BreakPoint Blog

Vice vs. Virtue

What's the idea of wealth redistribution got to do with vice? As professor James Schall says, the people who are espousing its wonders are suffering from envy.

What do you think?


Ben W. you're back! It's good to see you again.
I have to agree with Ellen...sort of. You have to have something to owe something. And, in the U.S., even the lower classes live like kings compared to some of the Third World Countries. On the other hand, have you seen what the welfare recepients have these days??? I live in a 35-yr-old trailer, I drive a 25-yr-old car, and my 71-yr-old husband is still working. We ARE the "working poor"! Still, my needs are met, and God is good. As Ben W. said, "Give people resources, not handouts"!
Vanessa, you have to be rich to own cars, furniture and bills! By world standards, the middle class American is exceedingly rich.
Sell all you have and give to the poor was obviously commanded to one man. Otherwise the merchants he sold to and the poor he gave to would thereby be owners and thus sinning. An interpretation of a command which cannot be fulfilled except by encouraging others to sin is necessarily dubious.
Ben, I remain ever willing ;-) to help out a friend, particularly one seeking information on "redistribution of wealth":

But as usual (and something I've missed), you challenge us; how can we obey "sell all you have and give the money to the poor" and also "if a man will not work, neither shall he eat"?

I'm delighted, though, that we agree on the "a hand up, not a handout" idea.

We should ask someone familiar with history (wink) whether robbing the rich to give to the poor while (ahem) keeping a generous portion for oneself dates back all the way to Robin of Loxley, or if this is more characteristic of modern bureaucratic governments.
Interesting, but vague. I'm not sure exactly what constitutes "redistribution of wealth", other than when someone goes, sells all their possessions, and gives it to the poor.

But I agree with him, in principle. 'If we really want to help the poor to become not poor, the first thing we must do is stop talking of “redistribution,” which is, at bottom, a branch of envy theory. We have to look elsewhere, at innovation, thrift, incentive, proportionate justice, virtue, markets, culture, and growth.'

We should be investing in people, not just giving them money. I think we're doing mostly ok with that - welfare is not as easy to get anymore, and has both short-term and lifetime caps on how much you can receive. We encourage people to get educations and start businesses with loans. We make education easy, with free public libraries and lectures from MIT available online. This is the right direction, I think. Give people resources, not handouts.