Wednesday, September 5, 2012
It's easier to be one thing or another and difficult as hell to take the best from different viewpoints. There seems to be a resistance to mixing and matching ideas -or having some kind of counterbalance to your body of beliefs.
There is a lot virtue in work and profits are good. The boundary line between good and bad becomes hard to negotiate when you ask what is fair compensation for work or what is more important than profits? Even my most leftist friends have taken a profit here and there -though they have their own calculus to determine if it is tainted or not. And among the most determinate capitalist I know, some have strayed from the mantra of greed is good and exercised their social consciousness through charity and acts of random kindness. Still when either side feels threaten they both run to the ramparts of old arguments that both sides only halfheartedly believe but are ready to fight over.
The hardcore Libertarian and Les A Faire Capitalist are the toughest to take. I an yet to meet up with a Les A Faire Farmer who throws his seed on the ground and just lets nature take it's course. As far as I know no one runs a company with Les A Faire management and I think we can all imagine how successful Les A Faire parenting would be. Les A Faire capitalism is step back into the law of the jungle, a few stripped down principals that are equally dynamic as they are brutal, the jungle is a diverse place but it's also filled with predators and parasites. The model of productivity and civilization is the garden not the jungle. Even in the Bible God created not the Jungle of Eden but the Garden of Eden. What all gardens have in common is the need for management.
Through out history there has never been a Libertarian State. The closest thing to such a state is Haiti and Guatemala. Both nations are totally privatized, the governments are little more than an army and post office. Libertarianism is the fantasy that each of us can be our own peaceful government and without the structure, the rules and the enforcement of an overarching authority we would all organically grow into little villages of prosperity. I don't think peace and prosperity are going to spontaneously spring out of Haiti or Guatemala.
One of the trends that really bothers me is how economists have pushed the world towards a "cheaper commodities model". That means moving the economy forward on cheaper and cheaper prices for goods and services. In a way this is nice to see the price of flat screen TV fall like a rock but it also means there is a lot of downward pressure on wages.
What sticks in my mind is a conversation with an acquaintance back in New Jersey. He works in a traditional manufacturing plant making simple electrical components, actually he's worked there most his adult life. He's a blue collar conservative and he was ranting how ridiculous things were 20 years ago when the company had hired a janitor/maintenance man for 40k a year. The company is leaner and smarter because they contract that work to company that hires guys for $8 an hour. I had to ask how he is doing? Not so good it seems, he had to take a big pay cut to keep his job but business has been booming and with all the overtime he almost brings home what he use to make. I some how don't see this as progress when people are asked to work harder, longer and for less. I don't see this as a formula for economic growth -maybe after all the sweat and money is sucked out of the Middle Class we'll end up like Haiti with a very rich 1% lording over a nation of hungry dirt poor people.
What do you think?