Monday, August 17, 2015

The Worse the Better

Why doesn't everyone agree that capitalism is the biggest boon to humans ever and let it flourish? With a little law in there to punish frauds and thieves.

I mean, in the 200 years of the Great Enrichment per capita income in the areas under the sway of capitalist ideology has gone from $1-3 per day to $120 per day. That's inflation-corrected dollars. You can see this in a chart from lefty Vox.

Glenn Reynolds has a quick answer to this. Capitalism gets a bad press because capitalism has "insufficient opportunities for graft."

I like to be a little more sophisticated. We humans have survived down the ages partly by cooperating, doing things for other people. But we have also survived by loot and plunder, with the dawn raid, with buccaneering and freeloading.

Wilfred Thesiger tells how loot and plunder really do have a place in the human story in his travel book, Arabian Sands. In southern Arabia people live by grazing sheep and goats in a land where a particular patch of land may only get rain once in two years. So the trick to survival is to know where the rain just fell so you can get your flocks there when the grass sprouts and the desert grows green for a season.

But suppose you are just unlucky and your sheep all die of hunger. What then? Well, southern Arabia has a culture of raiding. So your last resort is to raid your luckier neighbor and take off with some of his animals. But the rules say that you don't touch the women and children.

Hey. It works.

But how much of that do we need in the modern economy where there is real abundance and nobody need go without?

Not much, but there are still plenty of people that like the adventurous life, and the thrill of the chase, not to mention the lamentation of the women. Many people, particularly the people that go into activism and politics, like to lord it over other people. Because.

We have intellectuals that want to look down on businessmen, as Whole Foods CEO John Mackey observes:
Intellectuals have always disdained commerce... So the intellectuals have always sided kind of with the aristocrats to maintain a society where the businesspeople were kind of kept down.
We have an example of this in a recent New York Times article painting a lurid picture of life "Inside Amazon." Well, I dare say it is a "bruising workplace," even if an Amazonian like Nick Ciubotariu disagrees in a flood of corporate-speak. People go work at a place like Amazon because they want to be in a challenging group where only the best need apply. Think the corporate equivalent of Special Forces. If you don't like that sort of challenge then don't go work for Amazon.

And that's the miracle of capitalism. It takes ambitious aggressive guys like Nick Ciubotariu and puts him to work creating an amazing company that is revolutionizing retail. Just think: in former ages he might have been stealing cattle. Or marching across Europe. Or fomenting political revolution.

But there are always people that want to resort to force. Just now in America they are people like the gay marriage advocates that want to punish Christians that don't agree with their religious views on marriage.

Oh, of course, nearly everyone that supports gay marriage agrees that gays ought to be allowed to marry like everybody else. But Matt Barber reminds us that the core activists have another agenda: to "render marriage reality meaningless."
Masha Gessen, a lesbian journalist, activist and author, expressly admitted this fact in a 2012 interview with ABC Radio: “It’s a no-brainer that [homosexuals] should have the right to marry,” she said. “But I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. … [F]ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there – because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.”
So that's not going to end well.

Glenn Reynolds also likes to rehearse the tweet from Jon Gabriel: "The best part about the Obama era is all the racial healing."

Our progressive friends have had a pretty good run in the Obama era, because President Obama has encouraged his supporters to go for the gold. They haven't tried to build consensus; they've just pushed their cultural and political power to the max and rolled over their opponents.

The thing about limited government and the rule of law is that it is designed to stop that sort of thing, because the abuse of power builds rage and resentment in the people on the receiving end.

For a conservative like me there is a Leninist quality to the Obama overreach: the worse the better. The American people need to really see that they don't like what Obama and the Obamis have done to America, so we can build a movement of reform.

But how do you roll back the oppressions and the injustices of the Obamis without making yet another "community" angry?

I don't know. Because the whole point of the left is to exploit anger and blow it up into a political movement.

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