Last week Thomas Edsall had a column in the New York Times where he directly stated that the difference between conservatives and liberals is the extent over which they are willing to reverse market outcomes to redistribute money from winners to losers:
“…the two sides are fighting over what the role of government in redistributing resources from the affluent to the needy should and shouldn’t be.”
This was annoying not only because it is so seriously wrong, but also because this statement came from one of the more astute observers of American politics alive today.
Anyone trying to understand the role of the government in the economy should know that whatever it does or does not do by way of redistribution is trivial compared with the actions it takes to determine the initial distribution. Rich people don’t get rich exclusively by virtue of their talents and hard work; they get rich because the government made rules to allow them to get rich.