“Political economy starts with the fact of private property… The only wheels which political economy sets in motion are greed and the war amongst the greedy – competition.” ~ Karl Marx
Marx was on to something. His insight was on target. The issue is not the unequal distribution of income, which is itself a dire symptom of the “war amongst the greedy,” otherwise known as competition. No, it goes to a more substantive problem. The issue is the unequal distribution of private property.
Today’s young, shining stars of the new “democratic socialism” likely have a much better understanding of the modern dilemma than do the republican capitalists. The democratic socialists understand that capitalism is inherently flawed. The Republicans simply repeat their mantra that capitalism is the greatest system ever created, when in fact it is a system genetically engineered to the accumulation of wealth (private property) in the hands of a few. This is manifestly true, and the social democrats, the new Marxists, get that. What they miss is the solution.
The social democrats focus on income redistribution (e.g., 70% marginal tax rates on the rich) rather than the allocation of private property itself. Marx understood the real problem, the core problem underlying income inequality, to be property. The problem with his solution is that it lacked creativity and was grounded in pure materialism. Marx’s solution was to get rid of all private property. Since private property is the root cause of the problem, then do away with it, and, presto, the problem goes away and utopia sets in.
The answer is not the social democrats’ superficial income redistribution, nor Marx’s fantastically unreal utopian elimination of private property, nor even the capitalists’ disingenuous and frightfully naive notion that through self-interest the rich will act in ways that benefit the poor and society at large. The answer is in a wide distribution of private property. We need neither the government nor the multi-national corporation. What we need is the locally owned corner drug store, the locally owned hardware store, and protection of local private property from both the government and multi-nationals.
The answer is neither democratic socialism, whereby no one owns anything, nor republican capitalism, whereby only a few own everything, but in well distributed private property ownership whereby we all own as much of our means of employment as possible and whereby we all are as independent in supporting ourselves as possible.
There we will have more equal income distribution without giving up our freedoms, limited government, a fortress against the multi-national, and protection of our local communities from the political and financial elite.