Robinhood Ethics

This is one of his best – Hot off the press!

I reckon that I’m insufficiently ‘progressive.’


10 March 2010

Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. Sanders:

You accuse Wall Street Journal editorialists of being hypocritical in supporting tax cuts while simultaneously opposing what you call your “modest proposal” to give “a $250 one-time payment [to] seniors struggling to cope with spiraling health-care costs” (Letters, March 10).

I’m tempted to make the consequentialist point that tax cuts are economically justified because they lower artificial obstacles to those who engage in productive activities and, thus, make nearly everyone, rich and poor, wealthier over time.

But I’d rather emphasize an ethical point, namely, taking from Peter that which belongs to Peter is not remotely comparable to giving to Paul that which belongs to Peter.  So it’s not at all hypocritical to oppose robbing Peter while also opposing the forcible transfer of some of Peter’s wealth to Paul.  Instead, it’s called consistency.  And in this case it’s also ethical.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030


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