Saturday, February 16, 2008
This does a pretty good job of capturing at least one big difference between me and the lefties:
[M]aking money is neither an end in itself, nor an activity that commands respect...
Yes it is.
Now, that is not to say that all means of making money should command respect, or that there are not other activities that command respect. But in the end, money is the most honest means for making creations -- whether material or intellectual -- tradeable. People create things, and they are willing to exchange their creations for money on the hope -- the blind faith, really -- that other people will also trade their creations in return for money. Money is the liquid manifestation of human productivity, and human productivity is a moral good, at least on my moral scale. Indeed, the flow of money is a moral compass, but it points in a different direction than most leftists assume. "Francisco d'Anconia" said it best more than fifty years ago. Teaser:
"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?
"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor--your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?
Read the whole thing, or better yet, the whole thing.
Thank you Tigerhawk. I just finished re-reading Atlas Shrugged because I had forgotten what had formed the core of my belief about the world, politics, values and desires.
I am wondering if you can be optimistic about the future when the political rulers are against just about everything in the post above.
So I pose the question: Are there enough of "us" to survive their political rule long enough for the next wave of free market capitalism to hit America? Or will we stagnate and become like Europe while Asia takes our place in the world?
I don't have the answers myself, but I think we are headed for the malaise of the 1970's and some tough times.
Unfortunately, the lefties believe that TAKING money is an end in itself, as well as an activity that commands respect.
I know this not only from my experience as a taxpayer, but also as a result of having travelled in my career through the halls of the "NGO" community. "Starving" while living on the trust fund set up by you ancestors is a fine tradition in the environmental community.
I'm watching my wallet this election season.
Love of money is the root of all evil, not money. And the Greek is better rended "all kinds of evil."
But to your point, that's why when McCain seem to belittle Romney's business experience and making profits, I was shocked.
Money is just the barter system, extended. I make widgets, you make doohickeys. I need doohickeys but you don't need widgets. Money is just the placeholder so I can get your doohickeys and you can get some whatsits elsewhere.
Hording money (accumulating money for its own sake) is as disruptive to a society as hording widgets. And, as perverse. If I accumulated tons of widgets because I must to have more widgets!, people would think me insane. Yet if I horde money in the same way people would think my riches make me wise.
A widget, unused, is just a rusty hunk of metal; money, unused, is just a colored scrap of paper.
JimVAT: "are there enough of 'us' to survive"
You can't trust politicians. Think globally. Select the best business environment on a project-by-project basis. That is the only way to remain bulletproof.
You can always find ways to outmaneuver lazy bureacrats and greedy politicians without breaking the rules.
In some ways I actually agree that the pursuit of money CAN be an amoral activity and doesn't by itself command respect (and I am the rightest righty you can find). For example, if you are a salaried or wage grade employee who doesn't really think the work is actually important, then what you are doing is drudgery and there is no real respect involved. Therefore the pursuit of the payment for the work has little to no value other than paying the bills. If, however, one is actually doing something that is important then it is the work that commands respect and the money is simply one (of many) ways that society shows appreciation and respect.
KnghtErrant: "horde money"
Very few people stuff money in a mattress these days. Successful businesspeople put their money to work, creating business opportunities for others.
You have the rich and the poor. The solution is not to make both poor. The solution is to make both rich.
There are many things that are important in life that cannot be exchanged for money -- no doubt about that. There are certainly people who pursue those things and make money only to buy necessities. I neither inherently respect such people nor inherently disrespect them. It depends on what they do and how they do it.
I will say this, though: If your output, whatever it is, cannot be traded for money, you are probably influencing far fewer people than if it can be.
In any case, my point is narrower -- most creation of money is the wholly honorable result of doing or making something useful. Doing or making something useful, whatever it is, is more "moral" on my scale than cranking oneself up into the Lay-Z-Boy with a bag of Cheetos on the belly and watching whatever is on the tube. Not that I do not do that, either, but it is between long stretches of making something that other people want.
"If your output, whatever it is, cannot be traded for money, you are probably influencing far fewer people than if it can be."
Unless you are a widely read uncompensated blogger, that is. Then you are compensated by links and the acclaim of your peers and readers.
Or an open access journal or news source. Sure, you can trade it for money (and that certainly backfired on the WSG and NYT) but it is nonetheless seen by many as both valuable and influencial without doing so.
TH: "the creation of money is the wholly honorable result"
In my view, the core problem in the U.S. is that America's educational system was set up to create workers, not entrepreneurs. The same is true in most other countries.
DEC: Our schools create workers, not entrepreneurs, because 9 out of 10 American children attend monopoly schools staffed by unionized teachers. They not only do not believe in competition, either between schools or within them, but they belief it is affirmatively harmful.
I am very far indeed from the Asian upbringing of my ancestors, but I'm more than a bit surprised.
As most people know, making money requires work. The idea that productive work might not be valued, and that the countervailing vice of sloth might not be universally condemned (even as it's indulged), sets my world view aquivering.
As a parent, the hardest thing I have found to teach my children, even harder than "Put things back", is that if they want something, they have to work for it. As children, they get everything (or at least most things) by simply asking, as they grow older that just does not happen any more. Some children grow up without ever realizing the essential formula of Work = Stuff, and Work X Education X Thought = More Stuff. Of course it is also hard to teach the equation Stuff != Happy, but even I am struggling with that. (never was that good at math)
I guess my original question has gone unanswered:
"I am wondering if you can be optimistic about the future when the political rulers are against just about everything in the post above."
I imagine we can look to foreign countries, but frankly, I don't want to live in China, eastern Europe or Mexico. I want to live, freely, in the US. I guess I will invest abroad, find gainful employment here and weather the storm until the next wave of economic expansion and economic freedom comes back to the US.
"if you can be optimistic"
My answer is "No," Jim Vat. You have to "dwell" in the cracks between countries. You have to become the thing that many Americans on the political right hate--a "citizen of the world."
You can do what you want. You can be successful. But, often, you can't do both.
You can have more than one home. I love Singapore. My brother loves Prague. The planet is a rather small place, really.