Thursday, February 16, 2006

Where Does Wealth Come From?

If we take as a working assumption that wealth is produced by creative individuals who are free to adopt the most efficient means of acquisition and production, and secondarily by groups welded together in collective enterprises shepherded by those same individuals, then we must ask ourselves a fundamental question: what slows down or impedes the development of wealth?

We in the West have a schizoid attitude towards growth and development that is being fueled by three relatively devolved and silly ideas. The first silly idea is that there are too many people. No there aren't. There are, however, too many people who are not gainfully employed by the best enterprises that could be produced by the collective intelligence of mankind. There are also too many people who are not properly educated either intellectually or morally. The failure to educate, feed or employ large groups is not a "proof" for the existence of too many people, rather it is a proof of the failure of a society to educate, feed and employ those people.

The second silly idea is closely linked to the zero population growth (ZPG) theories and groups of the political left, and it is the idea that growth is bad, that human beings are a cancer and that there aren't enough resources for everyone, and sooner or later the planet will be overpopulated by humans breeding like rabbits. One reason that this is a silly idea is that good families produce solid social and intellectual capital. More is better from an evolutionary point of view. The larger the family the greater are the chances, via natural selection, of producing children who will in turn themselves produce wealth.

ZPG advocates also conveniently ignore the fact that there are at present nine established planets in the Solar System. Rather than focusing on the resources of one planet, the Zero Growth clowns should be focusing on how to harness the resources of the other nine planets or figuring out how to get to nearby stars. There are plenty of resources in the universe. Just because we don't know how to get at them yet doesn't mean these resources don't exist. What does exist are silly ideas that obstruct the development of new and promising technologies based on neo-luddite notions of scarcity and economic development.

The third silly idea is that what you do with your appetites, particularly your sexual appetites has no effect on your moral, spiritual and intellectual development. We cannot build strong and disease free societies without restricting human appetites. Human sexual appetites are naturally disobedient or disordered. One has only to go to a frat party or visit a local gay bar late at night to see this disorder in all its glory.

The mark of the cultured and civilized person is some rational curtailing of appetites known to be destructive. Any society that tolerates the selling of pornography, particularly child pornography is a society that does not understand the management of basic instincts. If you need a place to put your meat, find a wife or wives and multiply. Meatbeaters waste a great deal of time in five fingered marriages that are all output with no input. Give it a rest and enjoy a higher level of creative energy!

Any society that wishes to set up a standard for rational behavior, which necessarily involves curtailing bad appetites must have a schema or map of those appetites which might be considered "bad" and those appetites which might be considered "good". The Greeks concept of vice and virtue is one such schema that is as useful today as it was 2,500 years ago. If you want to distinguish a liberal from a conservative, talk about virtue and vice. Conservatives have few problems with the notions of vice and virtue. Most liberals resist even the notion of bad appetites--preferring to imagine that all appetites are naturally ordered, except in situations where government money is not available for the underclass, which is of course lunacy. More on this in a future blog.

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