Theft and the Hypocrisy of Liberalism
Dinesh D’Souza’s movie “America: Imagine a World Without Her” tackles the liberal notion that America is a country built upon theft. For now, let’s give the liberal position the benefit of the doubt that America is built upon the conquest ethic so we can focus on their solutions instead. In an attempt to resolve theft-derived inequalities, these policies themselves use theft to resolve the problem that was initially caused by theft.
Consider affirmative action. Affirmative action policies allow members of previously discriminated allegedly disadvantaged and underrepresented minorities to obtain positions and seats in colleges with fewer qualifications than their competitors. The theft conducted by affirmative action is not clear at first, but still present. College admissions and job hiring is a zero-sum game where a position is given to one, is a position taken from another, in this case, a candidate who was more qualified. In that sense, affirmative action steals the merits of one student’s hard work and delivers it to another student solely based on the color of their skin.
Welfare is another program that absurdly uses theft to resolve the effects of past theft. Liberal altruism advocates the redistribution of wealth from the rich (which is an arbitrary number) to the poor (another arbitrary number) to account for past racial or economic oppression. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society program is an example of this. Altruism advocates that mankind has a constant duty to live for others and serve humanity. However, there is a striking difference between the altruism of individual charity and the altruism of the redistributing liberal: the former is based off of an individual desire to help, while the latter requires coercion to operate. In private charity, acts motivated by charitable individuals are at the consent of the donor. On the other hand, welfare obtained through taxation redistributes wealth to the desire of the receiver and against the will of the giver, thus constituting theft.
At first glance, it is easy to understand why liberals want to continue these programs for historically oppressed groups. The analogy of learning to swim helps with this. Imagine a five year old who has never been taught to swim and is all of a sudden thrown into a well and expected to survive. Chances are the child won’t make it. This is how liberals view societies. Even conservatives seem swayed by this analogy and viewpoint for they advocate for evolution over revolution in societal change.
However, in a meritocratic society, the need for this sort of societal integration after a period of oppression is unnecessary. For example, consider black and white male unemployment rates post-slavery.
Starting with the 1880’s, when such data was collected, black and white male unemployment rates were virtually identical until the 1940’s, when minimum wage laws with racist undertones came about (another liberal policy). Seemingly enough, blacks naturally integrated well into the free market society after slavery without much trouble. Frederick Douglass summarized how the free market encourages this labor market integration so easily in one quote: “Give him wages for his work and let hunger pinch him if he does not work”.
There are two ways to resolve injustices that were conducted in the past: to either let everybody play fairly in a laissez-faire and meritocratic society or to try to make up for these injustices by finding the alleged thieves and returning what was stolen. On a societal scale, the latter method does not work for most past thieves are dead today and stealing today does not correct stealing yesterday. On the other hand, people seem to spontaneously integrate in a free market, as evidenced by post-slavery unemployment rates. The American free-market system allows for people of all backgrounds, of all histories to climb their way to success regardless of how they started out. Therefore, it is important to remember that two wrongs do not make a right.