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01.10.1998
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Date end: 04.10.1998
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Protocol

1. Workshop

Neidökonomie

Envy is much older than any political system or any political ideology. Envy does not exist because socialism exists. Rather, socialism refers to and needs envy. Several theorists of socialism are even bold enough to develop a programme which promises to remove all reasons for feeling envious (in a classless society, for example).

All these steps may be well meant, but they are quite hopeless. Envy is not constrained to the have-nots and those set back and impoverished. Furthermore, socialism is not the only system that a political servicing of envy. The racists and nationalists of all colours also subscribe to these emotions. The socialists, however, take it as their call to build a troop of followers out of the existing resentment which of necessity is present in a pluralistic unconstrained society, and motivate them with promises of „more justice through more redistribution“. (All this was only too apparent in the latest German election.) Since these days everyone defines poverty in relative terms, such promises can by definition never be kept (unless there existed only one wage level for absolutely everyone).

The generally rising living standards always bring about various new frustrations to various groups. So here we have a situation where the bipolar world of the envious and the envied (with many possible overlappings) is supplemented by a third group – the bureaucrats and political redistributors who service the envy. Not only that, they make their living out of the unfeasible promises to smooth out or eliminate inequality which, they say, would remove the incentives to envy. What a lucrative and pleasant business this is indeed! Those that practise it believe that this is „social“.

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Mit Gleichmacherei gegen den Neid?
Gerhard Schwarz, NZZ, 06.03.1999
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Neidökonomie
05.04.2000
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