Socialist Utopian versus Capitalist Utopian

Conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity likes to pull a ‘gotcha’ on unwitting liberal callers by backing them into the maxim “To every man according to his need, from every man according to his ability”. Once they agree that the line makes sense and that they also agree with it, he’ll inform them that it’s from the aspirations of Karl Marx. And then he’ll accuse them of being a “socialist utopian”. It makes little difference that some callers are willing to steer the conversation toward some sort of common ground. Hannity’s main objective is to discredit liberalism in all its shapes and sizes.

As much as Hannity likes to suggest that liberalism is an all-consuming force bent on destroying freedom in all its forms, I’d like to posit that deregulated capitalism is equally destructive to those things we all take for granted – e.g., fair pricing – from bread to housing. Hannity’s position is so entrenched that I would feel free to label him as a “capitalist utopian”, i.e., in favor of unlimited wealth. He likes to name-drop, pointing out that some of his best friends are quite wealthy, and suggesting they acquired their wealth through hard work.

Are we to conclude that hard work can be defined to the extent of merely having an idea, implementing it, marketing it to the masses, and enjoying an endless stream of revenue? To this point, does it make sense that the handful of Facebook owners each has a net worth in the billions from an idea implemented and marketed to the masses? Exactly where was the hard work spoken of? What sort of hard work has each investor been engaged in since FB’s inception that would justify a net worth in the billions?

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, two prominent players and litigants who were part of the original FB concept, settled with Mark Zuckerberg in 2008 to the tune of $65 million. Later, they appealed the settlement citing that Zuckerberg had at that time misrepresented the value of FB. Bottom line: $65 million of NOT hard-earned income proved to be not enough for the Winklevosses.

Whether we as individuals feel entitled to the benefits of either endless government social programs or an endless amount of wealth, the fact remains there are trade offs. Excessive and under-funded social programs lead to discontent among taxpayers at every income level just as much as a concentration of wealth at the top leads to resentment among those who are denied fair pricing for goods and services.

Here’s an extreme example to consider. Imagine the most powerful man on Earth being given the opportunity from aliens to travel to their distant planet to learn more not just about his place in the world but his place in the universe. But in order to accomplish this, he must use Earth as his source of fuel to travel to that distant planet. In other words, he must destroy Earth to become more than who is or what he is at this moment. It’s a moral dilemma. One that should make reasonable people reconsider the benefits of supposed security either through endless government entitlement or excessive wealth.

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