I've written an open letter to Russell Brand in response to his calls for revolution. It appears today on EconomicPolicyJournal.com:
Dear Mr. Brand,
Let me start off by saying that I’m a huge fan. I haven’t seen your live show yet, but I’ve been really impressed by every one of your video appearances. You are brilliant, super sharp and I think have real empathy for people. I say this not to shower you with flattery but so you know that everything I say here comes from a place of genuine admiration and respect.
Like you, I am a non-voter, and for much the same reasons. I’ve written about that here. You say you want a revolution. I do too. But what you describe doesn’t sound very revolutionary to me.
In your interview with Jeremy Paxman, you advocate “...a socialist egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth.”
Whether you intend it or not, each of these things requires an authoritarian state to implement. Just ask yourself: How is this egalitarianism to be enforced? Who is to do the redistributing? What happens to someone who doesn’t want their wealth “redistributed”? What if somebody wants more than their neighbor has and is willing to work for it? And what if someone else is willing to hire them to work? Who is going to step in and prevent this exchange between consenting adults? And more importantly, how?
It is no accident of history that the socialist experiments of the 20th century ended in brutal tyranny and mass starvation. Both are inherent in an ideology of enforced egalitarianism, and both were entirely predictable (in fact, the failure of socialism was predicted, by economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, in the 1920s.)
To call for “redistribution of wealth” is also to misunderstand what an economy is. An economy is not a static, unchanging quantity of resources to be divided in some manner among the people who participate in it. An economy is a living, changing, growing organism. It is not a pie to be sliced up and distributed, but is more like a bakery that makes pies. When you give someone the authority to take those pies from the people who made them, to “distribute” them to others as they believe is right or just, you take away the bakers’ incentive to produce more pies. Production stops, and people starve. This is precisely what happened in the Soviet Union, China, and other countries where people were not allowed to profit from what they produced.
You say that “... profit is a filthy word because whenever there is profit there is also deficit.” No, there is not. You have badly misunderstood how economies work. I wouldn’t be so picky about this except that this particular misunderstanding has already led to so much poverty and misery in the world.
You can read the rest here.