymoron that is. Dead employees obviously didn’t help Walton get rich, so by definition the wages he paid must have been adequate...

That has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve read in a long time. Just for starters, it’s a straw man fallacy. Those who push for "living wages" aren’t saying that wages below what they consider to be "living wages" will lead to dead employees. It’s use of the word as in "to make a living" - the person had a pulse and was alive before they had their job. Duh. Well, I’ve already given those comments more attention than they warrant, so I’ll just leave it at that...

Jeff...you know, in the last couple of days I’ve been accused of name-calling and the like, but here we see what really happens. I answer a guy politely, and one of you Leftists trashes my post (calling the ideas "dumb" and "silly"). Why should I be more respectful to people who lack common courtesy?

I never said you had to read Marx to have his disease. Indeed, Marx has codified what is a typical human experience...envy and jealousy. As for his labor theory of value, it’s crap. Labor is a lot oil...it’s everywhere, but unless someone organizes a system to bring it out of the ground and use it for something it just sits there. So, the oil has value, but so does the organization that drills it and the organization that uses it (indeed, the last one is what gives it any kind of value...it’s just gunk from the earth until you figure out what it can be used for). Marx set up his labor theory of value in order to claim that "surplus value" (the difference between the upkeep of labor or overhead and the final gross sale) was a form of exploitation. In fact, "profit" is simply the compensation for the entrepreneur’s "labor" (as well as his risk). Ultimately, the labor theory of value is a specious trap that demonizes the very source of wealth...the entrepreneur. If you don’t believe that, then explain why there is so much raw labor power lying around creating NOTHING.

Now, a separable question is, how much should "management" be compensated, and how large a gap should there be between "workers" and "owners?" Every culture has a different answer on this, and NO ONE has an optimal answer. Besides, what’s really going on is emotion...the offended sense of fairplay or just plain envy. The market ultimately determines how much is too much by putting poorly-run companies out of business (like GM perhaps).

Your notion that owning shovels and finding productive work for laborers isn’t the same as "doing" is stupid. It’s called "division of labor" and it is necessary. How simple-minded you are.

As for seed capital, I guess you are arguing that Sam Walton started out rich and that accounts for his success. Dude, people lose $100K in business ventures all the time. Walton’s success was NOT due to seed capital, it was due to his business acumen. Read how Henry Ford got started...people of modest means sometimes get rich, generally through their own efforts.

As for a "living wage," I guess it has no real meaning, does it. Perhaps you mean a "middle class" living? The nice thing about markets is that are many opportunities. If a company like WalMart is cheating its employees of just compensation, they can easily goes elsewhere (and yes, I MEAN JUST THAT...MOVING FROM JOB TO JOB IS AN AMERICAN PASTTIME). The fact is, most of these people have skills that are 1) common, and 2) command no premium wage (the two are related, by the way). Do you have the wisdom to decide how much someone should make, commissar?

Dain said, "Walton’s success was NOT due to seed capital, it was due to his business acumen."

How do you know that? Maybe without that loan from his father-in-law he would have seen a much more limited financial success. If determination were all that’s required to become rich, there’d be a lot more rich people. Not everybody can get a big business loan.

People who have business sense but not much capital (e.g., Henry Ford) start smaller and build their business more slowly. Seen it done, that’s how I know.

Dain - I often find myself resenting the Hell out of the Hummer or the Mercedes driver in front of me (particularly when the lout is on the ^%$&** cell phone!). These are natural feelings, and in an ideal world I doubt such gaps in wealth and income would exist.

I don’t understand why someone such as yourself would even have such feelings. Since the Hummer or Mercedes person has worked hard and earned their reward, why should you resent that??? Maybe part of their hard work is speaking to business associates on their mobile phones??

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