A downward spiral destructive of civic virtue

Monday August 21, 2017

From page 166 of Flynn's What is intelligence?:

Competition for possessions without a rationally imposed limit engenders pessimism about acceptance of the restraints necessary to avoid ecological disaster.

Competition for possessions also creates a downward spiral destructive of civic virtue. Those who wish to maximize their economic status are reluctant to pay taxes and this diminishes state provision of health, education, and security against misfortune. As the quality of state provision declines, it becomes imperative to maximize private wealth for reasons of security even if status seeking is set aside. Even principled socialists will pay fees to jump the queue for medical care and to get education for their children in schools that are not a test of physical survival. The more that is true, the more you resent any dollar leaving your pocket in tax, so public provision drops further, so willingness to be taxed drops further, and so forth. Indeed, since only a few can amass the fortune needed to provide self-security, no amount of money you can realistically hope to acquire is enough.

I think this passage touches a lot of modern debates.