“The project is to dilute the concept of individualism, thereby refuting respect for the individual’s zone of sovereignty.”

That’s George Will, doing the kind of writing I wish I could do. He’s talking about Elizabeth Warren, the Senate candidate challenging Scott Brown, who now-famously said:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. . . . You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Will describes this:

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual.

Of course, if society is creating all these achievements, why bother to struggle and strain myself?

But the WaPo’s Greg Sargent thinks Will is off-base:

What Warren actually said celebrated individual achievement, property and autonomy, while making the completely uncontroversial argument that those things are made possible by a functioning society enabled by a healthy social contract.

Maybe we listened to two different speeches. Or, more likely, we listened to the same speech through two different prisms. But if Warren was “celebrating individual achievement, property and autonomy,” then my phone really is going to ring on NFL Draft Day next year.

Warren wasn’t celebrating the individual — she was celebrating the individual’s debt to the collective. As in: everything you have, you owe to us. You have claim to nothing. Whatever you “own,” you own because we made it possible. Not you. Us.

Having said that, it is true that we — individually — couldn’t be as successful as we are without collective action. Without a government monopoly on the legitimate use of force, for example, storekeepers could never feel secure that they wouldn’t be robbed or burgled every single day. Therefore, nobody would ever open a store.

But there’s a point at which collective action becomes a drag on economic activity. It’s a concept called “diminishing returns.” Sometimes described in the “Laffer Curve.” There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing.

To illustrate, we turn to Monty Python:

Caution: gross. Kind of like the America that Warren wants.

(Posted by The TrogloPundit.)

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