Saturday, May 30, 2009
When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone
I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars
Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me...
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
How one carries on in the face of unavoidable catastrophe is a matter of temperament. In high school, as was custom, I had chosen a verse by Virgil to be my motto: Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito. Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it. I recalled these words during the darkest hours of the war. Again and again I had met with situations from which rational deliberation found no means of escape; but then the unexpected intervened, and with it came salvation. I would not lose courage even now. I wanted to do everything an economist could do. I would not tire in saying what I knew to be true. +
On the unhampered market there prevails an irresistible tendency to employ every factor of production for the best possible satisfaction of the most urgent needs of the consumers. If the government interferes with this process, it can only impair satisfaction; it can never improve it. +Ludwig von Mises, 1881-1973
The response to my recent blogs on capitalism has been amazing. With each post the email flew in. What’s more, these notes were not one or two sentences of approbation or disagreement but were, for the most part, well thought out queries and observations.
One of the most frequent requests was for reading recommendations. The book I usually suggested was Ludwig von Mises’ The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality. It is succinct (about 130 pages), very readable and, while written in 1956, very relevant to our present contemporary economic crisis.
Here is just one passage:
The fundamental dogma of this creed (he is writing about progressivism) declares that property is an outcome of iniquitous social institutions. The original sin that deprived mankind of the blissful life in the Garden of Eden was the establishment of private property and enterprise. Capitalism serves only the selfish interest of rugged exploiters. It dooms the masses of righteous men to progressing impoverish- ment and degradation. What is needed to make all people prosperous is the taming of the greedy exploiters by the great god called State. The “service” motive must be substituted for the “profit” motive. (MEW: You’d think he was reading today’s headlines!) Fortunately, they say, no intrigues and no brutality on the part of the infernal “economic royalists” can quell the reform movement. The coming of an age of central planning is inevitable. Then there will be plenty and abundance for all. Those eager to accelerate this great transformation call themselves progressives precisely because they pretend that they are working for the realization of what is both desirable and in accordance with the inexorable laws of historic evolution.
From the point of view of these dogmas the progressives advocate certain policies which, as they pretend, could alleviate immediately the lot of the suffering masses they recommend, e.g., credit expansion and increasing the amount of money in circulation, minimum wage rates to be decreed and enforced either by the government or by labor union pressure and violence, control of commodity prices and rents and other interventionist measures. But the economists have demonstrated that all such nostrums fail to bring about those results which their advocates want to attain. Their outcome is, from the very point of view of those recommending them and resorting to their execution, even more unsatisfactory than the previous state of affairs they were deigned to alter. Credit expansion results in the recurrence of economic crisis and periods of depression. Inflation makes the prices of all commodities and services soar. The attempt to enforce wage rates higher than those the unhampered market have determined produce mass unemployment prolonged year after year. Price ceilings result in a drop in the commodities affected. The economists have proved these theorems in an irrefutable way. No “progressive” pseudo-economist ever tried to refute them.
The essential charge brought by the progressives against capitalism is that the recurrence of crisis and depressions and mass unemployment are its inherent features. The demonstration that these phenomena are, on the contrary, the result of the interventionist attempts to regulate capitalism and to improve the conditions of the common man give the progressive ideology the finishing stroke. As the progressives are not in a position to advance any tenable objection to the teachings of the economists, they try to conceal them from the people and especially from the intellectuals and the university students. Pages 59-61
If you want to be armed and ready to debate those who want to trash our God-given freedoms (unalienable rights), if you want rational arguments in response to those who appear to be taking the moral high ground by speaking of “compassion” and “justice,” and if you’d like to get to the heart of anti-capitalist bias that is exploding across the US, this book by Mises is a great place to start.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Six days shall you labor.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
Man stands for long time with mouth open before roast duck flies in.
Any person who tells you that success and prosperity will fall into your lap if you only “believe” or “envision” or “confess” is a Mountebank—a seller of snake oil, a charlatan, a con. Industriousness has always been one of the keys to the doors to success, achievement and prosperity.
It never ceases to amaze me that people continually look for avenues of effortless success. Sadly, all you have to do is go to your local bookstore and you will find scores of books written by charlatans—both secular and religious—who are ready to tell their readers what they want to hear. “You too can be rich. Just believe these magical formulas and, Voila, wealth will come your way!” The only one who gets wealthy here, however, is the con writing the book.
This is Solomon’s take on effortlessness: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come in like a bandit, and scarcity like an armed man. (Proverbs 6.10,11)
Faith in God, faith in the direction you are headed, and faith in your ability to realize your dreams are all critical to success. However, real faith, genuine faith, propels the person of faith to work.
St Paul: Because of God’s love, favor and power, I can sit back and just let his blessings overtake me.
Is that what he said?? No, he said that because of God’s grace he labored more than anyone else.
Go study the lives of the mega-successful and one of the things you will see written in every biography is how hard and long each of them worked for their success. In fact, in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success, he calculates that it took a minimum of 10,000 hours of labor before the skill set was mastered and world-class expertise was achieved.
Gladwell, quoting neurologist Daniel Levitin:
“The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one yet found a case in which true world-class expertise as accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”
As Levitin noted, hard work alone does not always lead to success. If I am working hard in a dying industry, if I do not consistently “work” my network of relationships, if I am not intellectually or physiologically fit to compete in the arena of achievement I have chosen, all the hard work I can muster will only lead to minimal success. At Best. However, there will be no success without very hard work over a long period of time.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
At age 9, he was a soloist at the Sistine Chapel
At age 13, he débuts in the role of the Pastorello in "Tosca" at the Opera House in Rome where he meets Luciano Pavarotti, who congratulates him praising his vocal and expressive talent.
At age 23, he débuts at the La Scala Theatre in Milan. I believe he was the youngest tenor to ever have been given that honor.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
For many people, one of the more frustrating aspects of a free market economy is what the masses find valuable.
“Why in the world would anyone prefer reading Brown’s The Da Vinci Code over Shakespeare’s Macbeth? What’s up with that?” (Or vice versa)
“Why is Peyton Manning (or his offensive linemen, for that matter) paid far more than school teachers?”
"Why does Gisele make over 30 million a year while nurses only earn around 45,000?"
“Why do so many Americans prefer big cars and SUVs to compacts?”
In a free market economy, the largest profits go to the people who satisfy the desires of the masses. The market does not make a formal or academic declaration of “true merit.” Success is not based on what people should want, but upon what they demonstrably do want.
If I choose to be a philosopher, I am choosing a profession that has a very narrow market. Yes, philosophy is important because “ideas have consequences.” However, as the masses prefer the bon mots of Oprah Winfrey to the wisdom of Aristotle, she makes billions while the average philosophy professor makes less than 100k annually … with much of that going to pay off Sallie Mae. All we can learn from a free market economy is what the masses have declared to be valuable, not what is “truly,” “justly,” “rightfully” or “eternally” valuable.
If I differ with my fellow consumers on their tastes and preferences, I am free to say so, free to engage them in debate, and free to go in a different direction. I am NOT free, however, to force them to make other choices.
In the USA, the market place is a democracy where, every day, people cast their votes for the entrepreneurs and businesses which best meets the consumers perceived needs. I am free to compete for these votes, of course, by engaging in any ethical endeavor I choose. I am free to be a philosophy professor, and free to choose sports as my arena of achievement. Well … I should say that I am free within the constraints of my intellect and physiology! However, when it comes to the potential rewards for making my choice, I must be clear as to the size of the market where I am going to compete.
There is no question that the masses of consumers often demonstrate a lack of taste or education [cue nose in air]: how else can you explain the mega success of NASCAR compared to that of your city’s symphony? Just kidding. The point is that we all have shaken our heads in bewilderment over what our fellow citizen-consumers have decided best meets their needs. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this response, as long as we do not begin demanding that people submit to our litmus test for what is “most valuable.”
Once we go down this road, once we begin demanding that consumers only purchase what we deem valuable at the price we decide is “fair,” we are choosing slavery over freedom. How so? Because the only way to enforce our litmus test is via the force of laws enacted by our nation’s governments.
In a free market economy, no guns are to be held to your head demanding you purchase a particular product at a specific price. However, when the government enters the market place, it introduces force (laws backed up by police], which always ends up screwing around with our freedoms.
One particular forceful means that the government uses for controlling choices is adding higher taxes for products the elitists in D.C. decide are not healthy (cigars) or safe (SUVs) … which always intrigues me. Why not just outlaw the despicable product?
Speaking of SUVs: The Feds demand that the Big Three in Detroit build tiny little coffins on wheels that get 50 miles to the gallon: “You know, like Toyota does … and they are soooo cheap that Toyota doesn’t even make a profit on them!” Right. What it does to subsidize the coffins is sell gas-guzzling trucks for its customers all across Asia -- for which it makes a boatload of money. Anyway--
The arena of achievement is not only where products and services compete for sales, it is also where ideas compete. Whether it is through public relations, advertizing, case studies published in appropriate magazines or journals, or lively televised debate, every moment of every day someone is seeking to convince potential buyers that their product is superior to all other choices. This is how a free market operates: the force of argument, not the force of law.
If I want more people to pay to hear my city’s symphony the answer is never force. The answer is advertizing, creative marketing, public relations, possibly a more highly skilled conductor, and so forth. Any kind of force will only restrict freedom of choice, and that hurts us all.
Or so I believe …
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Freedom is the oxygen of the soul.Moshe Dayan, 1915-1981
The other day I received an email from a longtime reader of my blog inquiring as to why I had changed the focus of my writings from human development to economics. The fact is that the two subjects are interdependent. I believe the greatest opportunities for individuals to maximize their potential for success in every area of life, are found in a society where people are truly free.
Free to speak your mind
Free to associate with whomever you wish
Free to worship, or not
Free from unjust coercion, restraint or duress by the government
Free to reap what you have sown; free to succeed and free to fail
Free to choose your path
Free to experiment with your ideas and talents
Free to trade with whom you wish
Free to make as much money as you are able
I am not speaking of unlimited freedom—otherwise known as anarchy—but, rather, about freedom within an organized society. Certainly we need just laws that restrain infringements upon our freedoms. Here, “freedom” is in contradistinction to “license.”
[Warning: Super-long Sentence!] Within the boundaries of our social contract, we are free to act, free to choose one path and not another, free to organize our lives our way and not his, her, theirs or its way, free to pursuit the Good Life (happiness) as we believe it should be sought after, free to create, free to live by the light of our faith, free to disagree with the Powers That Be … freedom, freedom, freedom and more freedoms, all affording each of us optimal opportunities for becoming the individual God called us to be, and for achieving all that we can with the gifts, capacities, talents and opportunities with which he has graced us. [Whew ... you can take a breath, now.]
In the Memoirs of Matthew regarding the life of Christ, he writes about a parable told by Jesus regarding a man who went off on an extended journey. (Matthew 25) Before taking off, the man calls his servants together and gave each of them some money. One servant received $5,000, another $2,000, and a third was given $1,000.
After a long time the man returns, calls the three servants and asks about the return on his investment. (ROI) The man who received $5,000 doubled his master’s investment. His master was so pleased with his ROI that he told this servant that, from then on, they would be partners. The man who received $2,000 had also doubled his master’s investment and, therefore, was also promoted to being a partner.
The man who was given $1,000, however, fearing that any investment carried with it an inherent risk, decided to bury the money so that he would still have it when his master returned. The master, not being impressed with the guy’s risk-aversion, told him that, at the very least, he should have invested in a bank CD or in the money market so that there would have at least been a minimal ROI. The master then took the man’s $1,000, gave it to the man who had risked the most, and then fired the fearful, miserly servant.
The moral of the story? The God who gave you your gifts, talents, capacities and opportunities expects a ROI. Only in a free market economy do you have optimal opportunity for doing just this.
Anyone who interferes with your stewardship, anyone who restricts the freedoms required to be a good steward or robs you of the rewards of your stewardship, is interfering with that stewardship … infringing upon what our founding fathers referred to as your God given unalienable rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Unalienable rights are something with which each of you was born. These rights are not subject to traditions, or customs or to the beliefs of other people or of a particular society. They are fundamental rights that cannot be taken away. They can be given away, however, buried in the ground, as it were. But look where that got the servant who did this: fired and cast into darkness.
It is telling that Jesus used money as a means for conveying his message. There is nothing here about giving all your money to the poor, and nothing about sacrificing your wealth for the good of society and being rewarded in heaven. On the contrary, the two men who doubled their master's money were rewarded in-this-life, while the man with no ROI on his bosses money, is fired.
Money is a symbol of productivity. Money represents your labor, your talents, your skills, your time, your faith and faithfulness, and your aptitude for decision-making. In a free society, where men and women of good will exchange their best efforts in mutual self-interest, your wealth is based on the degree of your productivity, how well you managed your resources, and upon the value of what you have to offer to your fellow consumers.
Money is based on the premise that you are the owner-steward of your mind and of your effort.
In a free society, we do not exchange our needs for someone else’s values: we exchange value for value. My needs, my sufferings, however great, are not a value. If I want to make money, if I want to be the servant who became a partner in Christ’s parable of the talents, I must produce. I do this with my brains, my skills, and my labor.
Of course, nothing I am writing here is to suggest I believe that where you spend eternity is based on your net worth. Christ’s parable does, however, reveal that God evaluates how each of us used the gifts, talents and opportunities he gave us and rewards us accordingly.
Why is a free market so important? Because it is the only morally sound economic system.
Capitalism respects your right of ownership. “You shall not steal,” says God. Socialism, believing in its own omniscience and omnipotence, does not regard this law as having any application to the State.
Capitalism respects your individuality, your personhood: what our founding fathers referred to as your unalienable rights. Socialists only respect the will of the State, the will of the ruling elites. As they see it, life and death (both literally and metaphorically) are not solely in the hands of God, but, rather, are in the hands of the State.
Capitalism allows you to enjoy the rewards of your labor, as well as to learn from your failures. Socialism decides who best deserves the rewards you’ve earned, and whether or not you will be allowed to succeed or fail.
Capitalism and capitalism alone grants each individual the greatest degree of freedom for achieving exceptionalism. Socialism is always at war with individual exceptionalism, preferring to sacrifice individual achievement to the good of the collective.
Capitalism allows you to make as much money as possible for your own sake, for your family’s sake, for God’s sake. (Matthew 25)
In brief, the reason I am writing about free markets is because I believe that Human Rights and Property Rights go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. This is why I refer to Capitalism as the only morally sound economic system: because it respects the property rights of the individual, thereby acknowledging his or hers God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I own that I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.
Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them
The issue is always the same: the government or the market. There is no third solution. Ludwig Von Mises, economist, 1881-1973
Definitions of competing –isms:
Socialism: government control of the means of production
Communism: government control of the means of production. Yes, there are differences between Socialism and Communism but not when it comes to who controls the means of production.
Capitalism: private control of the means of production
Interventionism: so-called compromise between socialism and capitalism, ostensibly taking the best from each of these economic systems. Capitalism and socialism are contradictory systems, both in combat with the other.
“Interventionism” is a misnomer used as a kind of verbal slight-of-hand by proponents of socialism. Karl Marx wrote in his Communist Manifesto that, while interventionism was a necessary step toward total government control of the means of production, it was, in fact, “untenable.” He was correct.
Once government becomes involved in managing any portion of the nation’s economy, it does not withdraw: it only increases its reach. All this talk by politicians about exit strategies and such is only believed by the naïve and the uneducated. As George Will notes in his essay, Upside-Down Economy, to believe that the government will retreat from the marketplace requires that we underestimate “the pleasure politicians derive from using their nation's wealth as a slush fund for purchasing political advantage.”
In a free market economy, the government’s function is limited to keeping force and fraud out of the market place. They are police. Period. An interventionist government replaces the consumer, who is King of the free market, with the elites in D.C.
The historical reality is that each time the government chooses to manage a particular industry, it always operates at a loss. While an entrepreneur can only operate at a loss for a relatively short time, the government can do so indefinitely because it can print money and raise taxes. Given this track record, it baffles the mind as to why so many citizen-consumers would vote for politicians advocating policies that always leaves the nation with more debt, less efficiency and productivity in the affected markets, and that lead to diminished freedoms. “Evidence” and the laws of logic do not seem to matter one bit to these people. Why?
As I have already written in previous posts, there is the destructive nature of envy, the arrogance of the elitists, the preference for security over freedom in so many of our fellow citizens, and the desire of these same people for a savior. The latter, I believe, should not be overlooked.
Whenever I engage in debate with advocates of socialism and its twin, interventionism, I have noticed that these people more often than not refuse to discuss history or the science of economics. It is like speaking with a member of a cult: their sole defense is a mindless “faith” and an appeal to an indefinable “compassion.”
A college professor recently wrote me that while it is true socialism has in the past either severely restricted the economic output of a nation or destroyed it altogether, “This time, that won’t happen.”
Monte: Why not?
Professor: Look at the level of expertise and intelligence in the White House.
Reminded me of Churchill’s remark: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
Projecting god-like attributes onto our government is so antithetical to the foundations of freedom within a Democratic Republic that our forefathers went out of their way to ensure that such power could never be exercised. They did this by creating the separation of powers between the judicial, the legislative and the executive branches of government, as well as by establishing the Bill of Rights. But all of this is meaningless, when a large enough portion of the electorate want our nation’s governments to “save” them.
For these people, the nation and, more specifically, the marketplace, are all messed up because we are all so selfish and morally-challenged. Question: If the free market does not work because of human frailties, how is it that human government agents will fare any better? Again … so much for logic.
Thomas Jefferson said, “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.”
People need to be educated. The joy and self-respect that comes from self-reliance and self-governance, the nature of freedom as opposed to the nature (and masks) of tyranny, the meaning of living in a Democratic Republic and other such cornerstones of liberty need to be taught and reinforced at every opportunity. However, given the prevalence of the desire to be saved by the government and the predilection of our government to play the savior, it is also obvious that what is needed is spiritual renewal.
God alone saves: freeing us to become the individuals we were created to be.
The State, given god-like power, enslaves, requiring a suffocating uniformity (a totalization) of the masses.
God alone is our provider and his wealth is infinite.
The State’s only source of revenue is found in the very finite wallets of its citizens.
Faith in God alone gives peace in the middle of chaos and unrest.
Faith in the State brings about the calmness of a prisoner resigned to his fate.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all OK
And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear
My hands are small, I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken
Poverty stole your golden shoes
It didn't steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
But I knew it wasn't ever after
We'll fight, not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what's right
'Cause where there's a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. Winston Churchill
What pushes the masses into the camp of socialism is, even more than the illusion that socialism will make them richer, the expectation that it will curb all those who are better than they themselves are. . . . There will no longer be any room left for innovators and reformers. Ludwig Von Mises
The envious man thinks that if his neighbor breaks a leg, he will be able to walk better himself. Helmut Schoeck
Envy, as I understand it, is the psychological state where the individual hates the good for being good. In other words, the envious person evaluates an attribute, virtue, thing, or certain circumstances as “good” and “desirable,” and then, upon seeing this “good” in others, he hates it, because he does not possess that “good.”
The envious man does not envy people who possess virtues, material things or circumstances that he does not value. If you are a genius and I place very little value on intelligence, I am not going to envy your brains. However, if I am eaten up with envy, and I do value intelligence, I am going to mock, castigate and condemn you.
Most of us have witnessed the bashing of the good for being good. Take your intelligent coworker, for example. How often is she ridiculed for her brains? O, don’t get me wrong. The envious will never come out and say that they hate her intelligence. No, what they will say are things such as, “Isn’t she uppity today,” or “Don’t you just hate pretense? Can you say POSER?” And if she commits the unpardonable sin of knowing she is smart, the envious will label her as “arrogant.” “It’s cool she is smart ... she just shouldn’t flaunt it, the arrogant snot. One day, she’ll get what’s coming to her.”
Envious people just looooove seeing The Mighty fall. For them, there are few pleasures greater than seeing successful people experience public failure. They search the news outlets daily for such delicious spectacles. “I knew it. I could have predicted it. They ain’t so high and mighty, after all.”
There are various stages of envy. I can experience a brief bout of envy when you tell me about your promotion and the salary that came with it. It passes as quickly as it came, and I sincerely congratulate you on your good fortune. The next stage is when I hold on to this feeling and begin resenting you. From here, I can descend into a more full-blown envy and begin doing everything in my power to rob you of your promotion, possibly even taking your place! Finally, there is the envy that seems to be so prevalent today, where I hate you because you were promoted.
When I reach this final degradation, I acknowledge the good as good, and hate that “good” to the point of wanting to see it destroyed.
Facing Down Envy
Given the prevalence of this attitude in our nation today, we are often confronted with envy and wonder how we should respond. When we read of successful business owners having their reputations destroyed by the media and politicians, we wonder if the better part of valor is to keep our heads down. “No matter what you do, don’t let ‘em see your success/ achievements/ wealth/ happiness or you’re dead! And, if they do see it, apologize for it!” While tact and wisdom are paramount in all circumstances, the problem with cowardice is that it only feeds the rage of the envious.
It is time for men and women who love what is good to say so. We should publicly praise achievement, success and virtue whenever and wherever we see it. In the words of St Paul, we must give honor to whom honor is due.
All hail the producers, for they are creating this nation’s wealth!
Give praise and applause to the successful entrepreneur, for he or she is inventing better and cheaper products for all of us!
Full Throated HUR-rahs to every individual that is engaging their intellect, their talents and skills, and their steely determination toward being the best employer or employee that they can be!
Highest Regards to virtuous men and women who refuse to sacrifice their integrity to the media, the market place or to government officials!
May each of you live long and prosper!
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
[UPDATE: Okay, okay, okay. I hear you! This post wasn't up for an hour before I was deluged with email asking me to expand on my thoughts regarding Envy. Will do so and post it on Monday of next week.]
The free market system is oblivious to your bloodlines: it cares about what value you have to offer. The only “entrance fee” into this market is a product or service that others are willing to pay for. As our forefathers envisioned it, being a Lord or Lady is irrelevant here in the US: being a producer is what matters.
So as to insure that the aristocracy of bloodlines did not give any particular citizen an unfair advantage in the market place, our founding fathers established a nation based on equality under the law. Every citizen is free to compete for the wealth of his neighbors. In other words, we don’t care if you are “nobility” or a “peasant”; all we are interested in is whether or not you produce something that satisfies our needs.
And herein lies the rub for many people …
Capitalism is brutally honest. By this I mean that, in the arena of achievement, you cannot hide your shortcomings and failures. You contribute or not. You produce or not. You cannot sell or trade hopes, fantasies or dreams: you have something of value to add in the market place, or not.
Today, people are acting like the aristocracy of old, demanding to be rewarded without having produced anything, or demanding equal rewards for unequal production. These are the envious people who want what the successful person has earned and, if not, they don’t want anyone to have the reward.
Go back and reread the previous paragraph: this is key to understanding the emotional and psychological make up of the envious. Envious people would rather all of us be poor, rather than seeing any of us attain success.
There is a very important difference between jealousy and envy. While jealousy is tinged with resentment, envy is vicious.
It is one thing to be jealous of the success of another. For example, I am jealous and resentful that you have a BMW and I drive a ’82 Buick, and sorely would love to have a Beemer myself. Envy, however, is different from jealousy in that it goes farther than mere resentment of your success. Envy believes, “If I can’t have a BMW, you shouldn’t have one … if I can’t have one, no one should have one.”
Envy and Big Business
When you hear someone castigate Big Business, you are usually hearing the echo of envy.
Sir Envious: “I deserve to be wealthy. I am not wealthy, however. Big Business and its executives are wealthy. This wealth obviously came their way through greed and cheating, so it should be punished and the wealth of the executives confiscated, or at least severely scaled down. “ (For the envious, success can never be attributed to exceptional performance: it is always a sign of cheating or some such nefarious practice.)
It doesn’t seem to occur to Lord and Lady Envious that a majority of citizen-consumers chose to give Big Business more capital so as to maintain and increase its production and services. In other words, Lords and Ladies, if you have a problem, it’s not with Big Business: it is with your neighbors.
To the envious person the damnable thing is that the market has placed a different value on his contribution than he believes is “fair.” (Fair: a woman’s complexion? a weather report? a place you take a pig to compete for a ribbon?) All the government of a nation that is committed to a free market economy promises is equality before the law: in other words, it maintains justice. Period. Other than this, it is our fellow citizen-consumers that decide who stays in business and who doesn’t; whose contribution is worth a salary of one million dollars a year, and whose contribution is worth an annual salary of twenty thousand dollars.
The envious man, of course, rejects the market’s evaluation of his contribution. Whereas the marketplace makes decisions based solely on the fulfillment of mutual self-interests and not on some indefinable principle of “fairness,” the envious person insists that he be rewarded for merely existing or for being a Good Person.
Consumers are interested in meeting their needs and desires. The entrepreneur who does this with a quality product and at a cheaper price than his competitors is rewarded. I may be a great guy who people really like, but if I have nothing of value to offer in the marke-tplace, I am invisible to the consumer.
If, up until now, I have been unable to succeed in the marketplace, I have two choices:
I can get some more education, increase my skill level, and work harder and smarter.
I can join with large numbers of envious people and insist that Big Government deal with the stupidity of my neighbors who, with their purchasing power, voted YES to Big Business. Here, what is demanded is that Big Government either begin taking over these businesses and start paying people a “fair” wage, or begin taxing these businesses to such an extent that it can now support us Good People who have little if any value in the marketplace. … or both.
Enter the Elitists
[Warning: Long Sentence] Upon hearing the cry of the Good People who are producing and contributing little if anything of value to the market place, and seeing the rage of the envious assembly line workers who insists that they are “almost” as valuable to the company as the CEO (actually they believe they are just as valuable as the CEO, if not more so: they simply realize that even uneducated people would find that hard to swallow), the Political Elitists take up the cause of The Voiceless Victims of Big Business.
Hear the Cry of the D.C. Elitists!
Something Must Be Done! (Something IS being done: the market is, through creative destruction, wiping out businesses that are no longer producing what the majority of citizen-consumers want at the price they want to pay, and rewarding those who are offering values that satisfy our needs and desires.)
Big Business Had Decades to Get Its House In Order: Time’s Up! (Don’t you wish the majority of voters would say this to Congress?)
Somebody Must Stand Up For the Good Defenseless People (Sure would be refreshing if someone in D.C would start standing up for the people who are producing the wealth of this nation.)
We Politicians Will Begin Managing the Market Place (You know, we who have never had to compete in the market place and manage a business a day in our lives.)
Of course, if there are too many citizen-consumers who have a philosophical or, at least, an instinctual distrust of Big Government, what the envious and the elitists do here is begin covertly sneaking in their socialistic agendas with words such as “compassion” and “justice.”
“We need an equitable (just) capitalism; a more compassionate capitalism.”
Aw … just saying that feels so good and pious, doesn’t it? Obviously to say this means I am a man filled with love for the poor and downtrodden. Maybe. Then again, how many politicians are donating more than a few percent of their personal incomes to charity? I think it is, more often than not, code-speak for turning the market over to people (government agents) who are “more qualified” (elites) than American citizens in deciding what best meets their mutual self-interests. This is Anti-American, Anti-Capitalism, Anti-Individual freedom (I realize this is a redundancy but, hey, I am seeking to make a point!), and, as history has repeatedly demonstrated, will create more poverty and injustice.
Justice Free markets, to remain free, require justice: there is to be no fraud and no force, no cheating and no threats of violence. If this does occur, our courts must act swiftly to rid the marketplace of such practices.
Justice also requires that each citizen be equal under the law. Both the rich and the poor, the politician and the entrepreneur, are to be held accountable to the same laws. Capitalists have always maintained the need for justice. The problem for them arises when “justice” no longer means equal under the law, but, rather, equal results.
As for compassion, go and research just how many trillions of dollars both individual citizens and our government have, over the last one hundred years, donated to the less fortunate, both domestically and internationally. What the envious and the elites mean by “compassion” is that the government should decide who is paid what. In the Socialists estimation, you, Mr. and Ms. Citizen, are a bumpkin so brainless you cannot be trusted to decide where you invest your money.
Charity (compassion in action) is an act of an individual’s free will or it is not “charity.” Once our nation’s governments turn compassion and charity into government programs funded by coercing taxpayers into paying higher and higher taxes, once it decides the elites in Washington, D.C. know better than the citizens do as to where to give the citizen-consumer’s hard earned money, the wealth this nation has generated and is capable of generating will be depleted, and poverty will increase. So much for “compassion.” But then again, for the elites, it isn’t about “compassion.” Never has been. For these people, it is all about power. Always has been.
And what of the reaction of the envious to the dwindling of our nation’s wealth and the increased poverty that will inevitably spread across the nation, if we continue down the Road to Serfdom? They are just fiiiiine, thank-you-very-much … because all of us are in the same sinking ship.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
One of the most astounding events in history took place when our nation’s founders insisted that the aristocracy of achievement replace the aristocracy of bloodlines. Each of them had seen what happened to individuals who lived in nations that were organized around providing for a handful of Lord’s and Ladies: the aristocracy thrived and the masses died.
In the USA the only “aristocracy” was going to be those men and women who achieved greatness and success through their hard work and strong will, coupled with the ability to satisfy the needs and desires of a large portion of their fellow citizens, through providing the best products at the cheapest prices. In other words, rather than the top of the pyramid being a handful of bluebloods, the pyramid was flipped, so that from then on it would be the masses – the consumers – who ran the show.
Just as the founding fathers decided that, in the political arena of a democratic republic, the voters would decide who would represent them, the same belief would apply to the market place: every day, individual consumers would vote, via their purchases, on which entrepreneur would be rewarded and which would be found wanting, and judged accordingly.
Today, however, many of our political representatives wish to, once again, invert the pyramid: the aristocracy of achievers is to be replaced with the aristocracy of political power. The politician is replacing the consumer; Socialism is replacing Democracy.
Why in the world would anyone choose to give away their power and freedom to a body of politicians, in this manner? There are a number of reasons but the two that seem to be the most prevalent are envy and elitism.
When a nation has a large enough segment of people who despise the successful for their success (the envious) who are then joined by elitist politicians who believe that they are smarter and wiser than our nation’s citizen-consumers as to “managing” the marketplace and the nation’s wealth, socialism is inevitable.
Thursday: The Envious and The Elitists
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
UPDATE: I have had quite a few people write to inform me that I made an error when I wrote that President George W Bush said he had to go against the principles of capitalism so as to save capitalism. "No way W would say such a thing." Well ... yes and no. Yes, I made an error, but no I did not miss the essence of what he said, which was: "I had to abandon free market principles to save the free market." I embedded a link to the CNN interview on Youtube where he made this comment. See below.
As our forefathers understood it, it is God who gives us the inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” While there were various beliefs among these men as to the nature of this God, they all believed in a supreme being that created the world. Therefore, because they believed that God created us with inalienable rights, they were compelled to structure governments so as to insure that each individual citizen’s rights were protected.
God is God: I am not. Anything I do that interferes with your inalienable rights is a god-like usurpation.
God is God: it is not. Local, state, or federal governments are not God. The Church is not God. No institution should assert itself in such a way as to deny you these rights.
This is important because the only Savior, Messiah or Lord is God. This not only means that people and their institutions must not play God, it also means that I am not to look to people or their institutions for “salvation.” My provider and defender is the God of all creation. Period.
So what are these God given inalienable rights?
“Life.” My life is God’s. This means that no one is to deprive me of my life: there is to be no unjust murdering of innocents.
“Liberty.” I am to be free to pursue God, or not. I am free to speak my mind. I am free to go my own way in pursuit of my own happiness. I am also free to bear arms so as to protect myself during this pursuit. I am free to produce, which presupposes being free to fail. I am free to exchange goods and services with others, as best meets our own mutual self-interest, without any unjust interference from governments and institutions. And what would be a just interference? Keeping force and fraud out of the market place.
I believe this to be the primary function of our governments: protecting the inalienable rights of each individual citizen … the smallest of minorities. Tragically, it now appears that its primary function is to severely restrict these rights.
“The pursuit of happiness.” By “happiness” our forefathers meant the Good Life, a life well lived. (See, Aristotle) Whatever you may think of how I am pursuing “happiness,” it is my life, not yours, not its. Now, this does not mean I am free to steal or slander or commit fraud, mind you, for in doing such things I am denying you your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Today, politicians act as if THEY gave us these rights and, therefore, can take them away. But what can we expect when so many of our fellow citizens apparently agree with such blasphemy. Yes blasphemy, because it is saying that God is not God: IT (governments) is God.
Two Questions Here:
If our nation’s business and political leaders sincerely believed in God and the inalienable rights that he has granted each of us, how would they be leading: what principles would guide their decisions and actions?
If you truly believed in God and in your inalienable rights, how would you be living, working, voting?
Capitalism and Our Inalienable Rights
Just before leaving office, President Bush decided to place the nation in a couple of trillion dollars of debt. Which, in retrospect, is picayune compared to what President Obama is doing. In defending his decision to saddle future generations with a debt that only confiscatory taxes could even come close to paying down and practically annihilating many of our children's freedoms, he said that he had to abandon free market principles to save the free market. In all respect to the man, this may go down as one of the more asinine comments ever made by a politician … and that is saying something.
Saying that you had to go abandon free market principle to to save the free market is like telling your spouse you had to commit adultery to save your marriage. Sheer lunacy. As capitalism is the only economic system that protects the inalienable rights of the individual, what Bush was saying was that he had to deny our freedoms so as to protect our freedoms. Riiiiiiiiight
News Flash: Capitalism can save itself, thank-you-very-much, if only our leaders will once again respect our inalienable rights and stop trying to save us. “Saving” is between the individual and God. But, for this to happen, people must first believe in God and begin demanding their inalienable rights, rather than freely giving them over to the wanna-be-god: the US Government.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009