Occupy Wall Street, class warfare, and dividing the pie

What's a fair division of America's wealth? Photo: Associated Press

CLEMSON, SC, October 11, 2011—How you think we should “divide the economic pie” tells us a lot about your economic values.

A hot topic in political economy today is the growing disparity between the top 1% and the remaining 99% in terms of income and wealth. The leftists and hobos Occupying Wall Street are using this disparity to get the nation to buy into class warfare.

 In fact, not only do they include the top 1% in their hatred, but anyone in the middle-class – the workers who drive the economy. Sometimes they ignorantly include themselves in their rash hatred because they themselves own retirement plans, which consist of stocks and mutual funds that earn money as a result of those “evil windfall corporate profits” that they so earnestly decry.

This topic raises an interesting question: Is it better to eat at a table where everyone has very little food on their plate, or at a table where a few people have no food, a majority have enough to live well, and a few have much more food than they would ever need?

The question may be posed to promote charity or raise awareness of those in need, but it also silently promotes a leftist agenda. If the wealthy take the question seriously, they might be moved to share more and help the rest of us.  But as posed, the question easily feeds the hate against those who “have much more food than they would ever need.”

 The wealthy should be generous and compassionate. In fact, most are very willing to part with substantial amounts of their money. Forty US billionaires, including Bill Gates, signed “The Giving Pledge” last year in which they promised to donate half of their wealth to charitable organizations. Many have already donated much and are contributing to great and charitable causes.

Regardless, those who are not wealthy shouldn’t be angry with those who “have too much food” solely for being successful. Instead, we should strive to follow their successes so that we will be able to feed ourselves and feed others.

In drawing a picture of the United States economy, the “dinner table” question creates what in logic is called a “false dichotomy.” A false dichotomy is a logical fallacy involving a situation in which only two alternatives are presented and considered, when in fact there are others. Between the two possibilities presented in this question lie an almost infinite number of alternatives.  

Questions about dividing the economic pie almost always rest on the assumption that there is a set amount of wealth to disperse among us all — that somehow there is a limit on the size of “the pie,” or the amount of food we can put on the table.  

In politics, it is easy for people to get into the mindset that there is a set amount of money and resources already in the economy, and that in the future that figure will remain constant. The only thing that differs from year to year is who now owns more or less of “the pie.” Politics then becomes a game of shifting the same resources back and forth between interest groups.

Most true conservatives, successful entrepreneurs, and proponents of Capitalism (not Cronyism) seem to agree on a central point: Wealth is not a constant, but rather, wealth is created with every positive-sum transaction. When the free market thrives, the economy grows because the entire pie grows and new markets emerge, not because the pie gets cut differently.

The framework of our rhetorical meal question then radically changes. In the free market system, there are buffets. People must walk to get to them, which is not always easy. In fact, some buffets are off-limits, classified as “illegal.” Others have very little food to choose from. Farther away, there are ever-replenished buffets that are a challenge to find.  

 Some cannot physically make it to the farther buffets and require the charity of those who have made it. Those with full plates don’t just need to share their food. They should show those with no food the closest way to the buffets or share from experience tips to find them.

However, if those with no food get angry and attack those who worked to get their food from the buffets, and then confiscate it, then who will be left to lead the way to the buffet for future meals?
If we crucify the wealthy like
Steve Jobs and the evil corporations like Apple, simply because they are successful, from where will we get our Apple products?


John Paul Cassil studies Management/Entrepreneurship and Political Science at Clemson University. A former U.S. House of Representatives Page, Cassil has since worked on conservative campaigns and in Congress for Congresswoman Foxx.

Cassil is the Managing Editor of the Tiger Town Observer, Clemson’s Conservative Journal of News and Opinion. He regularly speaks about activism at national conservative conferences.

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John Paul Cassil

John Paul Cassil studied Business Management (Entrepreneurship) and Political Science, recently graduating from Clemson University with the highest GPA of all business majors in his class. Cassil currently performs business analysis for the Secretary's Office of the U.S. Department of State, with an active Top Secret Security Clearance. 

Cassil has extensively traveled throughout Europe, the US, and the Middle East. He's lived across the American South, in Belgium, Kuwait, and Israel. He has interests in politics and foreign policy, having participated in numerous Model United Nations conferences around the world, including Harvard World MUN in Taipei, Taiwan and Princeton's 2008 Youth Initiative for Progress in Iraq Conference, in Amman, Jordan. 

In 2007, Cassil was appointed as a U.S. House of Representatives Republican Cloakroom Page by Speaker of the House John Boehner. Cassil has since worked for Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, as well as South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson's successful campaign. 

In College, Cassil served as the Managing Editor and Media Director of Clemson's Tiger Town Observer, as well as the Founder and Chairman of Clemson's Young Americans for Freedom. He has spoken about his collegiate activism at national conferences of organizations such as the Young America's Foundation and Eagle Forum. He has written articles for both The Washington Times Communities and Roll Call.

To find out more about Cassil, visit www.johncassil.com.

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This column does not express the opinions of the U.S. Government or any of its agencies.


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