Friday, September 17, 2010

Slaves in All But Name?

Will Durant once said "Civilization exists at the consent of geology, subject to change without notice". Anyone who doesn't believe or understand that..., well, let's hope Yellowstone doesn't blow up to empirically validate that statement.

I offer a corollary: "Your job exists at the whim of the market, subject to change without notice".

Do you owe rich people your job? From my perspective, that is a poorly disguised rationalization of feudalism. That's something a serf or a slave would say. "Oh, thank you for my job, my lord" with a tug of the forelock and an averted gaze kind of argument. That is Corporatism, which is just another version of Statism. 

My response to that argument, quite logically and bluntly,  is Bull-Shit. 

Market demand created your job. That rich person was merely a conduit of money. If you really beleive that rich people and corporations created your jobs, go and lick boots, you lackey, you hunchbacked henchman, you dung-covered stooge. Go back to Year 880 where you belong. You got no self-respect. You can't even admit the worth of your own labor. 

Anyone who insists that they were successful solely based upon hard work is a complete ignoramus.  They got a lot of explaining to do, starting off with how they managed to pop out of thin air with all of their talents developed, their faculties in full bloom, their knowledge intact, and the aching void of the market and society miraculously vacant - that empty seat at the banquet to be waiting just for their soft watery buttocks to show up and fill that special place.

I'm sorry, no. Hard work alone did not get you to where you are. Luck. Luck is at least 70% of what you are. Lucky to be born in the developed world. Lucky to make it into adulthood. Lucky to be sound of wind and limb. Lucky to have the right kind of parents, teachers, mentors, coworkers, partially sane bosses, chance encounters, kind strangers, family, friends, neighbors that all lead to opportunity; in short, lucky to live in an egalitarian and lawful human society that nurtures and sustains you. If you refuse to recognize that, well, maybe we should ship you to Somalia or Mexico so you can truly understand your good fortune, what tyranny really means, what real hard work is like. No, I mean really real hard work. Really real hard work like really real starvation. Not "I haven't eaten all day" starvation. So, maybe, just maybe, you owe something back, and probably a lot more than you think you owe. 
Which suggests still another maxim: "The market exists at the consent of the governed". 

Don't believe that? Read up on the French or Russian Revolution sometime. Or the downfall of the Soviet Empire. Those were a revolt against economic conditions. Markets swim within an ocean of government. There is no such thing as a free market. Markets do not exist without rules and laws of behavior. And, unless you are one of those goo-goo-eyed wobble-headed Libertarians of that crypto-anarcho-capitalist stripe that live in candy cane houses on gumdrop lane in candyland village and believes that everyone can get along and practice self-restraint, you recognize that markets are neither efficient, nor rational, nor self-correcting, and a certain amount of government restraint is necessary. 

The question then is how much. Which, on the five to ten dimensions of political identity, boils down to the merit vs. equality axis. What is fair? As a liberal, I appreciate merit more than a conservative could possibly know or admit, but I side on equality more than merit. 

The statement (amended to the more modern statement): "All people are created equal" is a statement so easily disproved, you wonder what was going through Jefferson's head. What a starry-eyed dreamer! Why the very idea of "fairness" is childish, no?

Uh, well, no. It's the whole fucking foundation of what it means to be a civilized people. It's about time we got back to that.


  1. Neal Boortz was fond of saying that he was successful because of his hard work and it had nothing to do with luck...however, I never tried to call him on it because he would not have listened and would have been rude and I'm not articulate enough to respond in kind...

    Don't forget the big difference between 'fair' and 'equal'...

  2. Who the fuck is Neal Boortz, and how can he possibly be of any significance since I don't know about him?

    Oh never mind, I just googled him.

    Like I said, who the fuck is Neal Boortz...

  3. I think he meant that every baby that pops out is equal. It's the circumstances of it's birth that beats it down. Babies are equal, life is not.