There are two main ways to acquire wealth in America.
One is to create it. The other is to steal it.
To create wealth one must innovate, invent or invest in new infrastructure. Innovations are ways to get more productivity out of a process and inventions are new products. Both generate wealth, but more times than not both also grew out of investments in infrastructure–physical things like canals, railroads, highways and power grids or research that created entire new industries from plastics to the internets and/or investments in people like education funding and job training. In the history of wealth creation most of these infrastructure investments have been led by Government spending and from that spending billions of dollars of wealth have been created along with millions and millions of jobs. It is a model of creating real wealth that goes back hundreds of years.
Of course, the other model of generating wealth goes back thousands of years. It has always been easier to steal money from others than it has been to create it through investment, innovation and invention. Stealing is just an easy path to riches.
150 years ago the Confederacy launched the Civil War to protect an economic systems based on the theft. Slavery was the most obvious example, but the system also exempted the rich from taxes and the burdens of war. It also refused to support innovation, invention or infrastructure as tools to generate wealth. It was a Kleptocracy.
One of the Confederacy’s biggest gripes against Lincoln was that Old Abe wanted to invest Federal money in Education, railroads, ports, and other physical improvements. Worst from their POV was that Lincoln also wanted to invest in people and protect the rights of workers. Lincoln’s desire to limit the amount of wealth the elites could steal was why the South started the war.
The right of the elites to make money through theft was what the Confederacy was all about and protecting the rights of elites to steal wealth is still a core belief of the modern
Republican Confederate Party.
Case in point is Paul Ryan’s very “serious” wealth redistribution plan. At its core it is a plan to steal the labor, savings and wealth from most Americans and redistribute it to the elites. It is just another plan–in an endless series of plans–designed to steal money while passing along the cost of social and environmental destruction to others. It is just theft, plain and simple.
And like the Confederates of old, Ryan and his fellow eunuchs of the the elites are against any Federal involvement in wealth creation through innovation, invention or infrastructure spending. That might create new winners and losers and we can’t have that in their Galtian wonderland.
Ryan’s plan is distinctly Confederate, but then again that could be said about almost everything offered by the Republican controlled House. All of their policies are an effort to turn the clock back to some time before the Civil War and recreate a distinctly Confederate economy–an economy controlled by an elite handful of old white guys who could steal anything they wanted and below them a mass of poor folks struggling just to survive.
Ryan has an ambitious vision and it should be fought with all the passion that the Grand Army of the Republic fought the earlier ambitious vision of the Confederates. Both shared a vision that theft was the best way to generate wealth and both were wrong.