Money is sacred. It’s the most real thing there is because God himself made it for us. Well, not all of us.
Money is to be acquired and spent by those who deserve it. Those who don’t deserve it get way less of it, should have to beg for it, and are lucky to get any of its benefits at all.
God, unfortunately, didn’t tell us exactly who deserves it. But he did send His prophet, Ayn Rand, to give us guidance on the matter. Everyone should read “Atlas Shrugged” to get the best available idea of what God intended. (If you don’t know how to read, just watch Mutual of Ohama’s Wild Kingdom — it’s close enough.)
Do not be confused by charity. Charity is the giving of money from people who deserve it to people who don’t, almost exclusively to send them a clear signal about who is who. Gratitude is not a virtue — it’s payment to those chosen by God to own and control things.
Anyone who facilitates money-related decisions that don’t preserve the natural order are heretics. If the right decisions result in a new layer of “deserving” money holders to lose that money, all we did was figure out that there was another group that wasn’t deserving.
It’s especially instructive when someone who thought they were deserving finds out they really weren’t. For example, someone with a steady job and a manageable mortgage, saving for kids’ college and spending some money but less than most…. loses his job when an industry goes down because the right decision was made. If that guy were really deserving, he’d have been smart enough to pick the right career. He should have seen this coming.
That guy can sell his Ayn Rand collection to pay for a meal or two at his pre-foreclosure garage sale. The books weren’t written for him anyhow.
It’s amazing to me, but it’s certainly clear that the idea of creating some kind of utopia on Earth never dies. Socialists and other world-improvers from time immemorial have tried in vain.
Why do some have and others have not?
Why can’t we just all please be equally miserable?
Isn’t that what God really intended?
Isn’t life supposed to be fair?
And when it’s not, shouldn’t somebody “do something” to fix it so it is?
When the someone with a steady job loses it, why shouldn’t we simply steal from those that have–at the point of a gun, of course–to help the poor guy out?
What we have come to call capitalism (i.e., ultimately just the freedom to succeed OR fail in being the best serving our fellow man) may not be the best system that ever will be created by man, but it certainly is the best to-date. We’ve come closest to seeing its benefits at the creation and early decades of America. No need to fear it today, though, for in our present day AmeriKa, the socialists have come far closer to their “let’s make everybody equally miserable” goal–but not as close as they’re going to come.
While Ayn and her objectivist crowd could certainly appear pretty “hard”, I’d always thought it was in part because of the extreme position she was in when she wrote–bucking an undeniably growing trend of hard core socialism taking hold in this country. Having come from her self-described horror that was communist Russia, much of her writing, I think, was to counter the growing snow ball effect of what she saw happening here–a replay of what she’d left. (And re-reading Atlas Shrugged now, while arguably “hard”, I find she was extremely prescient…)
Ayn aside, the system she espoused–Capitalism–is still just one of individual freedom, as opposed to the rule of one or the many. YOU are free to do with your life and property as you please, so long as you grant the same God-given right (putting aside her atheism :-) to your fellow human beings. Thus, you may use your life to best serve others in supplying goods and/or services, and accumulate as much as you can/wish by so doing through voluntary transactions. YOU may then use that acquired property to help anyone you can/wish. (Ayn never espoused you couldn’t/shouldn’t, though she might have had strong opinions on any particular choices you made in so doing–see also, great interview by John Stossel of Ted Turner on a very related point after latter pledged a billion to U.N., of all places.) What you may NOT do, morally, is use force to steal the required property from your fellow man to so provide help–OR–hire or vote in some group of people to do it for you. There is nothing at all “grim” in that to me…
Yes, that’s so correct and right, because a person’s decisions and actions directly and invariably translate into what they deserve. Everyone is in complete control of their destiny.
This is because we all choose the genes we have, choose the random influences that impact our lives, have control over what we inherit, who helps us out, and we know in advance when we are making good or bad decisions involving equations in endless variables, many of which cannot be know in advance.
Social Darwinism, and Libertarianism, are built of course on radical selfishness, but also on the believer’s ludicrous and undeserved sense of self-sufficiency. Because life’s complex and twisted path, aided to some extent by a person’s efforts and choices to be sure but with an incredible level of serendipity required as well, leads the social Darwinist to some kind of perceived durable success, the social Darwinist concludes that he DESERVES what he has.
This of course despite the fact that in a sober moment even the most hardcore “capitalist” must acknowledge that he drove under the influence more than once without consequence, made some really bad decisions that luckily led to no lasting damage, associated with shady characters here and there who did not manage to leave any toxic stain by association, cut corners here or there on tax filings or business practices or whatnot, and no one noticed. Any of these things could have resulted in death or scandal or incarceration or some other infamy. But such petty details to focus on.
The free markets are the best mechanism we know for balancing the goals of prosperity, fairness, and the general aligning of rewards with talent and effort, but there are so many complexities, contingencies, and inequities in the flow of human interchange that it is impossible for a rational person to believe that “raw capitalism” is a viable system. There is no better than a good correlation between efforts and success.
Only those who suffer from an unearned narcissism and have elevated the Law of the Jungle to a religion because they appear to be a consistent beneficiary of that dynamic are ready to sign up for “You Keep What You Kill”. Until a roll of the dice goes down the wrong way. Then there’s invariably an orgy of backtracking.
I guess I’m a little surprised that Granulous, who abhors absolutism in most things, seems to be close to supporting it here. Catholic decency is patently incompatible with this notion.
Tim, your recent posts remind me of the following, from Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue:
“[I]n any given social situation it is frequently the case that many different transactions are taking place at one and the same time between members of the same group. Not one game is being played, but several, and, if the game metaphor may be stretched further, the problem about real life is that moving one’s knight to QB3 may always be replied to with a lob across the net.”
Again and again, you hammer away at the notion that anyone really “DESERVES” what he gets under capitalism. The problem with your ferocious assault is not that you are wrong; the problem is that you are the only person who is talking at all about what people deserve. Bailout proponents are advertising their preferred course of action as good economics; I and others are criticizing the bailouts as extraordinarily bad economics. Neither position has anything to do with what people deserve.
Your lob across the net is not chess, but it is an artful and entertaining lob, and I promise a response, but probably in a new thread and probably not tonight.
I keep hammering that notion because what underlies these dogmatic commitments to “letting the chips fall where they may” is laissez-faire capitalism, which is a religion based on what one thinks he deserves. It is a direct contradiction of the rather tidy recitation of Christian humility: “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.”
You and I are on the same page with the auto bailout, which is a nuanced solution. It is Uncle Sam as DIP financer in a prepackaged bailout — exactly what the article David linked was proposing.
Perhaps not from most of the personalities that inhabit you, but certainly from almost all of the ones that inhabit Ken, comes the Randian argument that letting those chips self-select their landing positions is “right” in a religious sense.
I tend to be black and white about things, but in what to do with the economy in unprecedented, extreme circumstances, David is the one who is right, that is to say, the trotting out of one sort of economic dogma or another is going to get us run over. We need genius and imagination, but of a practical sort.
I’m no fan of Socialism and I can’t stand the righteous isolation of the fortunate. The right answer is somewhere in between, it doesn’t have a name, and you need to bring equal measures of your brain and your conscience to find it.
I also know Ken is a good guy, for the record, and I would bet you dollars to donuts (a potential successor currency) that all that mountain retreat crap would melt away if the schidt really did hit the fan. Much of what we say we believe is for style — you find out who people are only when things are at their worst. And, like it or not, we are heading at Mach speed into the Discovery Zone.
Now I have to admit I find THIS very interesting. I had no idea that “Reasonable Minds” would be a place for ad hominem attacks. Even after but a short time here, it doesn’t quite seem so reasonable anymore. And I’ve always thought that making it personal was a fairly sure sign that one has few meaningful ways to address the issues. No?
(This also, interestingly, sounds very much like the writings of one of our other former housemates…)
I have no idea how we’re possibly dealing with “deserve” here. Nor do I for a minute believe that upholding the sanctity of individual freedom is somehow not congruent with Catholicism. In fact, without that God-given individual liberty, what are we but automatons. We can only truly do good by having the freedom to choose to do so. We can neither coerce others to do good, nor can we be coerced to do so. It is either done freely or it is not good. That darn free will…
Laissez faire capitalism and socialism (etc.) are not “religions”. They are economic systems for dealing with how human beings actually interact with each other, regardless of where they are in life “but for the grace of God”. Does one want to deal in a system in which the individual is free to succeed (or, maybe more importantly, fail) and where the only way to truly succeed is by serving others–OR one where some group of people may use force to make his fellow humans do what the group thinks is right or good (at that point in time)? I prefer the former, as I ever have. And I cannot envision a world where the latter could ever work, the God-given nature of human beings.
We have seen much too clearly (and continue now to see) where the coercion route takes us and how many people it hurts (or worse), but I fear, as you seem to Tim, that we ain’t seen nothing yet…
The benefit of freedom is far more important to the less fortunate than to the fortunate (in the sense I believe you’re trying to use the terms)–and represents the only real way the former can ever manage to become the latter without harming anyone.
It is the path of socialism we’ve long been on and continue down that has brought us to this point. And now, we are throwing more and more of the same at the problems. That is why we’re speeding to the Discovery Zone.
And what exactly are the “practical sorts” of “genius and imagination” we propose?? What sorts of solutions are being found out there by bringing “equal measures of your brain and your conscience” to find them? While all that hyperbole sounds lovely, you’ll have to forgive me for thinking that that’s all it is. It has no meaning–and outside of giving them false hopes, if that, has no way to benefit either the “less fortunate” or the “fortunate”.
But now we continue down the path of bailouts of entities that should fail (allowing the capital to be far better used in new ones to create who-knows-what great replacements yet to be)–and giving “mortgage holidays” (announced today by Fannie and Freddie) that keep the “less fortunate” from buying homes they could otherwise have afforded–and so on and so on, ad nauseum…
As for preparation and what one will really do, I can only strongly suggest that while you hope for the best–you (quietly) WELL prepare yourself and your family/loved ones for something a little-to-a-lot less than that. If the best does arrive, you’ll be no worse off, but if things ever do get to their worst–those very people are going to need to find out who certain other people really are!