Does the rising tide still lift all boats?

Channel News Asia (CNA) sent an email titled “Making sense in a world of flux”. The phrase “redistribution of wealth” caught my eye.

I followed the link to this article titled “Greater social spending and redistribution rest on economic growth and government prudence”.

Reading the article, this paragraph caught my eye:

I wonder what “A rising tide lifts all boats” means to the average person. To me, it means deliberately maintaining equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. If you are willing to be industrious, be diligent and willing to work hard to raise value in whatever sector you happen to be in, such as logistics, in order that others might avail themselves of your ongoing production to work as hard or harder to produce even greater value, then you will welcome all “rising tides”. All rising tides have different high-water marks, do they not? Also, since when did low tides seem to imply economic decline? Yes, there will be recessions, depressions, stresses to the economy and so on if you wish to follow a capitalist-style system of running your economy, but it is still overall the best and most humane way of managing human covetousness. Yes, some will make more money than others, and this has been the human condition since the Fall of Man, when economics came into being. Therefore, how is it that we are continually beating our collective breasts over “inequality”? In a world where we continually need to study the best ways of the production and distribution of scarce resources which have alternative uses, there will always be inequality. Over and over again, the best way to do that is for governments to ensure national and regional security and maintain infrastructure which will encourage the free market to do its work, which is to raise the overall level of productivity leading to prosperity and well-being. “Redistribution” takes away the incentives to excel in one’s business or vocation, since when one realizes that no matter how industrious or innovative he is, he is working for others who get rewarded with the fruits of his labour, not their own.

I always point people back to Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman, etc, and with good reason. Freedom comes with a price. Part of that price is paid by being willing to let the free market work. It is putting in the huge effort required to offer incentives which ensure that even the wrong people end up doing the right things. I agree that this is extremely difficult, and even Milton Friedman has said that a genuine free market economy does not exist. I was looking for parts of Thomas Sowell’s works that have “Rising tide lifts all boats” and came across this article written in 2005. The image is linked to the article itself.

The article is titled “Civil Rights, Rites”, which should explain clearly its theme. Let the cure be not worse than the disease! I would ask that whoever reads this post also commence studying the works of Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman, Walter Williams and so on, with a view to understanding why maintaining a free market is nearly impossible – becuse it nearly is! Just because it is nearly impossible, does that mean we do not even attempt to do so? Well, I suggest looking at the alternatives. Looking at the evidence of actual results, not verbal virtuousity like “The free market has run its course”.

If you want your boat to be lifted with the rising tide along with all other boats, make sure your own boat is in good repair. You can always get a bigger boat, it is true, but it is also true that, in the words of Alan Weiss “TIAABB – There is always a bigger boat”. Don’t ask for a piece of that bigger boat – increase your value, sell off your current boat and buy another one for yourself.

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