Thursday, July 28, 2011

Form and substance in North Korea

The discussion in the last post reminded me of this video from Vice Guide to North Korea. (Some music and singing heard in the video, but sound is not really important; so, if you’re makpid on music in videos, you can just turn off the sound; some female dancing, but level of the detail is minimal). The actual ikkar starts at 1:30:

Basically, the connection to the last post is that you could imagine this huge "TV" made of LCD "pixels" (each pixel a few feet wide and tall), or neon signs, or people holding cards of different colors. As long as the dynamics of the people changing cards is the same as that of pixels changing colors, the effect should be same. So, the chomer of the process — who is holding the card — is not important, only the tzurah (the relationship between the rectangles and the color of each rectangle).

On a related note, that’s also the way socialists view the society: as long as the "function" of a particular element of the society is played, the contents of that element are not important. Of course, the function is defined by the Central Headquarters. For instance, from the point of view of Mr. Bernanke, the function of the rich people in this country is to serve as a form of savings account. When things get tough in the economy (or when the government is running out of money), we can always tap into the savings account.

Of course, from some conservatives’ point of view, it’s not too different. The “rich people” are also seen as playing a particular role. It’s just that conservatives know more about economics than the liberals. They realize that the rich people’s “function” in the society is to direct investment of capital into different businesses.

That’s why they’ve become rich — because they were successful in investing the capital in the projects that the public deemed worthwhile, voting for them with its money (for instance, Bill Gates became rich by investing into Windows OS; enough people voted with their money for this product being useful for them by buying it; as a result, Bill Gates became rich). This is also the reason why they need to continue to hold on to that money: they need to be able to use the capital to invest into new projects, or change the nature of the old projects, responding to (or anticipating) the changes in the public’s needs.

So, that is why it’s a bad idea to tax them whenever things become tough in the economy: it’s almost exactly equivalent to bleeding a patient when he is trying to fight an infection. (Perhaps a better example would be to pump the blood from his heart and direct it into his urinary bladder. What happens to that blood is what happens to the money that the government takes from the public in taxes.)

But from libertarians’ point of view, taxing the rich is wrong because it’s poshut immoral to take money from people to pay for the services which they a) don’t benefit from, b) didn’t agree to pay for. Doesn’t matter whether they are rich (and “can afford it”) or poor. (Ironically, because taxing the rich hurts the economy, it’s the poor people who suffer the most. So, yes, rich people can afford to live through the liberals’ “management” of the society; the poor cannot.)

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