In my new book, The Entrepreneur: The Way Back for the U.S. Economy, I pose the question: When the lessons of history so clearly demonstrate that redistribution of wealth always ends badly for a nation, what could possibly motivate so many people to ignore such evidence?
I believe the answer is to be found in an acronym I like to refer to as GAVEAD (guilt, arrogance, victimization, envy, anger, demonization). These negative character flaws are powerful human failings that cause people to place their desire for wealth without work above moral considerations.
At its worst, GAVEAD manifests itself in bloody revolutions, such as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 and Fidel Castro’s overthrow of the Batista regime in Cuba in 1959. I know of no place or time in history when GAVEAD-inspired revolutions achieved a better, freer life for anyone who was not part of the ruling elite.
Although all GAVEAD is harmful, the GAVEAD trait that most annoys me is guilt. Guilt is a mental condition often found in wealthy people (particularly on the East and West Coasts of the United States), most — but not all — of whom did not acquire their fortunes through their own efforts.
The Kennedys and Rockefellers are good examples of guilt-ridden heirs to fortunes. Even today, the descendants of Joseph P. Kennedy and John D. Rockefeller are among the biggest advocates of wealth redistribution. And the most visible guilt-ridden Rockefeller of all is Jay Rockefeller, long-time progressive Senator from West Virginia.
From a psychological standpoint, it’s not hard to understand why someone who has been able to live in luxury all his life without ever having to do any real work would be inclined toward feelings of guilt. The problem is that the guilt feelings of those who have inherited great wealth often produce a desire in them to redistribute your wealth to those whom they deem to be in need.
From Bobby Kennedy to Teddy Kennedy, and now in some of their most vile progeny, we see this phenomenon play out again and again. Because these people have no idea what it’s like to start and run a business, meet a payroll and fight to keep afloat despite excessive government taxation and regulation, it is understandable that they cannot relate to the entrepreneur.
But it’s not just those who inherited their wealth who are afflicted with guilt. Guilt is also prevalent in those who have come into a lot of money quickly, again without having to do any real work. If you’re thinking Hollywood, you’re on the right track.
The main reason so many actors talk as though they have tapioca between their ears is that they have acquired enormous wealth by doing nothing more than excelling at pretending to be someone else while in front of a movie camera.
What is not as easy to understand is how some people who have actually built great fortunes through entrepreneurship — through creativity and hard work — end up feeling guilty about their wealth. In this category, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner and Bill Gates come to mind.
I think we can safely give much of the credit for making the super rich feel guilty to the far-left media that no longer report the news, but instead work, using subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) ploys, to champion anticapitalist causes.
In his book White Guilt, Shelby Steele takes the guilt issue one step further by explaining that Americans are hopelessly trapped by the need to feel guilty for the sins of their fathers. Any person of color — not just black, but Arab, Latino, Asian or other — must be coddled and handed the keys to the country (or, at the very least, to the university of his or her choice). If you don’t agree, you are likely to be scorned by your friends and acquaintances and accused of lacking compassion.
A “Kinder, Gentler Nation”
If you have any doubts about how powerful media-induced guilt can be, think back on what happened as soon as Ronald Reagan left office. His successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, immediately started blathering about change, thereby beating Barack Obama to the punch by some 20 years.
When I say immediately, I’m talking about President Bush’s inauguration address. That was when he first made an appeal for Americans to join in an effort to create a “kinder, gentler nation” — a catchphrase that the media gleefully jumped on.
Never mind the fact that nations can be neither kind nor gentle. Only people can be kind or gentle — as well as nasty or harsh. But by implying that Americans were not kind and gentle, Bush also implied that they needed politicians to help them be so.
The biggest problem in this regard is that for decades Republicans have allowed their Democratic pals to make up the rules of the game. Their mantra has long been: “We must show Democrats we are reasonable, civil people who are willing to ‘reach across the aisle’ and ‘compromise.’” In other words, their desire for popularity trumps morality.
Finally, in 2001, with the country still reeling from Father George’s kinder, gentler nation talk, along came Son George, who, immediately after taking office, started blathering about a weird abstraction he called “compassionate conservatism.” RINOs seem to have an uncontrollable propensity toward guilt — and financial suicide.
Of course, there’s some pragmatism involved here as well. Most conservative politicians believe that the only way they can get elected to office, and re-elected, is to prove they are compassionate. But the term compassionate conservatism wrongly implies that true conservatism is not compassionate.
On the contrary, the term compassionate conservatism is a redundancy, because true conservatism (which, as Ronald Reagan pointed out, has libertarian principles at its heart) is compassionate.
America doesn’t need another Democratic Party. The one it has is already bankrupting and enslaving us. What it needs is a party that will stand up for freedom, and that would be possible only if its members would refuse to give in to the “G” word in GAVEAD.
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