Monday, April 14, 2008

The Economic Scale

I had another admirer leave a comment on my last blog, and it got my mind moving once again. This person claims that our fate is in the hands of the wealthiest 1% of Americans and that the economy's decline is their fault. That's about all you need to know of what was said, in case you don't want to go back and read it yourself.

The economy is obviously a very delicate thing. There's a way it can succeed and thrive, and about 10 million different ways that it can fail. This doesn't mean it's necessarily difficult to keep it going, it just means it's less likely for people to catch on and understand why it's falling to begin with. Since it is in fact so delicate, it requires a very special balance to run properly. Let's look at this balance as we would view a scale. On the right, you have the word "Economy" in big, bold letters. On the left, you have all our country's sources of income and all of it's products and services. If it's involved in the flow of money, it's on the left. The only thing unique about our scale is that it doesn't necessarily have to sit level. On our scale, the "Economy" side can sit at the top and that's just fine. "Economy," by the way, represents all the people.

The "humanitarians" have many common targets on this subject, but to keep things simple I'm going to use Wal-Mart for an example. Who hasn't heard the "bring down Wal-Mart" chant? This chant has one goal: to obliterate Wal-Mart simply because they don't like it. Let's look at our scale. Wal-Mart is a big company. They take up quite a bit of room on that scale. To simply pull Wal-Mart suddenly from the left side of our scale would be to let the right side, meaning all of us, sink. Why? To get rid of them so suddenly would mean an instantaneous loss of thousands of jobs and also bring production of countless products to halt. However, if you were to simply take your money elsewhere, you'd take part in a gradual shift from Wal-Mart to, say, Target. If everybody went to Target instead, all that "weight" placed by Wal-Mart would transfer rather than simply disappearing. Target builds more stores and, as they notice that Wal-Mart is only still there because they provide X service or Y product, they expand their services to take over completely. This balance is the beauty of Capitalism. This way, the company that wins is the company that provides the best products and service.

Wal-Mart's continued success is proof that plenty of people out there still see fit to shop there. That being said, it's time to drop it. That goes for every other company out there.

The response I received stating that control was all in the hands of the wealthiest 1% wasn't entirely false. There are indeed plenty of wealthy people shifting the laws to their advantage with political pull. If Sam Walton had stood behind and funded this or that politician, said politician would be sure to slip a subclause into a law somewhere that shifted the law to favor Mr. Walton over everybody else. And yes, this is in fact a very malicious practice. It too unfairly upsets the balance of our scale. It knocks out the competition by sheer force as opposed to the gradual shift.

Ultimately, however, this is not entirely the fault of the rich. Who's more evil, in the end? Is it the man who pulls the trigger or the man who let's the gun-man in? That second person is, in fact, the rest of society. It is every single individual person out there. Think about it honestly: could 1% of the population REALLY beat the other 99% if we didn't let them? They're winning by default. These people are getting their way because nobody is stopping them.

The absolute only thing speaking in any way in favor of us, the 99%, is that there's not a whole lot of leadership out there trying to actually call specific attention to these practices. Politicians thrive on it, so why should they genuinely try to stop it? The ones you could count on are the ones to don't have quite as much available for the ridiculous amounts of advertising. Candidates like my personal favorite, Ron Paul, focus more on restoring our laws to protect everybody equally than on how to bend the laws in order to get more support. Sadly, this is also why Ron Paul is so far behind. I don't know about the majority of the country, but I know in my community his name is almost completely unknown. This is where the blame comes back down on every individual in society. It's YOUR job to go out an learn about your potential president. It's not up to the TV ads to tell you everything. They just tell you what they think you want to hear. If you want to make a truly informed decision, you have to do some research for yourself.

This same apathy applies in other ways to the economic scale. What do you do for a living? Are you in a union? I'd bet that the VAST majority of you say, "No, I don't belong to a union." Why did unions start exactly? Back before minimum wage, people fought for their worth. If a company paid well, they kept reliable employees who strove to provide a great service for their company in exchange for a nice pay check. companies that didn't pay well wasted countless dollars training employee after employee to do the simplest of jobs because they thought it'd save them a few bucks to drop the wages down to nearly nothing. This, mind you, is still largely true today. However, the practice of fighting for your own worth wasn't always safe. People who went on strike because they didn't feel they were being properly rewarded for their work often lost their jobs. Unions played their hand in protecting jobs while workers were on strike. Somewhere along the way, however, people decided instead that it should be the Government's job to decide how much we make, and minimum wage was introduced.

Now, do you go out every day ready to work hard and try to provide a great service for a just pay check? Or do you do as I have done entirely too often and just take what the company gives you? Pay is distributed no longer by value or ability, but instead by the "politically correct" system of seniority. Now, the only way to make money is to stay put for a long period of time. This also has an adverse affect on the company. Who wants to go and put out decent work when they're not going to make any more money than the next guy who does half as much?

I realize there's a chance that this all seems incredibly scattered at this point, so to bring it together: our economy is on an obvious decline, and most people find it very easy to blame the minority of people for this. Unfortunately, when two sides are actually both FIGHTING for something, it's the majority that wins. This means that the fault lies not on a few rich people, but on EVERY PERSON LIVING AND WORKING IN THIS COUNTRY. If you're in the rich, there's a good chance that you don't recognize employees based on actual value but rather based on politically correct standards such as race, sex, or seniority. So what if your staff is all one race or all one sex, so long as they're all hard workers capable of doing the job you ask of them to it's fullest extent? If you're in the middle to low class, then your blame lies on your apathy. Either you have the leadership present around you to get out and fight for what you're worth, or you're too apathetic to stand out and become that leadership. It's a journey I've just begun on, but in just a couple of short months I've begun to lose count of the number of people I've converted to the views of Capitalism and, of course, of rationality. The latter is incredibly important because with that behind you, the rest practically works itself out.

Ultimately, if this country is to save itself, it has to start with individuals. Individuals have to step up and be worth something, then demand exactly what they're worth in return. Along the way, or political structure needs to be restructured to do what the government is in fact supposed to do: protect our assets. It is the government's Constitutional duty to protect us and our possessions equally. Nothing more. Not provide health care for everybody, not to provide welfare for everybody. They're supposed to GIVE nothing, only protect. The rest is up to you. It worked through the industrial revolution, just as it could work now if only people would be willing to actually put in a little effort.