On Sun, May 29, 2016 at 10:21 PM, Alexander Thomas <alexanderanthonythomas> wrote:
Dear Mr. Spencer,
It has been some time since I last posted here, but I feel it important to address your comments about our "nature" as a species. What you paraphrase as the political and socioeconomic incursion of the left is, in actuality–and evidenced by History– a direct response to our inherent nature. As the comedian Colin Quinn once said, "we are not evolved from the ‘after-you’ but the ‘after-me’ people." Redistribution of value within a society is reflective of the evolving dynamics of the society itself. It has happened, and it will continue to happen. This is largely because the "nature" that you speak of is a history of violence, and involves Ice Age tactics of cutting the weakest link in the group when resources are limited. Here’s the key: we have evolved to look for weakness, and to look for reasons to cut the other man out, even when no immediate threat is present.
We see it in our society as greed; individuals hoard resources, despite having plenty. As an inevitable result of social structure, this hoarding is converted into societal influence. Societal influence then provides a greater ability to hoard more and more effectively than others. In other words, the rich get richer–this is part of our nature. So is sadism, malice, and every other deadly sin you’ve ever heard of. A natural instinct. Ethics is about overcoming basic instincts through the rational application of consciousness; by seeing the larger canvas, we can apply ourselves to greater ideals and pursuits. As such, we should recognize that parts of our nature must not only be suppressed, but actively combated. What is the Devil if not a reflection of what we fear in ourselves, from ourselves?
Furthermore, the desire to redistribute is not leftist, it is proletariat. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders were all voted for by working class Americans who want a Washington ‘outsider’. What does ‘outsider’ translate to? Redistribution. And it’s not new (e.g., election of Andrew Jackson). Right and Left is actually quite irrelevant and does not speak to the larger human issue.
Several other comments you made should also be addressed, but it is difficult to write coherently as there is much to unpack, and I want to do it in a way that is easily understood. I will address them as subsequent paragraphs:
1) Intelligence is not easily defined. Therefore, when you talk about a rank-and-file order with meritocratic intentions, you are oversimplifying severely. Who is more intelligent, the stockbroker or the physician or Beethoven, or are we missing nuance here? (Rhetorical.)
2) Related to our nature, the difficulty lies not in our ability to recognize difference–we’re very good at that, and we have done it for millenia quite ‘naturally’. No one believes that aptitude is evenly distributed. If that were so, there would be no diplomas or ranks or salaries.Our society has test after test and filter after filter because the one thing we are all sure of is that aptitude is not evenly distributed. Neither is fortune, which is what redistribution is about: everyone deserves the CHANCE to display aptitude, and it is the OPPORTUNITY that we demand be equal (ringing any constitutional bells?). Too many in our world never see that chance, and too many are blotted out by advantages taken by the privileged to retain their privilege (e.g., do you think any inner city kids got a $100/hr SAT tutor?). Redistribution is about opportunity, not direct wealth.
The system is not fair BECAUSE it is hierarchical. But this is also inevitable. (e.g., suburban kids will continue to have SAT tutors). So, the best a civil society can do is recognize that we are deviating too far from the mean, and attempt to reset it by doing the least damage possible (i.e., through coordinated and incremental restructuring, rather than huge swaps of privilege and power).
3) Citizens are motivated by rewards. And rewards are not evenly distributed. Ever. That’s what defines them as rewards. They cannot ever be evenly distributed, even if you tried: everything is too dynamic for that to make sense. Despite the luxury of modernity, we are far from the status of lofty gods suffering from boredom. If your impending death as well as the suffering of others around you is not enough to motivate you, then you’re not a very good citizen; and since there are indeed good citizens, you will simply be replaced. There’s a lot to do, and plenty of reasons to do it. Of course, I realize that you have probably oversimplified again, and believe that ‘reward’ is synonymous to ‘capital.’ To a certain extent, they overlap. But rewards vary tremendously. Prestige is a reward. Acquired status is a reward. As such, competition varies tremendously. If you are concerned that society will become rigid and static because of a lack of motivation, rest assured. Ivy League students living in the most lavish era of recorded history aren’t committing suicide because they’re not motivated. There is a lot to compete for. Every brilliant scientist I’ve ever met (and my professors work at CERN) are not motivated by financial incentives. These brilliant people barely make 6 figures. Why, then? Why all the anxiety and stress and deadlines? It’s not for the paycheck. It’s for the Nobel Prize. The History books. The ego– another product of evolution, perhaps to motivate us in the very ‘equal’ circumstances you dread.
All in all, redistribution is an inevitable aspect of human society because life is dynamic. Whether that comes in the form of an angry lynch mob burning libraries, or student loan debt forgiveness, is up to us and those we elect. But do not oversimplify and tag ‘redistribution’ as the enemy. Redistribution and regulation are not debatable. Specific mechanisms used to facilitate redistribution are the only factors manipulated in this equation.