Thomas Sowell

Meanwhile, nothing has a track record of lifting millions of people from poverty to prosperity like a free market economy. Most officially "poor" Americans today have things that middle-class Americans of an earlier time could only dream about -- including color TV, videocassette recorders, microwave ovens, and their own cars. Moreover, half of all poor households have air-conditioning.

Leftist redistribution of income could never accomplish that, because there are simply not enough rich people for their wealth to have such a dramatic effect on the living standards of the poor, even if it was all confiscated and redistributed. Moreover, many attempts at redistributing wealth in various countries around the world have ended up redistributing poverty.

After all, rich people can see the political handwriting on the wall, and can often take their money and leave the country, long before a government program can get started to confiscate it. They are also likely to take with them skills and entrepreneurial experience that are even harder to replace than the money.

For those of us whose main concern is the well-being of ordinary people, it is a no-brainer to abandon the left as soon as we acquire enough knowledge about what actually happens, as distinguished from what leftist theories say will happen.

It is a very different story for those on the left whose goal is either a self-righteous sense of superiority or the political power with which to express their self-infatuation by imposing their vision on others. Here the poor are a means to an end. These kinds of leftists show remarkably little interest in the creation of wealth, which has raised living standards for the poor, as compared to their obsession with redistribution, which has not.

These kinds of leftists concentrate on inequalities that can be dealt with by turning money and power over to people like themselves. These kinds of leftists will never desert the cause that serves them so well, no matter how badly it serves others.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate