"When the majority divide among them the property of the minority (i.e. those possessing greater wealth), is this just? Is it not evident that this process, when repeated time after time, must ultimately result in the ruin of the state" (Aristotle, 350 B.C.).

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The grand old philosopher's thesis has since proven true many times and in many places, e.g. the "free corn" policy preceding the fall of the Roman empire; the collapse of forced egalitarianism in Russia, China, India and elsewhere; Argentina's welfare state (yielding a 5,000 percent inflation rate in 1989); European socialism, now teetering on the verge of economic collapse; the guillotine of debt hanging over the heads of America's taxpayers; etc.

The government will take "from each according to his ability" to produce wealth, and "redistribute" that wealth "to each according to his need." This very old idea too often expands beyond the means of the state, becoming a facade for purchasing votes. But whether we label this concept as communism, European socialism or social justice, we are essentially speaking of the same pig — different lipstick — feeding at the trough of a failed philosophy.

Frank Gardner