Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Better Deal for Americans

Last Sunday Chuck Schumer came out with a "Better Deal" program for Democrats going forward. According to IBD it is nothing new, just the usual Democratic program list, including a higher minimum wage, negotiated drug prices, new anti-trust vigor, and corporate tax credits and training for displaced workers.

So nothing new.

Seriously, what should government be doing in the immediate future to protect Americans?

First, what government should not be doing is mucking up the labor market with minimum wages. There is only one minimum wage: $0.00. That is the wage you get paid for your first internship, or the first months of your apprenticeship. Nor should they be mucking about with drug prices. Maybe we should encourage the drug companies to license their drugs, or ease up on the stifling FDA regulation. But mucking about with the price system is baloney. Nor should we start mucking about with anti-trust. What good did it do with Standard Oil? Or IBM? Or AT&T? In all three cases, the government acted just as the market did for the monopoly: by discovering oil in Texas (as in Texaco), by dumping the mainframe world for minicomputers and desktop microcomputers, and by changing the phone world forever. And what good did regulation do for the railroads except put them to sleep for a century?

But I get the Democrats and what they are doing. Government is force, so if you are close to the levers of power, you think about what you can do to use government power to reward your supporters.

But what should, what could government be doing to help and protect the American people?

Let us look at a few Big Problems in the world today.

First, there is the baby drought. In Japan, young people are turning off sex and family. In Germany, 30 percent of adult women are childless. Here in the US the liberal left is anti marriage and family all the way. I am talking about the sexual revolution that makes women into sex objects; feminism, that teaches women not to have children; the whole LGBT cult that leads young people to vote themselves off the planet. And the whole left-wing culture that encourages people to live as subordinate serfs instead of as responsible individuals.

The fact is that the only way for about 97 percent of people to have a meaningful life is to get married and have children. And grandchildren. Unless you are Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs or Barack Obama nobody will remember your name except your descendants. Your claim to immortality will not be in some amazing work of creative innovation, but in the children you created with your wife. Over the past century and more we have taught the sons and daughters of the educated that the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is to live a creative life, writing a novel, starting a company, advocating for justice. This is mere conceit. Creativity is having children.

Second, there is the world of work. Everybody says that we will all have our jobs taken by robots, and maybe they are right. But "everybody" has been wrong about just about everything in the last 200 years, so I am not holding my breath.  Let us try to think about this differently.

In the old days of the hunter-gatherers, men defended the borders of the tribe, and women gathered the food and raised the children. The meaning of life, the universe, and everything was to hang onto your patch of territory and create enough children to defend and propagate in that territory. But then the world changed.

In the agricultural age men were not all needed to defend the borders, so what were they to do? Peel potatoes? Fortunately there was something for them to do. It was to plow the fields. Plowing was heavy work and women tended to miscarry if they did the plowing. Yay! Men were not surplus population. But women still did nearly all the work of child-bearing, -raising, and food preparation. And, of course, all the men could be called upon, on occasion, to serve in the lord's army. The meaning of life was to find yourself a powerful lord and be his loyal retainer, and cultivate his fields in return for his protection. But then the world changed.

In the industrial age all men were not needed to defend the borders or even to plow the fields. So what were they to do? Well, it turned out that there was plenty for them to do. They could work in mines and factories. They could work in offices clerking and managing. They could range the world trading and transporting goods and services. They could work out their aggressiveness in the new concept of sports. Women started out doing nearly all the work of child-bearing, -raising, and food preparation, but as time went by children could be dumped off in government schools, and food preparation became absorbed into the exchange economy so that food could be bought rather than laboriously processed and preserved at home. And women started to emerge from 24-7 work at home into the public sphere where they joined men in factory and office. But then the world changed.

In the new age that is aborning, we are told, we humans will not have to do the routine work of resource extraction and processing, and the routing clerking and supervising as of old. So what shall we do; where shall we go?

We don't know. But here is what I think. We will still be social animals, still cooperating with each other in the basic activity of wiving and thriving. We will still be doing things for each other, probably under the price system, or rather the emergent phenomenon of price-driven production and exchange and service. The best way to wive and thrive will be to pay attention to the signals that the price system and other people are giving us. So what do we do? I think the best way is to come up with a list of Don'ts.

Don't think you can hide in a big government or big corporation. These big organizations, like armies down the ages, make promises to you that they will not keep. Because when the going gets tough, the government or the corporation will dump you to preserve itself. So you should live and work out in the open, where you receive the signals of the price system and are obliged to respond to them, right now. The longer you put it off, the deeper you will be in the hole when the big unit dumps you by the side of the road.

Don't listen to the left, on work, on sex, on marginalization, on exploitation, on anything. The lesson of the last 150 years is that the left promised the workers a Promised Land, and then left them in the lurch circa 1965. Then the left promised women and minorities a Promised Land, and I'd say that the results are in. In the west, women are less happy than they used to be, and minorities don't seem to feel any better than they did back in 1965, if you listen to the lefty activists. Don't follow the lefty Moses. He doesn't care about you, he only cares about his power.

Don't worship the god of creativity. Go ahead, be creative, serve your fellow man; find a woman to love and marry her; create children; give back to your community. But don't imagine yourself a s world-conquering creative genius. If you do, you are worshiping a false god, and you will sow tares and misery among the wheat.

You can see that my view of the future has almost nothing to do with government. This is not surprising. There is a reason for this. In the old days, life was always subordinate to the village Big Man or the local lord of the land, or the absolute monarch and his courtiers. But the last two hundred years has seen an astonishing transformation. Now we are all subject to the prompting of the price system, and we have a choice: believe in the local lord, who is not interested in you, but in his power. Or believe in the price system, and do what it prompts.

The point is that the price system is a much better lord than the local political boss. For one thing, it doesn't lie to you. It tells you exactly where you stand, all the time.

Of course, that is why people try to escape from the price system into the neo-feudalism of government or the corporation. They don't want to deal with the truth; they want to live a fantasy.

But you and I are not like that. No Sirree.

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