Prima precisazione (sul tipo di lezioni): lezioni etiche.
Seconda precisazione (sul tipo di cortile): il cortile in cui giocano i bambini.
Si impara molto scendendo in cortile a far giocare i bimbi, soprattutto in materia di tasse e “tassazione dei ricchi”.
I fatti sono immaginati, le storie inventate, i personaggi sognati, ma i modi di pensare, quelli sono autentici.
I am blessed with a child so precocious that at age five, when she was watching television and heard newly elected President announce his intention to increase the income tax, she immediately burst into tears. There never was a prouder father.
The tax package came wrapped in the usual rhetoric: “The rich have too much and the poor have too little”; “They have more than they deserve,” “It’s only fair,” and so forth, ad tedium.
From the fact that politicians supply such rhetoric, I infer that there are voters who demand it. Probably that’s because it helps them feel less guilty about living by the sweat of their neighbors’ brows. Better to pretend your neighbor deserves to be exploited than to admit you’ are just being acquisitive.
The key word here, though, is “pretend.” The fact of the matter is that nobody really believes the rhetoric of redistribution. You can use that rhetoric to fool some of the
people some of the time, and they might appreciate being fooled. But nobody believes it all of the time, and deep down nobody believes it even some of the time. Nobody even comes close to believing it deep down.
How do I know this? I know it because I have a daughter, and I take my daughter to the playground, and I listen to what the other parents tell their children. In my considerable
experience, I have never, ever, heard a parent say to a child that it’s okay to take toys away from other children who have more toys than you do. Nor have I ever heard a parent tell a child that if one kid has more toys than the others, then it’s okay for those others to form a “government” and vote to take those toys away.
We do, of course, encourage sharing, and we try to make our children feel ashamed when they are very selfish. But at the same time, we tell them that if another child is being selfish, you must cope with that in some way short of forcible expropriation…
These are not morally complex issues, no matter how much we try to pretend otherwise. Politicians and commentators make their livings by encouraging that pretense, but when we talk to our children the pretense falls away. No adult has any difficulty distinguishing between
good and bad behavior on the playground.
The lessons we teach our children reveal the truth that is in our hearts. If you want to know what a politician or a commentator really believes, look not to his speeches or his columns, but to the advice he gives his children. If you want to know whether a politician is behaving well or badly, ask how his behavior would be received in your family room.