Where Do Things Come From?
We all know where babies come from: The stork, right? Ha ha. That, of course, is a tale told to young children by uncomfortable parents. How ridiculous would it be if millions of people in America actually thought that this were so?
But the reality is that with regard to other facts of life, we are not very far from this; we have become a society where too many people don't know where things come from.
This disconnection from the basic ground of life poses a danger to us in two ways: 1) we are vulnerable to left wing idealistic propaganda; and 2) we can fail to appreciate the daily work of all varieties that provides us with what we have taken for granted.
Where does food come from? Farmers grow grains, fruits and vegetables. This takes a lot of water, it takes a lot of land with good soil, it takes fertilizers and pesticides and it takes a lot of people a tremendous amount of work.
When people buy meat at the grocery store, are they aware that ranchers have raised the animals, slaughtered them and butchered them in order that they can display a nice looking steak in the refrigerator case? Or clean, ready to cook chicken parts?
When people with "No blood for oil" bumper stickers on their car go to the gas station so they can get to their next Sierra Club meeting, where do they think that gasoline has come from? Do they have any idea of the tremendous amount of work and risk that goes into producing those several gallons of gas?
When we hear politicians talk about spreading the wealth around, the truth is what they really are able to do is to spread money around – nobody talks about what that money represents, or where it actually comes from.
And this is our problem. Money has become so far removed from its actual source that enough people can believe that the value it represents is just present in the atmosphere somehow, like oxygen. The focus is on the money, and not on what that money represents.
It's easy to see the value that a new invention, like the light bulb, or a new application of technology, like the personal computer, can bring. The difference in lifestyle that electric lighting has ushered in is tangible. Compared to earlier times, nighttime is optional. Anyone can stay up while it's pitch black outside and work or play or read or do whatever they would like to do, just as easily as if it were daytime.
The difference in lifestyle that personal computing has brought is also tangible. I can write this column on my computer, attach it to an e-mail, and that same day you get to read it on your computer, wherever you happen to be.
My daughter asked me a question about something the other day, and I said, (tongue in cheek), "Hmm, let me just check my memory..." while I searched the Internet for the answer. About a minute later I had found it. Our computers and the Internet have functionally expanded our brain power beyond anything that the most learned person on earth could have accessed quickly just a couple of decades ago.
But now we are used to these things. Excepting for the occasions when the power goes down for a time, I doubt if most people ever consider how much wealth has been added to their lives by the existence of these two common items.
What about the incredible number of things that we don't directly experience, but that affect our lives on a daily basis?
Who thinks about where the steel comes from to build the structure of their car? Who thinks about where the machines come from that form the tools to shape that steel? Where are the mines from which the iron ore is produced?
From where does the cotton for our clothing come? Who caught the fish we're having for dinner, and how did they do it?
I can remember as a kid being told about these things. It was, frankly, a little boring for me. But I remember that the grownups who were telling me about them had more enthusiasm for the telling. Because they could still feel the difference. They knew what it was like before we began to take all of these things for granted.
Taking things for granted is very natural. It's part of what enables us to adapt, to grow, to move on to new possibilities and creations. We have to be able to assume certain things in order to build upon them.
But if we lose track of the fact that these things are all human inventions, brought to our everyday habitual use through the efforts of real people, then we put ourselves in danger of believing that these things exist as a baseline – like a ratchet that never allows for reversal.
This may be a fundamental difference between the conservative/libertarian/founding principles mindset, and the progressive/liberal mindset, the blank slate idealism of the left. I think that we have much more of an appreciation for where things come from, for the work that it takes to create and maintain them, and therefore we also know that they can just as easily go away.
I like being able to take these things for granted. We get used to whatever our circumstances are, and I would much rather be used to the great wealth that we enjoy today – and I'd much prefer to grow accustomed to much greater wealth in the future. But what we cannot afford to do is to forget that all of these things – every single item that we use that did not exist ready-made before mankind existed – are the product of someone's ingenuity and work.
This is what wealth is. It isn't money. Money is only what we use to represent it, exchange it and accumulate it. Wealth is the product of thinking, acting human beings who are willing to risk what it takes to bring their vision into being.
"Progressive" politicians and intellectuals can think that they can somehow spread the wealth around; they can believe that their great powers can allow them to move people to equalize the differences between them and create a society of "social justice." In this fantasy, they feel that they are doing great things, "making a difference" in the world.
I see this in a lot of my colleagues, who focus on happiness as defined by positive emotions in contrast to life satisfaction. They see in this a great leverage of their power to change the world for the better, using public policy – the force of government – to make people "happier."
But in doing this, they ignore the source of most people's greatest satisfaction in life: Their work and their ability to personally provide for their families and to be an active and effective player in their circle of friends, family and acquaintances. In their great abstraction of "humanity," they ignore and minimize the role of the individual to create the incredible good that we enjoy today.
The good that we are able to take for granted because of the hard work of millions of people.
When progressives crow about moving the wealth around, what they are moving are only the results of literally billions of individual actions throughout society – purposeful, sometimes very gutsy choices and actions undertaken by creative, productive people. They are taking the symphony of human action and trying to divide it up so that everybody ends up with the same number of notes. And when they do that, they destroy the symphony.
That symphony is created by a human mind, choosing to study, to practice, and to be so immersed and absorbed in work that they create real value in the world. Government zealots can use force to move around the visible representation of value, but the value itself, and the heart and soul that brings it into being, that is something that nobody can spread around.
There's more to it than they have any conception of.
Posted by sfinman on 09/18/12 01:11 PM
I would hope that someone with a PhD would show more evidence of an ability for critical thought. To say that most progressives don't understand the difference between fleeting happiness and life satisfaction is ignorant at best, and embarrassingly unintelligent at worst. The rest of your words aren't helping your case either. I'll leave you with that, this has already been an unfortunate waste of my time.
Posted by Abu Aardvark on 11/02/11 12:42 PM
Posted by Don on 11/02/11 12:22 PM
Where do personal computers come from?
1937. John V Atanasof makes four decisions about his ABC computer:
1) It would use electricity and electronics, rather than mechanical means.
2) It would use base-two (binary) arithmetic.
3) It would use capacitors for memory, and regenerate the charge on the capacitors to avoid losing the memory.
4) It would compute by logical action, and not by enumeration (as used in analog computers).
1971. Intel releases the 4004, a 4-bit central processing unit (CPU).
1972. Magnavox introduces the Odyssey game console into the home.
1973. For the first time, Gary Kildall assembles all the essential components of a personal computer.
1975. Atari re-releases Pong as a home video game.
1977. Commodore, Tandy, and Apple start making personal computers for the home.
1981. The father of the IBM personal computer creates an open alternative for people who prefer to "roll their own" hardware instead of playing a hardware version of the "Breakout" game.
"Try the following exercise in your own life, and you'll reap many benefits: as you sit down to eat, stop and give yourself three minutes to contemplate the goodness of the universe that has supplied you this food. Bless the food and all who have contributed to the causal chain that brought the food to your table. Then, take ten minutes in the middle of the meal to eat in silence. Focus on the tastes. Chew slowly, and be aware of each movement of your tongue and teeth as you chew the food. After the meal, spend three minutes of silence with a focus on thanking the universe for the food and on renewing your commitment to spend time and energy to ensure that all those who do not have enought to eat will be given food." - Rabbi Michael Lerner.
Posted by Hoss on 11/02/11 09:49 AM
Never heard of her. I came up with that awhile back, in considering the morality of the entitled -- those entitled to rule by doling out the unearned, and those entitled to receive it. Nobody thinks of the host.
But thanks, when I get time I will look her up.
Posted by rossbcan on 11/02/11 09:30 AM
Ah, you've been considering Catherine Austin Fitts, an indispensable POV and freedom fighter extraordinaire, once a statist insider who knows the enemy well:
Click to view link
@DB: It boggles the mind you have not interviewed her.
Posted by Dave Jr on 11/02/11 09:01 AM
Very nice article, thankyou. It sets nicely beside the famous essay, I Pencil.
Click to view link
Posted by Hoss on 11/02/11 08:43 AM
There is one word that blows the whole thing to smithereens:
And one main strategy that destroys the concept of ownership: paper money, a tool with which the thoughts, dreams, and effort of one person are invisibly stolen by another. The producer's ignorance of the fact that what he uses for money is the primary tool for the perversion of his concepts of value, honesty, and justice is the only thing that chains him. Oh sure, they will prattle on about duty, and altruism, and 'higher values' while calling him a workaholic and sneering at his 'nerdiness'. He ignores that as long as he can do the work he loves and find a buyer for his product. But when he trades that product for paper money, believing that the notes he keeps are his, he does not realize that his ignorance of the fact that those notes are the opposite of what they represent to him are what pay for his own destruction. As long as he counts them as wealth rather than deadly poison, all his best efforts will serve only to strengthen those who leech off him.
On the day when he wakes up to this fact, and demands the restoration of private property rights to whatever it is that he accepts in exchange for his products, he will be taking the first step towards the restoration of his own freedom.
The 'value' of the money rests on the unquestioned assumption that those who produce the things we need to survive and to thrive will always accept that money in exchange for their products. When the cover is blown, when the con is revealed, when the dupe realizes he has been had and begins immediately storing his wealth in real assets, the end of the ruination of society will be at hand.
The wholesale insanity with which the cheap charade is being played out over debt in the EU reveals the desperation with which the tapeworm class relies on this faith. The danger is that the people will begin to see these maudlin pretenses for what they are: an auction on their future output, haggling over the value of their indentured servitude. They can drive that value to zero by saying, "MINE!".
Posted by rossbcan on 11/02/11 08:15 AM
JW: "Government zealots can use force to move around the visible representation of value, but the value itself, and the heart and soul that brings it into being, that is something that nobody can spread around."
The "value" is the work, the human accomplishment, applied intelligence appraising what is available as raw materials, adding a dash of vision and using directed labor to add value to create what has not existed before, with greater value. "Value", in essence is applied human life "time and energy", creating something of utility that others will peacefully exchange their "value" for.
Statists / socialists / sociopaths ASSUME that "value" is a static quantity that can be taken from "greedy producers" and given to "the needy", for a hefty redistribution commission (to the self-decreed impartial, unbiased), of course, without further consequences.
The key difference between the civilized and statists (independent of political rationale) is that the civilized stand for freedom (lack of coercion) and equality of opportunity while statists stand for "order" (stand in the line we say, do what we say, smited if you step out of line) and "equality of results" (for the peons, but, statists, being special, are "entitled" to greater power and spoils for the self-evaluated "good" they do).
Or, more basically, the freedom oriented are realistic and understand the immensity and diversity of human potential and KNOW, that the more you try to restrict freedom, the more you are attempting to restrict good as well as harmful outcomes. The freedom oriented also know we live in an action precedes consequence reality and, to the aware, actions cannot be prevented, only reacted to (perhaps punished) after the fact. The freedom oriented, because they are so, know HOW TO THINK:
Click to view link
Statists (origin of word: static, unchanging, DEAD) on the other hand are decreeing "organizers" who produce nothing of real "value" but coercion. They are firmly of the opinion that "freedom to cause harm" will inevitably lead to (speculation) "causing harm" and therefore, freedom in all domains, including thought is their mortal enemy. By their actions, they appear to have no issues with causing harm to others but do their best to insure that no harm comes to themselves and cronies by forcefully decreeing themselves unaccountable (irresponsible). Statists want us to be totally regulated, unable to perform any action that is not in our (decreed by them) functional definition, as a component in THEIR machine (system). Statists suppress innovation because it causes change and, more than anything else, statists want to maintain the staus quo so they remain "master" and the rest "serfs", serving their delusions that mankind can be enslaved, under any pretext without servitude becoming a problem and invoking the will to survive, of all of mankind, aimed directly at statist tyrants.
Going back to "value" and re-distributing fruits of labor from the productive to the unproductive for whatever faux pretexts states can dream up, this requires force and coercion because those who produce have invested time and energy (life) in whatever is being stolen and value it as much as the life they have traded. They will defend their property, which is whatever portion of their life it took to produce. Force may be able to steal existing fruits of labor but is incapable of compelling future labor and productivity. How is a productive person able to swallow faux "good of the majority" arguments and labor with no rewards to benefit others living irresponsible (including for their own survival) lives? They cannot.
We have seen these redistribution arguments practically applied to farmers (for example) throughout history, land forcefully stolen and socialized, crops stolen "for greater good". Farmers had no personal advantage apart from being allowed to survive (obey or else) to produce food. So, they produced (traded life, time and energy) to produce as little as possible. The result was, inevitably widespread famine and depopulation and statists, inevitably being forced to restore property rights and free enterprise in the food chain lest they also starve.
This is a general principle of human survival in a division of labor civilization. When freedom, property rights and ability to prosper by your own labor choices is prevented, the productive choices do not occur and productivity (and innovation) dries up until the seed corn of civilization is consumed by statists, they lose ability to feed / pay for the apparatus of state suppressing freedom and civilization (freedom, division of labor) is once again able to function in the power vacuum. This is not rocket science:
Click to view link
Which is why our far more in tune with natural law ancestors stated: "you can lead a horse to water, but you CANNOT make him drink"
In general, the freedom oriented demand choice. Statists seek to suppress choice. The battle cry of "freedom" has been resonating for all of history and, more and more people, by economic collapse and lack of security are joining the battle, girding for total war against slavers and their instruments, wielding OUR guns, against us. Why is freedom so important?
Simple. Darwin proved Survival EQUALS ability to adapt to environment EQUALS ability to CHOOSE correctly EQUALS freedom:
Click to view link
Freedom EQUALS CHOICE EQUALS SURVIVAL, a FACT. States demand freedom of their choice (unaccountability) and lack of freedom to choose for "we, their prey". States (instruments of our elite slavers) have foolishly pitted their survival against the survival of civilization (productive mankind) and bit off far more than they can chew. Their grasp has exceeded their reach. The outcome of this contest (freedom winning), by all of history is certain. What is not certain is the extent of collateral damage and how many will die.
Of course, these facts of life and civilization have been well understood for centuries. Arbitrary power (elites) have been attempting to subvert these truths away for "necessity" (Machiavelli, falsely framed arguments) by subversions of law, states, media and education for centuries. Without the internet, their lobotomy and ultimate extinction of mankind may have been successful.
These problems were once solved by widespread social awareness of the purpose and nature of justice and the "rule of law" as opposed to "rule of decreeing man, deeming some master, others, serfs":
Click to view link
Justice Defined: We are all free to profit or suffer and learn (adapt to excellence) by facing the consequences of our OWN choices. Injustice is to be forced to suffer the consequences of choices of unaccountable (irresponsible) others..
"The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern. The law of liberty tends to abolish the reign of race over race, of faith over faith, of class over class." ~ Lord Acton
As to "Where Do Things Come From?"
... somebody gets off their butt and creates it.
Posted by taxesbyanyothername on 11/02/11 06:24 AM
Amen. I think that this is understood by more children than adults. Inference could continue ad infinitum.
Posted by Saffire29979 on 11/02/11 01:18 AM
Beautifully written. Just imagining what a human society could be like, unrestrained by the superstition of Government, is enough to make the hairs on one's neck stand up.