Friday, August 17, 2007

Politics of Envy

Jonah Goldberg:
John Edwards leads an all-star cast of liberal politicians and intellectuals (Edwards is decidedly not the latter) who worship at the altar of Invidia, praying that she will exact penance from the undeserving half of our “two Americas.”

Like the “scientific socialism” that concealed envy behind a slide rule, today’s liberals invoke social science as justification for their covetousness. In one famous study, a majority of people said they would
rather make $50,000 if others earned $25,000 than earn $100,000 if others were making $200,000.

Such studies are deeply flawed. For starters, as Arthur Brooks notes in the current edition of City Journal, they don’t address the question of whether people would be happier in a world of total equality. Rather,
they ask whether people would be happier in a world of inequality so long as they could be richer than everybody else.

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