Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Oligarchicide—The Far Left Attack On Wealth

Morehead-Cain Foundation
Duke Medical Center










(first published in North State Journal 2/13/19)

After the Peloponnesian War, the Spartans dismantled the Athenian democracy and replaced it with a group of wealthy oligarchs called the Thirty Tyrants.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her colleagues in the current Socialist Democratic Party of America must think our Founders replaced a monarchy with Oligarchs 230 years ago.

In the view of many in the rapidly-drifting-to-the-extreme-far-left-socialist Democratic Party, our country is run by wealthy people who are “immoral” simply because they have wealth and others do not.

They think we would be better off without any wealthy people. “Oligarchicide” it would be called if we got rid of them all.

How “immoral” can wealthy people be?

  • James Buchanan Duke built an international tobacco empire in Durham. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians were employed over the past century either in the tobacco-growing industry or in manufacturing centers around the state. The Dukes started Duke Power, now Duke Energy, which is the largest energy company in America today.

    With his wealth, he and the Duke family endowed Duke University which spawned the internationally-acclaimed Duke Medical Center and something called “Krzyzewskiville”. They established the Duke Endowment which funds Davidson College, Furman and Johnson C. Smith University and a myriad of charitable organizations across the Carolinas.

  • John Motley Morehead III studied chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. He started the Union Carbide Company after figuring out a way to manufacture acetylene gas for industrial use. Not only have tens of thousands of people worked at Union Carbide over the past century, he gave much of his wealth to start the Morehead Foundation at Chapel Hill, endowed the Morehead (now Morehead-Cain) Scholarship program and built the Morehead Planetarium and various other buildings on campus for everyone to use.

Had both Mr. Duke and Mr. Morehead been George Bailey and been granted a wish to see what life would have been like in North Carolina had they never been born, they would have seen a rural state that would have been far poorer, less educated and unhealthier longer than it was.

Both men had a “gift” for business just as a doctor has a gift to help people get well, a respected judge has a gift of distributing justice fairly or Zion Williamson has the gift of slam-dunking for the Duke Blue Devils.

All gifted people who do well make us all better off in the long-run by doing what they do well.
John Antonio Pascarella, Hayek Visiting Scholar at the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism calls such a gift for business the “Money-Making Art”:
“The Greek word usually translated as "business" is chrēmatistikē (money-making art). The art of chrēmata could be translated as "money," or "property," but literally means "useful things". That would mean the money-making art should more properly be understood as “the art of useful things”.  
This fits the Greek root of the word — chrē — which means "use or need."  That would be the clearest way to understand the natural root of money-making, which for Aristotle is a limited part of what we broadly call "economics."

James B. Duke and John Motley Morehead did not know they would one day be fabulously wealthy as a result of their vision, hard work and determination. No one does. No one would go through all the trials and frustrations of starting and running a business if they thought they would be subject to the heavy-handed coercive force of government under control of socialists such as AOC who would confiscate the fruits of their ingenuity and invention to the tune of 70% or more.

The extremism of today’s left-wing socialist Democrats should be roundly derided by sound-thinking Democrats, Independents and Republicans everywhere. What they want is not American at all in terms of philosophy, practicality or ethos.


The confiscatory nature of their proposals would be truly tyrannical in practice.

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