In a work of historical fiction, one of the characters wrote to another about the leaders of the Communist-socialist revolution in Russia. “Their leaders were committed to peace; they had promised peace and plenty to their peasant followers, and it would likely be demanded of them — the peace part. As for the plenty, those poor children will have to find out that wealth and ease are not a spontaneous outpouring of a benevolent earth, to be enjoyed merely by adjusting ourselves to receive them.”
When I listen to our present-day American politicians speak of wealth, I hear the same thing. They speak of wealth as if it’s something that a just and benevolent government creates. As the author of this passage wrote, they speak of wealth as if it’s a “spontaneous outpouring.” Or simply a given.
The central task of government, according to the unchallenged “wisdom” of our day, is to make sure that wealth goes to those who most deserve it. In practice, it’s an ugly business. It might not be as ugly as in the days of Soviet Russia, when property was literally seized by the government and millions were massacred for the sake of the “public good.” But the underlying principle is exactly the same. In America 2012, we go through democratic niceties, but the assumption is the same. Wealth is a given. It’s simply a matter of distributing it. Such is the dirty business of our beloved and redistributive Congress and President.
Look at the conveniences that you enjoy in modern life. Identify which ones were not in existence five, ten or 50 or 100 years ago. How did these conveniences you now take for granted come into existence? You’d have to study each one case by case. Go ahead. Pick a favorite convenience and “google” its history. It will only take a few minutes. In each and every case, you’ll find that each of these conveniences came about because of two things. One, scientific or other human ingenuity. Two, the ability to make a profit. Usually “profit” means financial, although sometimes it means love of the activity itself. Either way, it’s personal profit, the thing that we’re erroneously told is the root of all evil in human nature.
People did not create these conveniences for the common good. That was the huge evasion of Communism. But it’s also the huge evasion of the modern entitlement state. The entitlement state assumes that government creates the economy. These same politicians that the public holds in such low regard are assumed to be the ones who make or break the economy — not by staying out of the economy, but by actively manipulating it. Every four years, in electing a President, Americans go through the charade of pretending to believe that these same officials for whom they have such low regard (50 percent of the population holds the President in low regard, about 90 percent hold the Congress in low regard) are the ones who give us everything we have.
But it’s not true. Anything you consider valuable and convenient came about because somebody used his intelligence, and because somebody stood to make a profit at it. No government agency or committee ever created anything, other than what’s occasionally required in self-defense to protect us from an actual foreign invader or threat. Even then, most of the time they get that wrong, but once in awhile the government gets that right. But even then, it’s because the military, in a society like ours, has access to the creative technology and weaponry made possible by — you guessed it, a combination of the scientific method and a motive for financial profit.
Consider the attitude of our current President. He said, “Now, anybody who thinks that we can move this economy forward with just a few folks at the top doing well, hoping that it’s going to trickle down to working people who are running faster and faster just to keep up, you’ll never see it.” What’s he saying? He’s saying that government must be there to create programs and, as he himself puts it, “spread the wealth” from those who don’t need it, according to him, to those who do need it. But who and what created that wealth? The desire for profit. If our current President had his way, there would be almost no limit to the amount of profit that would be removed from the equation. If he could get away with a 70 percent or 90 percent marginal tax rate, he would undoubtedly do it. What this attitude counts on is a false belief. The false belief is that things get created with or without the profit motive. But that’s plainly not true. People would not invent automobiles, computers, life-saving drugs, or anything else of actual or perceived value — not without the profit motive, and not without the freedom which thinking minds require in order to generate all these valuable things. America is the only society in history that allowed (at least relatively speaking) unfettered profit, and unfettered freedom for capable minds to think and produce. America got the best results, by far, of any society in history.
That’s no accident.
Somebody needs to help Americans understand that wealth is not a “spontaneous outpouring” created by some mystical authority figure. A few years back, I remember being on a cruise ship. The cruise ship visited the Panama Canal. Near the Panama Canal were some tropical islands called the San Blas Islands. They were inhabited by a primitive culture called the Kuna people. The Kuna people were living in huts and under the most primitive conditions imaginable. They looked for wealth, not so much from their own society, but from the tourists coming from the mythical lands of America (and also Western Europe). I remember these Kuna people in their little boats, beneath the towering cruise ships, begging — almost praying — for some money to be thrown at them. Benevolent tourists threw coins and even dollar bills at them, which they eagerly grabbed, crying gratitude to the heavens. This, I thought, is the essence of a primitive mentality: The mindset that wealth is not created, and that wealth has no requirements. It’s simply a given, in nature, and requires nothing more than people willing to give it to them.
This primitive mentality leads to a culture of beggars who, at best, will merely survive from one generation to the next, never improving. They have no worries of profit or science. All they need to worry about is that some benevolent force, above, will give it to them. Call that force “God” or “Obama.” Either way, it’s a toxic fiction.
America will go the way of the Kuna people, ultimately, unless or until it reverses course and makes unfettered profit and unfettered ingenuity possible. We’re headed in precisely the opposite direction, at present. To once again become a country worthy of the label “greatness,” we’re going to have to completely reverse course. Profit and freedom made America what it is. The decline of those two things is the cause of our current decline. The entitlement state creates a beggar mentality, which leads to stagnation. Freedom, and only freedom, will bring the economy back to life.
Source of above quote: “The American Crusade II: The Age of Democracy,” published in 1927 (by Edwin Markham).