Fantasies from the 1970s

Trying hard to be witty, (letter-writer) Keith Kleinsteuber falls into easily recognizable cliches from the class war of the 1970s.

For example, he conjures up vague, unidentified “capital interests” who, in best 1970s fantasy, have “manipulated” retirement funding.

In fact, pension fund managers, whose names we hardly hear, are not capitalists at all. They work for salary. They are only managers and merely investors, not owners.

From the weird world of the 1970s, Kleinsteuber imagines that his unidentified “those” somehow “create their wealth with capital appropriated from the public.”

Appropriated? There’s a hackneyed cliche from the 1970s class warfare.

Jimmy Pattison no more “appropriated” wealth than does the man who owns a small restaurant. Both men offer goods to the public, which then freely decides whether to choose.

If wealth could simply be “appropriated,” why aren’t we all doing it? Kleinsteuber makes it sound so easy. You just appropriate. Why didn’t American Motors simply appropriate wealth? The answer is that it couldn’t. Instead, what used to be the fourth largest automobile manufacturer in America collapsed completely by 1981, leaving behind only rusty Ramblers.

Kleinsteuber naively repeats an old theory of 1970s radicals when he fancies that “all business set their own incomes to the highest levels possible.” Oh, so that’s all it takes! You just “set” your income like setting an oven or setting your watch. Business must be easy: just “set.”

An economist like the late John Kenneth Galbraith noted how empty and untestable is the cliche “highest levels possible.”

Here is the old myth of “maximizing profits.” How will anybody, including Kleinsteuber, really and truly know when incomes are at “the highest possible”?

It is impossible to determine whether they have been absolutely maximized.

Kleinsteuber asks, rhetorically, why we don’t take up “a sustainable economy.” In 2010, Daniel Bonevac of the University of Texas examined the vast literature on so-called “sustainablility.” Professor Bonevac discovered a dozen different definitions.

Greg Lanning