Thursday, April 30, 2015

Which would buy us more practical equality? A trillion dollars spent on innovation or a trillion dollars redistributed by the state?

Matt Ridley knows the answer:

For those on the left, innovation is a great demolisher of inequality. A century ago, you had to be very rich to own a car or your own home, to have more than three pairs of shoes, to have a spare bedroom, to buy on credit, to have indoor plumbing, to eat chicken regularly, to have a library of books, to be able to watch great acting or great music regularly, to travel abroad. Today all those things are routine for people on modest incomes thanks to the invention of container shipping, fertiliser, better financial services, cheap materials, machine tools, automation, the internet, television, budget airlines and so on.
It’s true that the very rich can now afford a few more things that are beyond the reach of those on modest incomes, but they are mostly luxuries: private planes, grouse moors, tables in the very best restaurants. We would like those on low incomes to have access to better medicines, better schooling, cheaper homes and lower energy bills, and in each case the technology exists to provide these: it’s mainly government policies that get in the way.
Technology is the great equaliser: today some of the poorest African peasants have mobile phones that work as well as Warren Buffett’s — at least for voice calls. In the 1940s, Joseph Schumpeter said that the point of commerce consists “not in providing more silk stocking for queens, but in bringing them within reach of factory girls”.
It was not planning, trade unions, public spending, welfare or tax that made the poor much richer. It was innovation.
In fact, here is a Tory way to talk about inequality — to promise that politicians will work to unleash the power of innovation to bring living standards up for the poor more than for the ric

Yet the statists don't get any power or wealth out of that so class warfare it must be. Pride and greed both go before a fall.


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