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Is America Becoming a 'Spoils Society'?

"The "spoils society" . . . de-emphasizes production and fuels conflict. Here's why.

"There are two ways to become richer. One is to provide more goods and services; that's economic growth. The other is to snatch someone else's wealth or income; that's the spoils society. In a spoils society, economic success increasingly depends on who wins countless distributional contests: not who creates wealth but who controls it. But this can be contentious. Winners celebrate; losers fume.

"Of course, the two systems have long coexisted -- and always will. All modern societies chase growth; all redistribute income and wealth. Some shuffling is visible and popular. Until now, that's been the case with America's largest transfer, which is from workers to retirees through Social Security and Medicare. In 2012, this exceeded $1 trillion. Still, for the nation, the relevant question is whether productive behavior (generating economic growth) is losing ground to predatory behavior (grabbing existing wealth and income). There are good reasons to think it is."

~ Robert Samuelson

HT His September 30, 2013 column at RealClearPolitics.com


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