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  •  I have thought about writing a diary on "earn" (1+ / 0-)
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    that is, the whole right-wing take on what people are owed, what they are entitled to, what they deserve for the "sweat of their brow".

    It's my notion that most of what we humans get & have, we inherit. We live on an amazing planet, luckily situated in an energy-rich star system so as to be not too hot or cold, & with a solid surface, & liquid water, & useful resources all around, & we are surrounded & sustained by a wonderful self-replenishing bio-sphere, both beautiful & bountiful.

     We are the result of thousands of millions of years of evolution - our bodies & brains "earned" by the deaths of billions of  ancestors. We inherit the form & being & idea of our progenitors - speech & gesture, emotional expression, language, writing, thought.

    We have paid nothing for algebra, & astronomy, & arithmetic, & the crafts of agriculture & architecture. In fact, I always took it as a huge joke, that Ayn Rand had her "individualist" hero be an architect - no other profession is so reliant on the handicrafts & artisanship of others, from glass melters to metal fabricators, nail makers, lumber sawyers, concrete pourers, chemists, engineers, draftsmen, brick makers, string winders. To imagine an architect without society & culture is to imagine a conductor without an orchestra.

    The individual does not exist who knows the way of all the works of men - organic chemistry, quantum physics, hydraulics, medicine, aerodynamics, machine making of all kinds - all the things that come together to make the world we live in.

     I've challenged Libertarians - go into the wilderness with enough camping supplies to keep you alive, &, when you've made a working light bulb (not even the means to create an electric current to make it glow), you can return to the infra structure you say you have no use for. Let's see how many years, or lifetimes, it would take for these "rugged individualists" to come to appreciate how much they get from their fellow humans. If they could even make a bit of glass, I'd be inclined to give them a C minus & let them back in - but I'll bet not one in a thousand could get close to it.

    And why is a hedge-fund manager, who creates economic chaos for profit (profit - by definition, something got for giving nothing back), paid more than a nurse, who sometimes must work triple shifts, & routinely saves lives? Why is he paid more than a garbage man, who at least is doing something supremely useful?

    The right-wing holds that it's the market that determines the value of an individual's compensation (unless inherited, of course - see Bush, W.) - that talented people, like top ball-players, are at a premium, & must be payed what they command, or they'll go elsewhere. But when CEOs are paid by boards that their friends & they themselves belong to, & are paid even when they fail & cause ruin for others, & given golden parachutes to ease their leaving - when the government is bought & bribed by these same richlings, so it rewards them with contracts, & tax breaks, & subsidies, & perks & privileges & Supreme Court judgements in their favor - what market is that? The market of monopoly, where once advantage is gained, the whole board is taken.

    And the rich say that they are the ones that encourage new ideas - they are the entrepreneurs, the supporters of new invention. But General Sarnof stole the idea for TV from Philo Farnsworth, & Bill Gates did not invent the DOS computer program that his fortune was based on. Singer got the idea for the sewing machine from Howe, Mellows produced the first home refrigerator, but was bought out by Durant, who created Frigidaire, & Alexander Cartwright first codified baseball, although most people think it was Abner Doubleday. At most, you can say the rich have a leg up in exploiting the ideas of others - what useful thing do they in fact create, that is not tainted by rapaciousness? That technologies can bring ease & delight, is somehow corrupted to bringing disease, pollution & overweening profit.

    A tidal wave of new knowledge & technology & invention is about to break upon us. Will the great discoveries of the next few years be held to benefit only those who can buy stock options? Or does the patrimony of genius & culture passed on freely from one generation to the next accrue to us all - haven't we all "earned" the benefits of mankind's collected knowledge, just by being human?

    If we fairly applied the science we have right now, the Earth could be a paradise for every human on it.

    "Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right." - Isaac Asimov

    by greenotron on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 05:35:33 PM PDT

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