Monday, April 26, 2010

Correspondence

Le Duc Violet writes:
How about you write this post again with a clear idea of what you want people to "get out of it" and see if that works? Because this iteration leaves everyone scratching their heads as to what it is precisely you are trying to say.

Aside from the fact you are jealous of Matt Yglesias's clarity & large following.

FLG must say that Le Duc Violet's first comment was a very insightful highlighting of a typo in the post, and so he approaches this with some skepticism.

On the point of being jealous of Yglesias' large following, FLG respectfully laughs. He has no aspirations for a large following and is completely happy with however many people read his blog.

On the clarity point, FLG respectfully suggests that Matt isn't exactly a paragon of lucidity, but he is better than most bloggers.

On the clarity of the post in question, FLG thinks it's pretty damn clear.

If the process for determining if and how wealth is redistributed is sufficiently legitimate, which for FLG means sufficiently democratic, then he can accept it. The issue he has here is that Matt portrays the redistribution and subsequent consumption as the only sensible alternative.

And then this seems pretty clear to FLG:
So, for Matt, there seems to be a point where a country is wealthy enough that it ought to enjoy that wealth. This ought to be done as a society through political means. That's all well and good, but his so-called very big picture has a huge blind spot. Namely, that redistributing wealth, regardless of the awesomeness of the purpose, undermines private property. Undermining private property discourages people from creating more private property, i.e. more wealth. Given that population increases, either through reproduction or as Matt wants, through immigration to rich countries, we need to keep wealth increasing at least the rate of population growth just to keep even. If the redistribution retards that growth sufficiently, then his agenda undermines itself. Indeed, "social insurance, and efforts to improve public health all aiming at allowing people to live more and more of their time outside the bonds of commercial work," may hurt "productivity growth."

All told, it seems all very understandable. However, FLG is open to the possibility that it isn't. Or alternatively that Le Duc Violet is simply being contrary or isn't being a reasonably sympathetic reader.

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