Myth Busting-First of, Maybe, a Series

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April 20 2011

Let’s start off with the assumed efficiency of free enterprise. Now there’s a bogus claim for you.

Here’s a scenario we’re familiar with. The business world becomes excited about the potential profitability of a product range. Globally, companies spring up in pursuit of it. They generate jobs, personal, institutional and government investment in training, physical infrastructure and propaganda to promote buy-in. The vast majority will fail, some outright, some to takeovers. The reduced job pool will be further; perhaps drastically reduced by automation. Buildings will come to sit empty, idle and unmaintained (think Detroit), the resources pulled from the earth to build them crumbling, the value of erecting them falling far short of what was projected to justify the cost of doing so. Enterprising bunch that we are, this cycle does not limit itself to one range of products, it is endemic to production itself.

Out of those failures come job loss, mortgage default, broken marriages, drug abuse, spousal and child abuse, causes all of immense psychological distress and cost to the public purse. All of those will generate or create additional demand for ameliorative industries: policing, private or public social work, hospitals, government jobs, to name a few. A substantial portion of the costs of those are in fact unassigned costs of production. It’s not much of a stretch to add gambling, pornography, and mindless, stupifying television to the list, the kind of ‘products’ people buy to compensate for one level or another or dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is a great economic driver. Granted it does create jobs, but hardly on the plus side of things. It is all, however, part of the Gross National Product and therefore a statistical indicator of economic vigor.

Then there are the non-GNP items…deforestation, desertification, species loss, resource depletion and ongoing etceteras.

Riding high and overseeing this, reins to hand, sits a thin, sociopathic elite of human beings living in assumed and presumed grandeur completely out of sync with the passing nature of their existence. I have trouble seeing the net efficiencies of this, let alone the intelligence or the fulfillment of human potential. As gardens go their glorious foliage and blossoms hardly compensate for areas of utter global drabness.

Unlikely as it is that they will come across this piece, any folks feel inclined to holler “COMMY,” in response to it should give their head a shake. It has been made quite clear what an authoritarian horror human beings can turn socialism into.

I don’t think there is an answer to be found in a ‘system.’ Something useful might come out of a set of values.

We should consider the demonstrable advantages of balance, of flying with two wings, not with one or the other foreshortened, and of accumulating only the weight, personally and materially, that will allow us to at least become and remain operationally airborne.

Right now there are pretty-well zero signs at global or national political levels of any substantive dialogue, let alone action, aimed at forestalling or altogether avoiding the consequences for ourselves of our metastasizing all over the surface of the planet and delving maniacally beneath it for more of the means to do so. If we don’t acknowledge and deal with that overarching issue and generate the will and ways to bring our reproductive instincts under control, this planet, far more akin to a vessel or to a living organism than any castle, is going to rid itself of most of us. And then what will be the net effectiveness of all the effort to reduce the suffering and improve the lot of our species?

On the other hand, human beings have been particularly prone to moving quickly to dispose of one another in great numbers before nature gets around to it, sometimes literally by the millions, so perhaps an ability to identify with one another on a global scale is beyond us.

And perhaps it is just the universe at work when I rest from my labors at the keyboard, pick up a new David Rosenfelt novel called Dog Tags and read “Dogs almost unanimously possess dignity, compassion and innate intelligence. In these areas, humans tend to be a little more hit and miss.”


My Empathetic Pal Charlie

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