Monday, July 02, 2012


"The definition of a parasite is some thing that lives off of others"

The blog Captain Capitalism has a bold statement on it: "money really doesn't exist." He doesn't mean that there's no such thing as currency, but that money is not what people think it is. Or, to put it another way, money has no value or concrete substance, it is representative of something else. He references Say Uncle:
Sure, some can be melted into components or made into fuel. But, by and large, it has no value. You can’t eat it or build stuff out of it. Heck, mostly it’s just digital 1s and 0s on a computer somewhere.
and himself notes that it's just a method of exchange. This is something I've brought up several times, particularly in the Depression Survival Kit, that money is the same thing as barter, made more convenient. You're trading your hours or your commodities or your cleverness for what the other person has, but you use these coupons called "dollars" or yen, or pounds or whatever to represent the valuables you have.

That's why changing to the gold standard is largely irrelevant; it still is just a method of representing barter, and given an arbitrary value. You haven't made your currency any more valuable or stable, just given it one more step in complexity.

But it is what Captain Capitalism says later in the article that really caught my attention:
Because if you think about it, a dollar doesn't do anything for you. It is the STUFF the dollar can purchase that does something for you.

So all the wars, all the votes, all the progressive taxation is NOT about somebody else's "money," it is about getting other people to forfeit their time to pay for the stuff you want to consume while sacrificing none of your time at all. It's about making other people pay for your "stuff." It's simply just slavery.
See, governments don't produce anything. Corporations don't produce anything. The man, the establishment, and the "wealthy" don't produce anything. People do. People are represented by all these groups, but these groups are simply organizations. They don't produce a thing. And this "stuff" is what we all need to survive, physically.

And when you break it down further, what people give to produce this stuff is time. They give up hours of labor and difficulty to produce something useful, which others then barter for using money. With that money, they can then go and barter for other things they need. In essence, people are exchanging their time for other peoples' time to get what they want and need.

In a sufficiently complex and advanced economy, you can get much more than you give in time. You eight hours work can provide thousands of hours of labor in devices, food, and energy which you cannot yourself provide. That's what "labor saving" devices are all about. Instead of taking the time to hand wash clothes or drag water out of the nearby stream, you simply turn on a device, constructed by other people out of materials that still other people collected.

So when you demand that other people give you "money" or "health care" or "a living wage" or "education" what you are demanding is that other people work and give up their time and lives so you don't have to. You're requiring that others give up their time, their labor, and their effort so that you can have what you want without giving anything up.

And when you demand it as a human right, you're assuming this material somehow is just floating around, like the economic oort cloud that Captain Capitalism mentions. As if this material shows up by government fiat or is in such abundance that you can just grab some off a shelf. As if you can simply take money and it produces materials without someone actually making it.

Take something very simple: pencil. Grab one, I'm sure you have a pencil nearby. That pencil consists of five components: graphite core, metal band, wooden shaft, rubber or plastic eraser, and paint. Its a simple device, but one that took thousands of years to develop. Its dirt cheap now, you can buy stacks of the things for a few dollars; or to put it another way, an hour of your labor could purchase enough pencils to last for years.

But to personally make a pencil you need to have a graphite mine, the ability to cut graphite out, and the technique shape it into rods. We're only talking about the "lead" and you already have gotten complicated because to get to that graphite you'll need to dig, and that means you need tools. So you have to make those first, but let's pretend you use your hands and a sharp rock.

Then you need wood. You need to shape that wood in such a manner that it has a consistent tube or gap in the center to hold the graphite without it falling out. Your pencil is going to look pretty crude but aesthetics are an entirely other topic. You're not done yet, but this has taken several days labor already. That pencil now costs you more than 16 hours worth of labor. Even at minimum wage that's over $100 US, but you have a bare minimum functioning pencil.

Now you paint the wood. That means you have to come up with some kind of dye, which means hunting the source down and collecting sufficient quantities to produce the color. You can't just dip the wood though, so you have to mix it with materials to produce a paste that will smear on and dry evenly.

When that's done you have to have a rubber tree, collect rubber (originally pumice or hard bread were used to erase writing, by the way), pour it into a mold and let it dry. This is actually the simplest step in the process. Rubber, by the way, got its name because of how it could be used to rub away pencil marks.

So now you must mine metal, smelt it (which means gathering fuel, crushing up the rocks for the purest ore, and creating a crucible of some material such as stone), purify it, roll it out into a sheet, cut it to size, and wrap it on your pencil to hold the eraser in place.

Now you have your pencil, the kind you grabbed earlier. Simple, cheap, common item, right? Of course to hand make your pencil you've probably had to make several failed attempts so you've wasted even more time and effort, so make it closer to 7 days labor, or over $400 US. For a pencil.

And this presumes you know exactly how to go about making this device, know where all the raw materials are, and didn't have to figure out how to put it together. No trial and error, no personal discovery or invention.

If you demand pencils, you demand all that labor other people have done, for free, for you. All those people have to give up their hours, lives, and effort for you to have a free pencil. And that's just a pencil. If you demand more complicated things, it gets far more expensive and difficult. And you demand that as if it somehow is your basic human right. Health care, a car, higher education, clothing, shelter, food, all the things you take for granted or demand someone else has to produce and that means lots of someones because nobody has the time or ability to gather it all at once.

A massive economy consisting of many other people - thousands, even - is behind everything you demand. And you demand that be done while you offer nothing in exchange. Captain Capitalism puts it this way:
You're not "independent." You're not "cool." And you're certainly not "oppressed" or "tyrannized" over. You're just parasites enslaving other people who actually produce stuff.
Forcing other people to do the work for you is not reasonable, just, or proper. Its evil, the kind of evil America went to war to stop (in part).

The problem is that people are so divorced from how an economy works, what it takes to produce anything, and how hard it was to get to the point we are now that they simply are unable to conceive of all this. It never occurs to them. All the work that goes into what they have is taken for granted, it is ignored. Meat comes in Styrofoam packages with plastic wrap, all bloodless and carefully cut. Water comes out of the faucet. Nobody has to do anything, the government just makes it happen. All the centuries of blood and sweat and tears and lifetimes it took to produce these basic amenities are simply alien to many people.

So they demand more, and do not care who has to work for them to get it. Rich people have money, take it from them and buy this stuff. That's as far as their calculation gets. The idea that the rich people got that money by doing something, whether this generation or in previous ones is irrelevant. They have more than me so I should get some, and that's that.

This parasitic enslavement of others so you can have what you desire is simply reprehensible, and what's worse is that its so easy to find people who will gladly exchange bits of what you demand for personal power. That there are politicians who have their entire career based on

And you know why it works? Because its easier to say "you should give your fair share, look at these poor people" than to explain all this. By the time you finish that little quote some people are already getting bored. Explaining all the economics and difficulty behind everything they demand and they aren't even paying attention halfway through.

And while sophistry and slick slogans are emotionally appealing and easily accessible, the truth isn't. People like being told about "social justice" and "fat cats" and "evil corporations." They don't really care to listen about hard work and real justice.

And ultimately, it takes personal responsibility and sacrifice to build a nation, it takes hard work to produce and contribute to society, and fewer people every day seem willing to even consider taking part. So we get the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act, Medicare, and a host of other ideas that mean well but ultimately are a greater evil.

Because they're simply unsustainable. They cannot continue. And even if they were not based on enslaving producers for the sake of an ever-growing parasitical portion of society, they will inevitably collapse. These systems are impossible to keep going forever. And when they collapse people are far, far worse off than they would have been had these structures never been in place. Because now these parasites have no skills, cultural inclination, or personal ability to produce anything or care for themselves.

You cannot kick a basically flawed, sinful, cursed world into fairness. You cannot make the world a utopia, and you never, ever will achieve "social justice." Trying to do so only makes matters worse. You are compounding the problem you seek to fix, at the cost of liberty and the dignity of everyone you claim to help.

1 comment:

Eric said...

There is a fireworks stand in front of my mom's house and I was over there this weekend. I was sitting on the back porch talking to mom and I gave my 10-year-old daughter and my 7-year-old nephew a few dollars each to run over to the fireworks stand and buy some Black Cats and sparklers to play with.

When they came back, my daughter was making fun of my nephew because he had gotten suckered out of some of his money: the salesperson at the fireworks stand ofered him 2-packages of 50 Black Cats for a dollar, or one package of 200 for a dollar. My nephew's 7-year-old logic told him that two packages had to be worth more than one package, thus earning himself an afternoon of taunts from my daughter.

Anyway, we all had a good chuckle about it and I spent a few futile minutes trying to explain to him why he made the wrong choice... but reading your post this morning sort of reminded me that when it comes to currency, most of us aren't behaving in a way that is much more informed than my nephew's fireworks buying skills!