Jim Dixon, Kingsley Amis’s infamous Lucky Jim, put the logic of wealth redistribution in everyday terms: “If one man’s got ten buns and another’s got two, and a bun has got to be given up by one of them, then surely you take it from the man with ten buns.” Remarkably simple, leaving out, as it does,
- the making of buns;
- the effect of expropriating buns now on future bun production;
- trade in buns and
- consequent changes in ratios of bun ownership, sans expropriation;
- what effect the nabbing of buns has on the demand to take more buns in the future; and
- the necessity of taking buns in the first place (which Lucky Jim’s interlocutors noted).
Think about it longer than a minute, and it’s easy to see that the “soak-the-rich” plan quickly runs into trouble, one bit of difficulty neatly stated in the old adage often attributed to Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Sometimes you even run out of other people. As France may show next.
Socialists there have won the recent elections. They promise to reinstate the old, ugly wealth tax, as well as up the income tax on “the rich.” And so of course some of the richer French folks contemplate exile — at least as far as the welcoming cantons of Switzerland.
There are problems with this option, though. Under Sarkozy, the French government had instituted a whopping exit tax. But, if Mathieu van Berchem is to be believed, even this will prove “unlikely to stop any ‘exodus.’ There are often more reasons to leave than to stay, while the Socialist government could turn on the wealthy even more.”
If so, expect future French buns to have Swiss crosses stamped upon them.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.