Stealing America – rich capitalists – or envious progressives?

Dinesh D’Souza wrote a book called Stealing America in which he applies the lessons he learns being imprisoned with hard core criminals to the progressives who he says are stealing the wealth of America. This sounded wrong to me right off the bat, because I looked at the left as misguided utopians. But Dinesh’s book is worth reading, whether you end up agreeing with him or not. He starts off saying that :

The founders recognized that every system of government is vulnerable to theft. In monarchies, the king has the power to steal from the people. In aristocracies, the aristocrats have the power to steal from the people. And in democracies, the majority has the power to steal from the rest of the people..

He says that to create an anti-theft society, the founders wrote the constitution, which enumerated what the government could do, giving it no authority to do anything else.
He says the progressives talk often about the greed of capitalists, but

the greed and selfishness is not in capitalism; it is in human nature. Capitalism takes human nature as it is, and seeks to channel it in a way that serves fairness and decency. One may say that capitalism civilizes greed in much the same way that marriage civilizes lust.

Progressives believe in taking from those who have more, to help those who have less. Dinesh also saw examples of this mindset among the criminals he spoke to.

Consider the case of Hero, a South Side Mexican who beat and robbed an old African American woman. I learned about the incident in the confinement center from one of his fellow gang members, Sancho…
“We called the woman Mabs,” Sancho told me. “She had lived in the neighborhood from the time we were kids. We didn’t talk to her, because Mexicans don’t like to talk to black people, but everyone recognized her, because she was bent over, you know, and walked with a cane and a little dog…
Apparently Hero, one of the young punks in the Forty-Fifth Street gang, decided to jump Mabs and take her money….It wasn’t as easy as one might expect. The woman put up quite a fight, whopping the guy with her cane and even biting him. Still what can an elderly woman do against a strapping young man..she ended up unconscious in the street while the punk made off with her ring and a paltry sum of money.
When word got our in the gang about what happened, Sancho said, “Everyone felt bad. We didn’t know this woman, but we thought it was pretty f*cked-up to go after a person who had even less, you know, than we did.

On the other hand, this same gang had no problem with Hero when he

beat the sh*t out of this Asian store owner. The wife and son showed up, so he beat the sh*t out of them. Then he cleaned out the place. I think he got nearly two grand from that job. We were like f*ckin A!

Dinesh says that”in their [the gang’s] mind, it is fundamentally unfair for someone to have more than they do. Therefore it is perfectly fair to rob them. The same principle, it seems applies to modern progressivism.”

As far as crooked progressive politicians, Dinesh goes after a woman who may well be our next president.  He says the

Clinton foundation has raised more than $2 billion in contributions. A substantial portion of that came from foreign governments…The foundation, although ostensibly a charitable enterprise, gives only one dollar out of ten to charity.

Good things happened to donors to the Clinton foundation. To take just one example:

Mining tycoon Stephen Dattels in 2009 donated two million shares of stock in his company to the Clinton Foundation. Two months later, with the support of the U.S. government, including one Hillary Clinton, the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh pressured that nation to reauthorize a mining permit that benefited Dattel’s company. The Clinton Foundation never disclosed Dattels’s donation.

Two of the other examples he cites (from Peter Schweizer’s book, Clinton Cash) are worse, because they affected U.S. national security.

Hillary Clinton wrote her thesis on Saul Alinsky, an activist she admired who used clever methods to achieve “social justice”.

One stunt was to have thousands of activists walk into banks and open up accounts of one dollar each, in effect paralyzing the bank’s normal operations. This became the model for a number of leftist groups that took up the cause of bank intimidation, notably an Alinskyite organization called ACORN. Supposedly banks were discriminating against poor and minority home loan applicants. Even though such applicants had less wealth, less income, and less reliable credit histories, these groups insisted that banks should lower their lending standards to accommodate them. According to these activists, home ownership was a “right”…

Hillary helped to raise money for ACORN. So what did the noble acts of the organization lead to?  The lowering of previously strict lending standards played a large part in the housing bubble and collapse that caused so much financial damage to America, and helped discredit the Republican government at the time, leading disgusted voters to vote for Barack Obama (who was also associated with ACORN). Quite ironic.

Alinsky recalls that from his earliest years he disliked rules and had little respect for other people’s property. “..I was the kind of kid who’d never dream of walking on the grass until I’d see a sign, “KEEP OFF THE GRASS,” and then I’d stomp all over it.”
At sixteen, Alinsky moved out of the house and in his words, “was shackin’ up with some old broad of twenty-two.” On the slum streets he learned the art of petty thievery..
He got into the University of Chicago, and proposed to his professors a unique project: an in-depth study of Chicago’s criminal gangs. He managed to befriend the gang of Al Capone, and says “I was a nonparticipating observer in their professional activities, although I joined their social life of food, drink and women. Boy, I sure participated in that side of things, it was heaven.”

alinskyUnfortunately for the rest of us, according to D’Souza, Alinsky realized that politics was the answer to his desire “to emulate the Mob’s shakedown operations without getting killed.” He used lessons from his criminology experiences to launch shakedowns of various companies, and he taught his techniques to other activists.

Alinsky does not says his motives were thievery or envy.  He said the real enemies (of the middle class) are the “corporate power elite that runs and ruins this country.”
Dinesh does not buy this motive. He asks “What has this corporate power elite done that is so reprehensible? For Alinsky, this is the wrong question.. The real question is a very simple one: who has the money?”

Dinesh grew up in India, which he says is getting better, but “crime and corruption reach into the highest echelons of government…and truth be told, the rest of the population is pretty much implicated, because its hard to get by without participating in at least some types of illicit and corrupt activity.”
He talks of a fellow who was elected to be a governmental minister;

he had a long criminal record, and had in fact conducted his election campaign from prison. I was so shocked that I called my uncle, ..who has worked closely with the Indian police force, to explain what was going on…[The Uncle replied] “there are close connections between politicians and gangsters. In this country, most people go into politics for one purpose–to loot the people.” The Uncle also told Dinesh  about a minister who was involved in a hit and run – he was drunk, and killed four slum dwellers. No witnesses dared come forward. The case was dropped.
“And the minister is still in office, giving speeches about the plight of the poor and sharing the wealth and social injustice.”

Barack Obama famously said “You didn’t build that” – implying that entrepreneurs are not responsible for their success – rather society is since society provided them with the support system for their success, including roads, communications, safety, etc. Relevant to that, Dinesh says of criminals

if your success is all due to luck, then I have every right to take your stuff, because I’m not depriving you of something to which you are justly entitled. This is the justification for criminal activity; it is also the justification for …wealth redistribution.

Dinesh believes that the rhetoric of the progressives is a con. He says they are motivated by envy, and try to recruit alienated, envious groups in society.

Of course its hard to step inside someone else’s mind. A progressive would deny a desire to pull down the successful, simply because they are successful.

Various studies have been done on what makes leftists different (see The Atlantic article in sources). Supposedly, leftists just perceive the world differently. But D’Souza believes there is an element of dishonesty – a kind of thinking that is similar to the rationalizations of criminals.
Whether he is correct or not, a search for justice where misfortune is confused with injustice, can lead to outcomes that concentrate power in the hands of the supposed do-gooders, and reduce the freedom of the individual.

Dinesh D’Souza

Stealing America: Dinesh D’Souza (2015)
Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer (2015)
The Quest For Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell (2002)


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