Monday, August 1, 2016

On Rattlesnake Mountain

A couple of days ago, on my 70th birthday, Lady Marjorie and I hiked up Rattlesnake Mountain, about 30 miles east of Seattle, to Rattlesnake Ledge, where you can look out at North Bend, Washington, and the trucks coming down I-90 from Snoqualmie Pass.

Naturally, when we reached the ledge we had lunch. As everybody knows, the whole point of hiking is: Lunch. Of course, I parked myself right next to a chasm in the rock where I had to give pretty girls a hand if they didn't fancy jumping across like a guy.

But we were both amazed at the people on the trail. Apart from the white guys out for a hike together and the white girls and the odd white family, there were tons of East Asian families on the trail. And a ton of South Asians too. Many were clearly immigrants, but their children were not. I suppose that Amazon and Microsoft had let out for the day.

Oh, and there were even some African Americans on the trail, which is unusual. And one Muslim couple -- you could tell because the man was dressed American while his wife wore a proper head scarf and associated paraphernalia.

It's helpful to see Americans and future Americans out on the trail, far from a political convention or a peaceful protest or an MSM camera. There they were living their lives, out with friends and family, and passing each other on the trail in perfect amity.

When we got back to the car we fell into conversion with three California girls who wanted to see a waterfall. And I thought that California girls went out with the Beach Boys.

The point is -- apart from lunch -- that we tend to forget that while some damn politician is hard at work dividing people, capitalism is hard at work mixing them up. That's because capitalism is about two things: innovation and trust.

Well, that's not quite correct. Capitalism starts with you trying to figure out how to serve the market so you can earn a living. If you are really smart you figure out something new, something you think can work but that other people don't. You innovate, and if you are really lucky you change the world and add to the Great Enrichment of the last 200 years. But it is still worthy and honorable just to find a job that pays a decent wage.

The other thing is trust. This is not merely because trusting is a good thing, and the basis of humans as social animals. Trust is a cost reduction device and a wealth multiplication device. The more people you can trust the bigger your market.

It makes me think about the amazing disconnect in the modern world. Here we have the Great Enrichment, the absolutely amazing 3,000 percent rise in per-capita income in 200 years, born and bred from capitalism, and all fashionable people think it stinks. So we also have the most amazing reactionary political movement: socialism, progressivism, fascism; that are all harking back to the old ways: the equality of the village, the hierarchy of the feudal estate, the instinctive ties of tribe and blood. And the most advanced thinkers are supposed to be the chaps advocating Back to the Future. What's wrong with this picture?

Here we are in 2016 with the glorious choice between Trump and Clinton, between back to Fifties when the white working class had good jobs at good wages and the race/gender poisonous politics of the liberal elite.

Yet, day by day, hour by hour, capitalism is bringing people together, in work, and in consumption, and in innocent sharing of the delights of a hike followed by lunch on Rattlesnake Mountain.

Maybe there is hope for the future, after all.

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