Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sullivan is confused over who are the Makers and who are the Takers

From a commenter taking Andrew Sullivan to task for saying something stupid which he attempts to "clarify", though not satisfactorily:

"It will be between the makers and the takers, the producers of wealth and the recipients of redistribution."

It's the phrase "producers of wealth" that traps many modern conservatives.  It's the Larry Kudlow view of the world, in which the debt-fueled paper profits of Wall Street were repeatedly lionized as "the greatest story never told."  Bernie Madoff, AIG, and the Saudi royal family are (or were) incredible producers of wealth.  The financial services industry got away with its destructive behavior for so long because it was driving GDP growth.  Clearly there is a difference between producing "wealth" and producing, as you write in your clarification "something of value."  To the extent that wealth production is decoupled from value production, capitalism is failing.  The scam artists that drove Wall Street into the ground are walking away insanely wealthy and largely unscathed, and future scam artists are surely taking note.

With that in mind, I'm curious as to how you propose we restore the association between wealth production and value creation.

Sullivan sees the Makers as the capitalists who make wealth, and the Takers as everyone else. This warped perspective is what has got us where we are today, and is what's fundamentally wrong with Capitalism. The Capitalists would be nowhere without Labor, plain and simple, though they live in the illusion that Labor could not exist without them. Depending on how you look at it, there's a measure of truth to this, but only to the extent of the system set in place in Medieval times. The truth is that the Capitalists, indeed Conservatives, are the real Takers, while it is Labor that are the Makers.

Capitalists might put up capital to allow for Makers to produce goods, but they ultimately take the spoils and benefits, and leave the Makers with pittance and scraps to fight over. This has gone on for centuries, and sadly will continue on as long as Labor, the Makers, allow it.

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