A drunk looking for his keys

There is an old-ish parable about a drunkard looking for his keys under a light post.  He was looking for the keys under the post, not because he thought they were there, but because that was were the light was best.

This parable has manifested into the Streetlight Effect which is

a type of observational bias that occurs when people only search for something where it is easiest to look.

This streetlight effect is the plague that has infected developed country politics and public policy.  In Australia, this bias infects major areas of government from health to education to energy.

Post budget, there is no better example than the insane belief that spending more tax payer dollars will ipso facto deliver better results.  And why is this so?  Because when it comes to the areas that governments meddle, results are hard to measure but spending isn’t.

Put together a bunch of intellectually lazy and philosophically moribund politicians with a bunch of bureaucrats who are disconnected from outcomes (neither punished for failure nor rewarded for success) and what do you get?  You get, actually we all get, a public sector that eats the private sector.

The whole deception of income inequality is yet another area of “public policy” that is perverted by the streetlight effect.

Spartacus has previously written about the statistical charade that is income inequality (here and here).  But given the post-budget shower of fairness taxpayers have been subjected to, consider this.

When people (usually ALP, Greens, Black Handers, ABC, academics, those who live off the wealth created by the productive part of the economy) prattle on about income inequality, they are not saying that the poor are getting poorer.  They can’t be saying that given minimum wage increases, welfare, Gonksi, blah blah.  What they are really saying is that the rich are getting richer faster than the poor are getting richer.  And according to them that’s just not fair!

That’s right.  The poor are getting richer.  Air conditioning, public housing, flat screen televisions.  The poor have never had it better.  This is not to say that they have it great, but no-one is starving and no-one is denied essential health care.  If you want to know what poor is, go to a developing country.

But back to the point.  One would think that it would be better to focus on making the poor richer than to make the rich poorer.  But creating wealth is hard.  Taking it away is easy.  So what do our political overlords do?  They do what’s easy and their tool of preference is tax.  Tax the rich.  Tax business.  Tax the wealth creators.  Simple.  Pulling the roof down is always easier than lifting the floor.

To borrow Boetcker’s 10 Cannots:

  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  3. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  5. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  6. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  9. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
  10. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

One day in the future, having destroyed the productive economic edifice, these wise people, living comfortably off their government guaranteed defined benefit indexed superannuation schemes may possible reflect on what damaged they have caused.  But Spartacus somehow doubts it.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

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23 Responses to A drunk looking for his keys

  1. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    LEftists are deadshits

  2. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    Ill put that out there while I still can before the deadshits make it illegal

  3. The one I always remember is ‘ You can’t multiply wealth by dividing it’.

  4. struth

    We’re now at the point of needing to repeat the basic critiques of socialism.
    What was once well known and understood is now a bloody mystery.

  5. anonandon

    I have an acquaintance who is an ex ABC employee. Retired in his late 50’s. Indexed pension for life. He had a low to mid level position, not a high flyer by any stretch, but his pension gives him a lifestyle that would require way more than $2M of savings under current interest rates. Needless to say he is a rampant leftie and always argues for higher taxes, more welfare etc. One day he might lose that pension but the country would probably need to default on its debt before that happens. The way we are going I think it is a 50/50 proposition.

  6. Dr Fred Lenin

    An old man told me when I was young that if you took all the money off the rich and divided amongst the poor ,within a year the rich would have it back again . The workers in the West are better off than they have ever been as you say Spartacus those who dispute this should read books written in the early 1900s when the spruikings of Narx were almost relevant and poverty was abject and common and a bit of equality would have been handy. Six and eight people to one room , women having ten kids and six survived to adults life expectency 45 or so the only hospitals for the poor were the workhouse ones ,which were pretty ordinary They don’t know how well off they are now. Whingeing they haven’t got enough dole or OAP to keep smoking drinking and gambling ,poor buggers

  7. David Bidstrup

    His 7 crimes are worth a mention as well.

  8. stackja

    Leftists looking for OPM.

  9. Andore Jr.

    if you took all the money off the rich and divided amongst the poor ,within a year the rich would have it back again

    Would they want to have it back again?

  10. Dr Fred Lenin

    They would want it back it’s proof of achievement and hard work ,unlike the welfareists and their enablers . Why do you think the leftists take bribes and steal taxpayers money ?

  11. Perth Trader

    When ‘income inequality’ is a topic at home the first parameters I lay down are 1. wealth..2 income..3 or consumption. If a social engineer or leftist argues for income equality make them highlight all 3 in their debate.

  12. Exit Stage Right

    Good post Sparty. The not so common common sense approach.

  13. Buccaneer

    if you took all the money off the rich and divided amongst the poor ,within a year the rich would have it back again

    Sadly, although I understand the sentiment this is not true, for taking all the money off the rich and dividing it amongst the poor is socialism and the act of taking that money creates power for the elite that does it, who will want to retain that power. We know from history that pretty much the only way to claw that power from a socialist is from their cold dead hands.

  14. Egor

    Shockingly, I’ve come to the conclusion that Shorten has no chance of beating Lord Waffle next time.
    The more time Shorten spends on tv trying to look like a serious adult is disastrous for his mana.

    It doesn’t matter how Air Helair Turnbull looks, the Hero of Beaconsfield won’t get up according to my infallible Tradies Poll (the never been wrong one, of 50 to 80 Tradies). ‘He looks soft and kept’ is my paraphrasing.

  15. Tim Neilson

    It doesn’t matter how Air Helair Turnbull looks, the Hero of Beaconsfield won’t get up according to my infallible Tradies Poll (the never been wrong one, of 50 to 80 Tradies). ‘He looks soft and kept’ is my paraphrasing.

    The moment the 2pp gets to 50% Peanut Head will be scraped off the sole of the ALP’s Birkenstock faster than you can say “opportunistic ruthlessness”.

  16. Tim Neilson

    Dr Fred Lenin
    #2710407, posted on May 14, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    #2710477, posted on May 14, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Also not everyone who has inherited wealth has outstanding aptitude. Those who remain rich presumably have some threshold competence so as not to lose it all, so they may do all right after Year Zero, but they wouldn’t necessarily get back to the top of the heap.

    But I agree that “equalidee” wouldn’t last long. Maybe more than a year, but not more than a decade at most.

  17. Leo G

    But back to the point. One would think that it would be better to focus on making the poor richer than to make the rich poorer. But creating wealth is hard. Taking it away is easy. So what do our political overlords do?

    Why not focus on making the political overlords poorer, and let the rich and the poor focus on making themselves richer or poorer according to their needs.

  18. max

    progressives, and socialists want the government to:

    • Raise workers’ wages
    • Support working families
    • Expand access to affordable housing and homeownership
    • Protect and expand Social Security  
    • Ensure a secure and dignified retirement
    • Revitalize our nation’s Postal Service
    • Build a 21st-century infrastructure
    • Create good-paying clean energy jobs
    • Create jobs for America’s young people
    • Make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes
    • Promote trade that is fair and benefits American workers
    • End systemic racism
    • Close the racial wealth gap
    • Institute non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans
    • Invest in rural America
    • End poverty and invest in communities left behind
    • Promote arts and culture
    • Combat climate change
    • Build a clean energy economy
    • Secure environmental and climate justice
    • Be a strong advocate for the rights and opportunities of women and girls around the world
    • Support sexual and reproductive health and rights around the globe
    • Prevent drilling in the Arctic
    • Continue to have the strongest military in the world
    • Defeat ISIS, al Qaeda, and their affiliates
    • Provide development assistance to foreign countries
    • Make debt-free college a reality
    • Support historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions
    • Guarantee universal preschool and good schools for every child
    • Secure universal health care
    • Support community health centers
    • Reduce prescription drug costs
    • Combat drug and alcohol addiction

  19. Crossie

    You get, actually we all get, a public sector that eats the private sector.

    This is particularly true of media companies, the ABC is so cashed up with taxpayers’ money that they can now undercut all free to air TV channels and even pay TV and that’s exactly what they are doing.

  20. Wil

    I used to get chilblains, then we got heating, no more chilblains.
    Didn’t know we were poor until we got rich.

  21. mareeS

    There’s yuge satisfaction in making one’s wealth from a standing start, from good ideas that work. Much as the enviests hate it, people with skills and good minds will always trump the public service plodders when it comes to success. I seem to have morphed into a libertarian over the years.

  22. Rafe Champion

    Well done mareeS!

  23. duncanm

    Shorten is toast,

    the ALP has seen across the pond and is looking for a suitable Ardern to woo the idiots.

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