An Economic Overview
Life requires effort. If you do not earn what you have someone else must. The things that raise your standard of living have to be created. Wealth has to be created. The basic elements of physical wealth exist in nature but are not wealth (do not raise anyone’s standard of living). Until and unless someone thinks of how to use it and then acts on his thoughts: they remain valueless. Oil would be of no use to anyone if no one had discovered the things it could be used for and how to produce them. The primary source of wealth, the means by which people survive and raise their standard of living is thought and then action.
How well you live is not of course determined by physical wealth alone. There are non-physical forms of wealth, things we value that exist as or induce mental states or emotions. You can further the quality of your life by hearing a song you enjoy or by learning about an idea that inspires you. Wealth takes many forms but wealth in any form is the product of someone’s thought and effort. The song had to be written and performed and the thought conceived of and transmitted.
To obtain wealth we engage in trade. We live in a division of labor society; some people grow crops, some people build houses and other structures, others right books or design computer software. Unlike the primitive men who produced on their own the very little that each man had; we each work in very specialized field of production and then trade what we earn for what others have produced. And, just as each man does not have to grow or hunt his own food, build his own home and make his own clothing, we do not trade, as the savages did, what we have produced directly for what we need. Farmers do not bring bags of potatoes to the mall and try to purchase Ipods with them. We use currency as a placeholder for value. We no longer have to hope to find someone who needs what we have and has what we want in order to trade with each other. If we still did there would be no Ipods.
All this producing and trading and exchanging money is what an economy is. The creation of wealth through thought and effort and its exchange for other forms of wealth made smoother by a universally accepted placeholder for value. The accumulation of wealth can allow much greater purchases. Just as a farmer can grow more crops with a greater amount of saved up stock seed; saved up money can make possible greater purchases of material which can then be used to produce greater amounts of wealth.
What makes an economy strong? A healthy economy is one where people, eager to live a good life, strive to produce wealth to enjoy and trade for other forms of wealth that are of greater value to them than what they are trading. Where those who have earned a lot of money invest in projects to produce even more wealth; where the stock seed capital is put in the hands of the best wealth growers and allowed to grow and flourish into more and better forms of wealth. One in which people innovate and invent ways of producing more and better things faster while spending less money on production. A strong economy is one where people can easily buy many high quality things in exchange for little. An economy in which people can live very well as a result of their effort because of the added effort of the other producers in such an economy to the extent that those others are productive.
A healthy economy, like a health animal, is an active one. But an inactive animal is not healthy. Why is our economy inactive? This animal is held down by chains.
Large investments are much more difficult because the stock seed for these fields are being seized and devoured. We are seeing a shrinking economy because wealth is being taken from the most productive and being given to those who produce nothing. We are all taxed; robbed of a great portion of what we earn so that others who earn nothing may ride on our efforts. Our money is seized from us at the point of a hidden gun (if you wish to see this gun abstain from paying taxes long enough). It is thrown into the wind and spread around the country and around the word. Our money funds unproductive government monopolies which do not produce enough to support their own existence. It is taken from us by force to be given to every government employee that does no real work and produces no real wealth. It is given as plain alms to those on welfare and as foreign aid. And money is handed to the right business men when they fail at being productive. That’s right; failure to be successful is rewarded with the fruits of the labor of those who actual produce.
Companies are not free to produce what and as they please. Businesses are not only robbed by our government but regulated as well. Our greatest producers of wealth are not merely drained of their blood but are broken and crippled. Many companies no longer even exist as a result of laws restricting and controlling production, employment and distribution. Those who still exist are crippled. And it is impossible to guess how many companies would have sprung up and created what and how many unknown and uninvented goods because of this. The damage done by government regulation of businesses to the economy is inestimable.
One more illness we are sick with is inflation. When the amount of currency grows and the amount of wealth stagnates or shrinks what we are each able to buy with the money we have shrinks with it. There is more money representing the same amount of or less actual wealth. When you see prices of goods rising it is because there is more money being printed and spent by the government. Money once had objective value; each dollar was exchangeable for gold. Your money was gold; you exchanged certificates entitling you to that gold. The amount of money was the amount of gold. But now money is just so much paper; as much of it as whoever happens to be in power wants can be printed. The value of money is controlled by someone’s whims and the desire to tax us more without us knowing that it’s happening. The newly printed money has value only to the extent that the existing money’s value drops. This is one more way that are standard of living is forced down and the economy’s stock seed is eaten.
There are other drains the money is sucked down which are not completely caused by government and some that are not at all. Wealth in an economy is destroyed when; it is shoplifted as retail goods, when money is rewarded in insane and irrational lawsuits, against corporations or anyone else with money, to those who want something for nothing by judges and jurors eager to help out the “under dog” right or wrong. When those with money dump it into unproductive non-profit organizations such as those who give handouts to people who do not care to earn their living or engage in such reckless alms giving independently. What’s lacking in such cases as these is a proper moral code. The moral code of cannibalism and self immolation that is taken for granted in our society is the cause underlying all of the economic misconceptions which manifest themselves as regulations and taxes. Most people think of their morality as synonymous with morality and have never considered that an alternative could even exist. This ancient and baseless moral code is what guilts people into throwing away their wealth as alms rather than improving their own life by engaging in trade or investment. Misconceptions about morality caused by this code are what leads people to rob others and file outrageous law suits etc. Those who attempt an alternative to that code usually end up with some variation of the same theme.
From the rationalizations for theft based on the belief that the successful are evil, to the essential confusions about what it means to be selfish with the assumption that life require someone’s sacrifice, to the rejection of all morality as such for the lack of any alternative and the proposed alternatives that take for granted the major premises of the code they pretend to be an alternative to. Altruism is an immeasurable force in our world. An immeasurably destructive force; not just economically. It is also destructive to a person’s own soul; his self esteem and view of existence.
Even deeper than this is the rejection of reason. As we saw, thought is a requirement of life and happiness. When people choose not to think on a mass scale baseless ideas flood through unresisting vacant minds. Such bad ideas (moral, political and economic) as are discussed above, which are easily demonstrated to be false or absurd, are accepted by such mechanisms as come to replace logic when it is not employed. False and arbitrary ideas are accepted through the vague and confused arguments given for them for lack of the ability to see their flaws. Ideas are accepted on faith, because of fear, guilt, admiration, or respect etc for the speaker. When reason is thrown out emotions take its place and an emotion cannot tell you if an idea is true or not. Emotions do not analyze arguments and detect errors in thinking. Emotions can tell you nothing about what exists outside of your own subconscious’s pre-absorbed value judgments. Whatever your mind happen to absorb by whatever means; rational and conscious or otherwise. To know what ideas are true and valid people need a commitment to reason.
The world sliding down a steep cliff side, wet with the slippery slimy tear and slobber soaked mud of emotions misused as its guide to action; unable to pull itself up because it never learned how to climb. People knew once and they pulled us as far as we have climbed. But people grew content with comfortably resting and now we are seeing the rocks they cling to begin to slip because of that mud. If nothing changes we will find ourselves back in the very bottom of that pit of suffering and unremembered and incomprehensible hell we were dragged out of when some men learned to think. We will find ourselves in another dark age. The faith based hell on earth of cannibalism level poverty and unchecked diseases and natural disasters. We will find ourselves with out the products of the mind that most of us take for granted; the things that keep us happy, healthy and alive.
What can be done? The first thing to be done on an economic level is to unchain businesses and allow them to produce. With the regulations voted away production will be free to rise. The parts of government which should not exist can be phased out along with all the other drains on the economy. The monopolies can be privatized; sold to and ran buy businesses and other businesses can be allowed to compete with them freely. Welfare can also be phased out as more work becomes available with the growth of businesses. All other forms of alms giving can be cut off or phased out. And eventually the government can be reduced to it’s proper and necessary roll of protecting peoples rights to life, liberty, property, the pursuit of happiness. . . . That is; a court system a police force and an army. Which can be funded by court fees, lottery and/or donation rather than the brutish, barbaric theft of taxation.
But that’s only on an economic level. People must discover what is truly moral and abandon their prehistoric creed of sacrifice and death worship. People must learn to be rational and why they need reason. The best thing anyone can do is learn and spread the ideas of the philosopher Ayn Rand. To validate a political system where people are left free to pursue their own interests by producing the values they need to survive: people must understand that such is moral and why it is moral. People need the only scientific, fact based, rational moral system in existence. “The morality for living on earth” Ayn Rand’s rational egoism. People must also learn why this morality’s principles are true and how to discover truth. People must learn about logic and thinking clearly. People need epistemology. People must, to understand this, also learn what kind of world we live in; people need metaphysics. To live well on earth people need philosophy. They need fact based, rational and objective philosophy; demonstrably true philosophy.
If you haven’t yet read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. It’s the best place to start living your life well and the best place to start any political-economic revolution. This book alone could save the world; if it still can be saved. Ayn Rand has also written many nonfiction works on philosophy and there are some books written by her scholars (Leonard Peikoff, Andrew Bernstein, Tara Smith, Brian P. Simpson to name a few) that are unbelievably well written and enlightening for those who want more.