Bill Murchison
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An old joke would have it that there are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who preface broad statements with "There are two kinds of people in the world" -- and the kind who don't.

The fact, nonetheless, is that for economic purposes there really are two kinds of people: the kind who think government has most, if not the all, the answers and, on the other hand, the kind who know better. You sense this, hardly for the first time, in the national palaver about jobs and economic recovery.

Members of the government-has-most-of-the-answers faction usually call themselves Democrats. Generally, at this historical passage, they back President Obama and desire a slew of new economy-boosting measures on the government's part. Those of the opposite persuasion normally call themselves Republicans. Whereas few deny the necessity of some government, many view with fishy eyes most proposals for strengthening or multiplying government programs. This is due to a pair of factors: an engrained bias in favor of human freedom and an abiding skepticism that government knows what it's doing, economically speaking.

Government-has-the-answers people are inclined almost always to cut slack for those who seek more government oversight and regulation. Their trust can be truly touching. They really believe elected officials and the people they hire know best. The seemingly random operations of the marketplace send chills down their spines. They don't like apparently random outcomes. They think results can and should be controlled by "experts" of the sort that government officials and their enablers fancy themselves to be.

A conspicuous feature of Democratic rhetoric for the last few years has been affirmation of the need to "redistribute" wealth in a supposedly fairer way. Studies of economic inequality are rife. Expert A (who usually teaches in an Ivy League economics department, or else studied in one), says the spread between the rich and the poor is growing -- and, further, is developing as a threat to social stability.

The obvious answer, to those who produce such studies, is government intervention. Experts can decide how much money people actually need, hence, through adjustments in the tax code, they can even things out in a judicious way.

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Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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