What if we just gave everybody the same amount of wealth?

What if we quit playing at redistribution, and actually redistribute? Take all the wealth in America, and divvy it up. Everybody gets the same, as close as we can make it.

Imagine! No more rich and poor; no more “haves” and “have-nots.” No more Two Americas. No more half the nation struggling to make ends meet while two percent just can’t seem to find enough help to clean the toilets in their second summer home.

An economic paradise!

Let me admit up front, this is a bit of a straw man. While there may be — in fact, probably are — plenty of liberal “progressive” socialists radical enough to like this idea, nobody’s actually suggesting that we pursue it in any serious way.

This is really more of an academic exercise, because I think it’ll be fun.

The socialist — actually, more of a Communist — ideal. Everybody gets the exact same amount. Nobody has any more than anybody else.

Then what?

Brace yourself: by the end of the first year, some people will have more than others. Guaranteed. Some people, you see, will be careful with what they have. Others won’t. Some people will gamble, others will save. Some will spend lavishly, others will be frugal.

Besides that, some people simply have more of the kind of wealth that can’t be redistributed. Intelligence; education; ambition. Drive, as opposed to: aw, we’re gonna get what we’re gonna get anyway, so let’s just stay on the couch and watch TV. Some people will put a little giddy-up in their get-alongs, and will find ways to improve their own lives.

Some of that will be “unfair,” because some people have more and better resources to tap. Intelligence; talent; family. Even accounting for such differences, though: some people will turn what they have into more, while others will not. Therefore, by the end of the very first year (not to mention the first five or ten) “haves” and “have-nots” will appear.

I know what you’re thinking. Crap. I thought we had it this time. Fairness! And this return to economic inequity will happen, I daresay, even under the strictest Communist policies.

I’ll come back to that.

After ten, twenty, thirty years, those discrepancies will widen. A middle class will form. An upper economic class, and a lower economic class. These classes will not be dead ends: people will be able to move from one to another and back again. But they’ll reappear, despite the original, radical redistribution of wealth.

So: let’s take this exercise further. Rather than a one-time redistribution of wealth, let’s redistribute every year. Every April 23 – Michael Moore’s birthday — all wealth is redistributed. All wages set by Central Command. Everyone is as equal as it’s possible to make them. Even individual advantages are nullified.

Not really, but we’ll come back to that, too.

Obviously, that system does away with any incentive to create. It removes any incentive to save; to be frugal; to work hard. Because no matter what you do, what you get is predetermined.

And yet, by April 22 of the following year, some people will still have more than others. And they’ll keep it.

How can that be? Simple. Even state-enforced economic “equality” did not — can not — make everyone “equal.” It can only change the attributes that are most important to getting ahead.

Sucking up to your superiors becomes more important than working hard. Figuring out which bureaucrats can do the most for you, and ingratiating yourself to them.

Using the power of government to get you ahead, instead of creating, making, building, selling. Improving technical or academic skills? What for? Improving political skills. That’s what makes a difference.

You may recognize a little of our current system there. More and more, becoming a “have” in our society requires entering the bureaucracy, or getting the bureaucracy on your side.

Even the hard working entrepreneurs and innovators among us increasingly need the bureaucracy’s help. Vast mazes of regulations give bureaucracies vast power over both you and your competitors. Government can make or break an industry. Make or break a company. It can increase the cost of entry beyond plausibility, or it can make that cost go away.

In the free market, wealth comes from work. The closer we move toward socialism, the more wealth comes from power. That’s the difference. The similarity: wealth still exists in relatively few hands.

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