Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Poverty Is Man Made"??? - The Anti-Thesis Of My "Heat & Absence Of Heat" Theory

As strong as my opinions may seem at times I believe that I go out of my way to sample other people's views as a means of checking myself against the reality of the world. One such occasion was my review of an interview of leftwing feminist author Katha Pollitt who is a contributor to "The Nation Magazine". One thing that I must admit is that she displayed a high level of intelligence based on her ability to respond to questions that were thrown at her. A person's ability to present the rationale of how they arrived at such a conclusion, absent any logical leaps is a requirement that I have in crediting them with such a complement.

The one key logical leap that she made, however, provoked me to write this blog entry. Ms. Pollitt stated "Poverty is man made". She went on to make the case that poverty is the result of a system's acceptance of "inequality" and, no surprise, the rich should be taxed as the primary means of addressing this in equality.

People - there are few occasions in which my own line of thinking is allowed to be placed in such stark contrast to that of my common ideological adversary. I 100% reject Ms. Pollitt's notion as utter foolishness and the grounds for socialistic policies that trample property rights in the name of what they term "the greater good". This is a "greater good" that never seems to come forth. By the time this is realized, however, the damage is done and it is the people and their will to be free from the oppressive government's attempt to "make equal" who suffer the most.

Anyone who reads my views knows that my view is the reverse of Ms. Pollitt's. I am of the opinion that "WEALTH is the creation of man". I have recounted several times the knowledge that I obtained in high school from my physics teacher. He told us that "it is not proper to say "hot and cold" when speaking in terms of physics. The proper term is 'heat' and "the absence of heat'. This means that HEAT is an energy force. When applied to a body of matter that is otherwise free of heat and thus COLD then our bodies sense the presence of heat and thus the proper termination is established.

Likewise when it comes to economic matters of wealth and poverty - in my view - it is more accurate to make mention of a person who is positioned inside of a system that creates wealth and then a person who is depositioned in a system and thus is not able to procure wealth for their own use. Any attempt to rationalize this any other way only clouds the key focus that those who are impoverished should focus their energies toward. (I know what you are thinking - I will address this later).

At the fundamental level - we are in a market system. We are "selling our skills" and our employers are "purchasing our skills and labor" to achieve their own greater goal. If you increase the value and/or have unique skills that are of value chances are you increase the pay in the exchange.

Now just what were you thinking is the hole in my argument a few paragraphs above? SLAVERY!!!! When society was ordered so that a person did not have the free will to follow his own best interests then regardless of how much he attempted to improve his value - he received no benefit - his "owner" received the benefit. Why work harder or become more efficient when the next man is the beneficiary rather than you? I AGREE!

I can agree that the job of government is to create a body of laws and enforcement actions by which every man's basic human rights are protected and that any violators of these rights are punishable by sanction or arrest. Slavery was a perversion of human rights. The early industrial era and Jim Crow era sharecropping were also periods of economic exploitation. The owners received an undue share of the proceeds from operations and the workers were impoverished despite working hard and long. My take on the correction to this situation is not as is popularly considered though. I am in full support of collective bargaining where the base of workers who are resources to the corporation are empowered with the right to represent the collective interests of the labor force as a means of setting the pay rate and benefit package. To have one worker go in and stand on his own against the owners is not the means by which a "fair" market equilibrium can be achieved.

At the same time the injection of ACTIVIST government policies where the GOVERNMENT is seen as an agent AGAINST the corporation, to keep it in check is just as abominable as the situation when the corporations held sway against the workers and the governments via kickbacks for that matter. The government's role should be to act as an impartial arbiter to insure that a reasonable market equilibrium is produced not an ENGINEERED solution that reflects the strong bias of those who are in power.

Back to the key point at hand though. Ms. Pollitt's reasoning is troubling in that the first thing I thought of when I heard her say that "man creates poverty" is the view of a refugee camp in Chad or Laos. Using her logic their LACK of resources are due to a failure of some enveloping system to cast them into its safety net. The truth is that there is no such system that is present by default neither globally or locally. It is, in fact, the reverse. Poverty and destitution is the evidence of the LACK OF a system that, upon managing the environment can produce more favorable outcomes.

Would anyone argue with me if I said that the defacto state of the patch of land outside of my house which I took my lawn mower to this morning is that of weeds that grow until the weather kills them off and the entire cycle starts against next year during the warm season? It appears to me that Ms. Pollitt's argument would have us to believe that upon seeing the unkept grasses on the side of the road that I often drive past - I am witnessing societal break down - that is a failure to craft these areas into the manicured lawns that they should be. I am not attempting to create a straw man that I can then tear down. The fact is that this is a logical extension of her reasoning and it in fact places the incumbency upon the GOVERNMENT to manicure all of our lawns rather than upon the people themselves to work in a way so that first they optimize their own utility and then, of course, go throughout society seeking out exceptions that needed to be tended to because of their lack of ability to "cut their own lawns".

Most importantly we should not only consider the short term state of having "no poverty" (which certainly could be accomplished if we were to confiscate all of the wealth from the wealthy and hand it out). We should consider the LONG term impact regarding the societal conditioning that is inculcated upon the people with the acceptance of certain societal rules of social order. Do you recall my sentence regarding how SLAVERY was unjust because it confiscated an individual's free will toward working in his own best interest, the extra work going to benefit his own wallet? Well in the world of "government manicured outcomes"....slave like conditions are created as the reward for that next incremental unit of work - is not to your benefit.

Is there anyone who noted an increase in entrepreneurial spirit after the various Soviet bloc nations endured decades of engineering?

2 comments:

crystal haidl said...

I found your blog today googling "antithesis- thesis." I enjoyed your writing and thought stream.

I disagree with you on poverty, though.
You wrote: "We are "selling our skills" and our employers are "purchasing our skills and labor" to achieve their own greater goal. If you increase the value and/or have unique skills that are of value chances are you increase the pay in the exchange."

Your assumptions are: 1.a) everyone is capable and empowered to increase their value to an employer or client 1.b)this will create increased pay to those hard-working persistant folks.

Yet, you also admit slavery disallowed that dynamic. The rich, even without slavery, are the modern day "owners." While there will always be a pecentage of employees or the poor who will be valued (and sometimes over-valued) for their work, there are many of us-- the educated and just plain-old hard working included-- who are not valued financially. The reason is the free market system values popularity/entertainment over infrastructure/intellect-creativity.
Just take a look at Facebook-- its birth, influence and how all the execs are trying to figure out how to commoditize it-- to measure how our economy de-values the important things like education, culture, fair play.

Since you wrote this in July and I'm replying in October (post-$700 billion bailout) I won't even bring that up as further example.

PS. i need tech help. What's your specialty?

Constructive Feedback said...

Crystal:

Thanks for your comments. Here are my responses:

[quote]Your assumptions are: 1.a) everyone is capable and empowered to increase their value to an employer or client[/quote]

I would hope that you believe this is the case as well. Tell me a circumstance that this is not the case - with the assumption that we are dealing with free people of today in America.

[quote] 1.b)this will create increased pay to those hard-working persistant folks.[/quote]

I am troubled by your use of the term "hard working" but I will accept it. I am also making the case that a person can study and thus build up a different skill set and thus depart for an entirely different field of work.

[quote]
Yet, you also admit slavery disallowed that dynamic. The rich, even without slavery, are the modern day "owners."[/quote]

This is a bit of a stretch.

Slavery was a human rights violation. The law allowed "the owners" to treat their "human property" without any particular regard to their humanity.

The "owners" of today operate within a framework of law and labor practices that are far, far different than that of "slavery times".

There is little comparison.

[quote]
While there will always be a pecentage of employees or the poor who will be valued (and sometimes over-valued) for their work, there are many of us-- the educated and just plain-old hard working included-- who are not valued financially. The reason is the free market system values popularity/entertainment over infrastructure/intellect-creativity.
[/quote]

I faced the same situation in my career about 15 years ago. I was underpaid and over worked. I realized that I would have to be the one to step out and ACHIEVE the value that I believed that my skills and knowledge were worth.

[quote]
Just take a look at Facebook-- its birth, influence and how all the execs are trying to figure out how to commoditize it-- to measure how our economy de-values the important things like education, culture, fair play.[/quote]

I could not disagree with you more.
Most of these hi-tech ventures are created for the express purposes of cashing out and allowing a corporation to pay the founder billions of dollars.

Mark Cuban, the 2 guys from Google,Steve Jobs, the list goes on - all got wealthy by translating their ideas into hi-tec products.

The valuation of such products is a factor of the popularity of them and how they can be used as a platform for advertising to the millions of people who visit.

[quote]
Since you wrote this in July and I'm replying in October (post-$700 billion bailout) I won't even bring that up as further example.[/quote]

Bring it up.
The $700 billion bailout enjoyed popular support among the various ideologies. On the one end if the banks collapsed - the people (employees, borrowers, etc) get hurt. On the other hand if the banks foreclosed on the mortgages many people get thrown out of their houses.

This was not just about the banks.