I have written on the evil of Envy before and it is one of the seven deadly sins according to the Roman Catholic Church. Envy is when someone lacks another’s quality, achievements, or possessions and wished that the other lacked them also. Not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his envy, but they also wish to inflict misfortune on others. Envy is a malicious force in human society and is well worthy of being one of the seven deadly sins.
I have found that all sorts of collectivists, leftists and progressives are driven by envy and this makes them extraordinarily difficult to reason with since they are caught in an emotional state of mind that is resistant to all reason. It leads to all sorts of double standards, like the leftists who think a pop singer making 50 million a year is perfectly fine while hating a CEO for making even ten percent of that figure.
We see all sorts of left-wing political thought were the main idea is to level the wealth of everyone in society regardless of the individual’s contributions, talents, dedication, work ethic, or value to society. History says that any attempt to equalize income or wealth by governmental forced redistribution always ends up in destroying wealth as a consequence. Henry Hazlitt once passed on a great mid-eighteenth century quote from Samuel Johnson, “Your levellers wish to level down as far as themselves; but they cannot bear levelling up to themselves.” He also passed along the thoughts of left-wing US Supreme Court Justice Holmes who wrote “I have no respect for the passion for equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy.”
We have watched the entire communist experiment that was said to level the society from top to bottom so that all would be equal. Much like in Animal Farm, it was soon found that some were “more equal than others”. In country after county during the 20th century the evils of communism drove the people straight into poverty. The old USSR could not even produce a decent car and the people had a joke: “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work”.
The entire egalitarian movement, in all its forms, is based on envy. Mostly they are envious of those who have it better than themselves, regardless of the reason, but there are some who are well off and have a deep fear of envy in those less fortunate which they seek to appease: hence the American “limousine liberal”. But those who wish to appease envy don’t understand that no one is ever completely satisfied with their place in the world relative to other people, and trying to level the status of all to one thing is a fool’s errand at best. Concessions to envy merely whet the appetite for even more concessions.
There is a large divide between jealousy and envy. According to Helmut Schoek, in his book, Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour, the jealous man does not normally become a spontaneous, primary aggressor since the jealous man only seeks to protect what is rightfully his from the hands of those striving to take it; so a jealous man can be at peace when he is confident that he is not going to be looted or cheated by others. But the envious man expresses a much more hostile set of emotions and the envious man wants something that is not rightfully his. The envious man has a heart filled with spite and nothing will set his mind to rest. Not even the total destruction of the object of his envy can satisfy the envious man. The Roman Catholic Church and Helmut Schoek agreed that the jealous man wants to keep his own possession while the envious man wants the possessions that someone else rightfully owns.
It is envy or the fear of the envy in others that motivates the drive for redistribution of wealth and calls to loot the rich are always based on the evil of envy. Even a national income that is growing for practically everyone in the society will be deplored by the left because it is making the rich richer! But the leftists do not just emphasizes equality more than abundance; they seek to promote equality at the expense of abundance. This is one of the things that keep the poor in their condition since it is a rising total wealth of the society that makes it possible for all to do much better.
The actual effect of progressive income taxes, confiscatory inheritance taxes, sky-high property rates, and other confiscatory schemes by the state end up hurting the poor much more than the rich as it discourages the capital formation needed to fuel job formation and national productivity. The funds looted from the economy then go to fund the war-making machine, the CIA, NSA, and other agencies and programs that are an abomination to human rights and life. The looted wealth, besides funding wholesale murder, keep the productivity and job formation of the economy at a much lower rate than it would be otherwise and guess what … that always hurts the poor the most.
The long-run effect of these tax rates, regulations, redistribution policies, and other governmental interventions is to leave the working poor worse off than they would otherwise have been. The effect of the welfare state itself is the destruction of the family unit. So, we have the specter of the State yet again delivering misery while promising the opposite.