06 December 2006

Where Does It Come From?

When I was five I thought electricity was created by electric sockets. I didn't realize there were power plants out there generating it. Likewise, it doesn't occur to most kids that wealth is something that has to be generated. It seems to be something that flows from parents.

To children most things simply appear as if by magic. No wonder they believe in Santa Claus and tooth fairies. But when people get older, they are supposed to learn better. Some people never do.

Where does wealth come from? People make it. This was easier to grasp when most people lived on farms, and made many of the things they wanted with their own hands. Then you could see in the house, the herds, and the granary the wealth that each family created. It was obvious then too that the wealth of the world was not a fixed quantity that had to be shared out, like slices of a pie. If you wanted more wealth, you could make it....

In the real world, you can't keep living off your parents. If you want something, you either have to make it, or do something of equivalent value for someone else, in order to get them to give you enough money to buy it. In the real world, wealth is (except for a few specialists like thieves and speculators) something you have to create, not something that's distributed by Daddy. And since the ability and desire to create it vary from person to person, it's not made equally.

No, the talent of wealth creation has a bell curve distribution, like height, talent at sports, intelligence, and attractiveness. If you are one of the many who are not good at wealth creation--like college professors or journalists--you tend to look at those who are good at wealth creation as thieves. In totalitarian societies and before market economics, the most wealthy people may have been thieves of some sort. But ever since the industrial revolution and the free market, most people with comfortable amounts of wealth have earned it legally and ethically. If you are the jealous type, though, you will tend to side with Karl Marx and other less than talented intellectuals.

It is not only wealth and electricity that mystify so many children. Technology and science, like business skills, are poorly taught in most schools, and like wealth remain a mystery to the neotenous older children that populate our society.

Most individuals in developed societies are dependent on technology for their comfort and health, but are almost completely ignorant of technology and the underlying science. Their well-being is dependent on many hundreds of people linked by invisible threads of commerce and skilled work, but they are ignorant of their dependency and their ignorance. They remind me of nothing so much as spoiled children of slave owners who never even notice the slaves that make their pampered lives possible.

As long as society runs smoothly, they have no problems. Most find some way to exchange their time for money, which they can convert to the wealth of their choosing. Only when things go wrong are these oblivious ones forced to see the layers of strenuous activity that support their lives.

The best way to get rich in a free market society is through your own business. Better than professional training, better than working your way up the corporate ladder, better than being a celebrity or lottery winner--most wealthy people in free societies are businesspeople. The funny thing is, learning business skills is generally easier, and more likely to have a payday, than learning a lot of things that pay much less in the long run.

But don't hold your breath until you learn those basic facts from the media or government schools. The loudest, most persistent voices in the media and schools are all saying that wealth is distributed unjustly. They are saying wealth should be distributed equally--as if wealth sprung magically from some "Daddy's" billfold. Unperceptive people with lazy minds. They cling to their lazy envy as if their lives depended on it.

Superfluous people, flotsam on the river of commerce and technology that is mostly passing them by. Interesting things are happening below their level of awareness--things that are making them even more superfluous than they already are. More on that later.


Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts