by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rich Lowry sees through the silliness of Massachusetts Senate candidate and Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren’s remarks about soak-the-rich tax policies representing part of an “underlying social contract.”
Her remarks and the celebration of them capture the Left’s romance with collective action over individual initiative. Most people don’t look at a successful manufacturer and say, “Yeah, but he’d be nothing without a surface-transportation network.” Although all of us (not just the rich) travel roads and bridges, few of us open factories.
Focusing on infrastructure as the crucial support of entrepreneurial activity is like crediting the guy who built young Bill Gates’s garage with the start of Microsoft. Yes, Gates needed a roof over his head, and garages are useful. But it was Gates who had the ambition to do more in his garage than store his car and lawn-care products. Incalculably more important than his physical surroundings were his imagination and business sense.
Could Gates have done it in Mogadishu or Peshawar? Certainly not. But the goods cited by Warren as the foundation of a workable business environment are extremely minimal. If all the government did was build roads, educate kids, and provide for public order, it’d be a libertarian paradise almost up to the standards of Ron Paul. Then our government could easily be funded exclusively by taxes on the rich.
In the real world, Warren wants her factory owner to fund runaway spending that threatens the country’s future, unreformed entitlement programs, a public sector that is often effectively a jobs program for the Democratic party, a failing education system, subsidies for other people’s factories so long as they are “green,” and a burgeoning regulatory apparatus crimping his business. All of this is supposed to activate the owner’s sense of mutual obligation?