It all started a couple weeks ago, wondering how Al Sharpton became wealthy and powerful. Which he is of course permitted to do in a free market economy. But it is interesting in itself that a person who devotes his life to undermining our way of life is able to enrich himself in so doing. Is that ironic or is it the whole point?
White liberals tell us that Al Sharpton is a "black leader." They should know because they created the office and gave him the job. He is purely a top-down creature of white liberals, not the product of any spontaneous, bottom-up movement. That would be such an insult to blacks that one doesn't want to go down that path.
To the extent that Sharpton has "power," it is at the pleasure of his white liberal masters. If his masters wanted to destroy him, they could do so in a nanosecond. The easiest way would be to simply turn off the camera -- as they routinely do when one of their clowns becomes an embarrassment or liability, say, Cindy Sheehan or Jonathan Edwards -- but they could also just enforce the law and put him away on charges of tax evasion.
Thomas Sowell -- well, first of all, he is not a black leader. This alone tells us what qualifies a person for the title. Remember, we're talking about white liberals, not blacks per se. If the ultimate purpose of a black leader is to make white liberals feel good about themselves, then Thomas Sowell is not fit to serve. Among other liabilities, he does not help white liberals assuage their guilt and feel morally superior to others.
Anyway, Sowell puts forth the classic view that economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses. That's all it is.
Why are resources scarce? Two main reasons, 1) reality, and 2) unreality. In other words, some things are scarce because there is a limited supply of them; but other things are scarce because the human imagination is infinite. Therefore, no matter how much we have, we can always want more: human desire will always drive scarcity, irrespective of how much abundance we have.
Another way of talking about this difference is through the concepts of absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is lacking the necessities to sustain life. But relative poverty is just having less than the guy next door.
In America we have conquered absolute poverty. No one here is starving. To the contrary, our poor tend not only to be obese, but to suffer first world diseases of affluence such as type II diabetes. Consider what Sharpton himself looked like before he did whatever he did to make himself look like an emaciated hippo, with all that extra skin.
Probably the one thing that animates leftists above all else is "income inequality." This is another case of "infinite desire," since we have already achieved equality under the law. That was the original goal of liberals, and in that important sense, I am the same liberal I have always been.
But remember what was said above about economics and scarcity. If there is no "scarcity" of legal equality, then the "civil rights leaders" have nothing to sell; or, what they had been selling is worthless, because now there is an abundance of it.
Therefore, to stay in business, a new form of scarcity must be discovered and promoted -- no different from any other company that must invent new products and innovations to stay in business. So, instead of equality, they began selling income inequality; instead of justice, social justice.
With this shift, they assured that they would never again be threatened with going out of business, because they essentially elevated desire -- which is again infinite -- to right -- with the unfortunate consequence that human desire enlists the power of the state to satiate itself.
This then leads to an arms race in the so-called "war on poverty." Probably few people realize that when LBJ first proposed the idea, it was with the promise that this would under no circumstances become the institutionalization of a welfare state. Rather, this would be different, maybe lasting for a generation, just to get a few economic stragglers over the hump.
But, desire being infinite, poverty is always relative, so "the poor will always be with us." But now they serve as political pawns for retrobates such as Obama or Ted Kennedy or Elizabeth Warren to acquire real power.
So the poor have great power. What is interesting is that the left doesn't want them to think they have any personal power in the conventional sense. Rather, they want them to believe the opposite: that they have no power -- that, in the words of Obama, white mans' greed rules a world in need.
So, how is the powerless power of poor people converted to the real political power of the left? Again, it can't have to do with real scarcity, but must flow from the infinite imagination.
Analogously, think of how the power of a battery is the result of its positive and negative polarity. Just so, the power of the left is a function of the polarity between desire and world, or between what I have and what I want. It is as close to a perpetual motion machine as we'll ever have, but in so doing turns the gift of the soul's infinitude into a perpetual liability. It places envy at the center, which is to confuse the parasite with the host.
To be continued...