We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our friend Jonah Goldberg on Prosperity and It's Discontents. Poverty and trouble is, indeed, man's default condition. One quote:
The interesting question isn’t “Why is there poverty?” It’s “Why is there wealth?” Or: “Why is there prosperity here but not there?”
At the end of the day, the first answer is capitalism, rightly understood. That is to say: free markets, private property, the spirit of entrepreneurialism and the conviction that the fruits of your labors are your own.
For generations, many thought prosperity was material stuff: factories and forests, gold mines and gross tons of concrete poured. But we now know that these things are merely the fringe benefits of wealth. Stalin built his factories, Mao paved over the peasants. But all that truly prospered was misery and alienation.
A recent World Bank study found that a nation’s wealth resides in its “intangible capital” — its laws, institutions, skills, smarts and cultural assumptions. “Natural capital” (minerals, croplands, etc.) and “produced capital” (factories, roads, and so on) account for less than a quarter of the planet’s wealth. In America, intangible capital — the stuff in our heads, our hearts, and our books — accounts for 82 percent of our wealth.
Any number of countries in Africa are vastly richer in baubles and soil than Switzerland. But they are poor because they are impoverished in what they value.
I read something that really struck home with me: employees are consumers. Companies seem to have completely forgotten that. The car companies are in trouble. I'd love to replace my aging car, but it's not going to happen on the $11 an hour my company pays me. Think of GM getting rid of those high paid employees to hire new ones at $14 an hour. How do they expect to sell cars to someone making those wages? We have the Fed determined to prevent wages from rising, even though real wages have been dropping since the 70s. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Teri - Real wages have not been dropping since the 70's. It's a Myth.
General comment. PJ O'Rourke's Eat The Rich is the most entertaining explanation for all this.
Assistant Village Idiot
Ron - Jonah understands markets. He also understands people and went spiritual when appropriate.
Teri - The 'facts' that everyone knows are very seldom proved. They are presented as perceptions and what everyone feels. And you know what you feel -- must be right. Unfortunately, what you feel may be affected by what you ate last night.
You seem so concerned that people will continually work for significantly less than what they are worth. My experience is - that is not true. My experience is as an employer.
I will admit that many people have an extremely inflated view of what they can do or what they are worth.
Teri, look at that $11 as your price for an hour of your time. Then ask yourself if you have ever in your life made an effort to pay more than the price when you bought something.
Besides, since it's a free country, you're not required to sell that hour at that or any other price.
Yes I understand about personal circumstances, but those can't be a factor of the trade between you and the buyer of your hour. Your hour is being bought by numbers, by the ratios on a P&L statement and a balance sheet. This is business, the standard for-profit enterprise model.
Emotions and circumstances are factors in family, church, school, & community -- but can't be factored in the competitive world of business, which must be concerned with profits, which alone can build capital, which alone can enable growth, which alone increases demand for labor, which alone raises the price of supply.
Growth is key -- and much of the energy for it is these days being balked and thwarted by misguided and shortsighted politics.
PS, if the Fed was simply trying to hold down wages, right, that would be stupid stupid stupid -- and why would it do so? Of course that meme falls easily into the cartoon of capital screwing labor, but really, if it is as you say, capital would just be screwing itself out of a return, & foreclosing the future. Why would the Fed commit suicide?
The truth is -- and the false meme comes from the agenda media's crap reporting -- the Fed is interested in a ratio -- the ratio of wages to output. Any & every enterprise worth a record keeps that record in a ledger -- a ledger has two sides to record the results of double-entry bookeeping -- double-entry to reflect the truth that in nature everything is a ratio, and the question for any de-contexted fact is always "compared to what?"