Thursday, August 20, 2009

a reply from grandpa

so my grandfather had this to say about my spiel:

so it sounds like the reason we are the greatest country this world has ever known is we were lucky. not because  people who have the money and  invest in new technologies to create jobs has led to our greatness.
if we tax the hell out of people who have wealth, where does the incentive come from to create more wealth and more jobs. if you make more money the government will only take it from you. I think this is called socialism.
evidently cuba and russia (communist)  have and had the ideal governments where everyone is equal.
yes there are inequities in our government(and some of them can be corrected) but if you destroy the incentive to accumulate wealth, this country will be destroyed.
there is no perfect government but history has proved the usa has the best so far.

to which i had this to say:

well said my dear grandfather, well said!

I think that if a government is intent on actually governing (as it seems, every aspect of a country) then the government should also play a prominent role in economics, etc. russia, for example, had such a prominent space program during the cold war, because all of the scientists involved were all government-hired scientists (as I understand it). and they were all probably making somewhere around the same amount as the local garbage collectors, say. now, sure its far simpler to be a trash man than to go to school for 10 years to become a scientist to get paid the same amount. but the point is, would you rather go to school for 10 years and become a scientist, or wade through a city's filth all day long, removing trash and (essentially) bettering the community? some would choose the former, others would choose the latter. but thing is, the scientist who goes to school for 10 years still needs to somebody to take his trash away to a facility that processes it--and he certainly isnt going to. and the garbage collector still needs scientists to develop medicine for when he gets sick, say. the point is: all jobs in a society are equally important, regardless of the degree of intensity of training involved. thus, should not everybody have a relatively similar wage and living conditions?

as far as innovation and so forth, I believe that a country does not need millionaires to invest in innovation (and how many of them really do? some: certainly. most: probably not.). what I do believe is that the government can foster this innovation as the need arises (this is a perfectly horrendous example but, look at the manhattan project: would anybody in the united states really be that mentally dysfunction as to develop and atomic bomb unless somebody had given them incentive and financing--in this case, the US government?). so, lets say everybody has similar wages and are taxed equally (or in the case of the US, "tax the hell out of the rich"), and the government has this whole big chunk of money it didn’t have (hi ho!—surplus!). not only can that money go into improving the various aspects of the country (health care, etc.), but it could also be used to finance certain projects. for example, the same way entrepreneurs go to big businessmen and banks looking for financing for some contraption, scheme, or whatever, they would instead go to the government (like we scientists do), a certain committee composed of people from all sorts of various backgrounds would determine whether that would be a sound investment or not (like the national science foundation does), and then the person going to the government would either be granted a financial award, or not (like us scientists are, or are not).

the point: its not that their cant be investment to create jobs and provide incentive to innovate, its just that it could and should go through better channels (I.e. government, not private). I think that I would have far more trust in the government (which I have apparently voted for and apparently represents me) holding the majority of the country's money, than the rich holding onto it. because what are they really doing with it? a majority of them? not improving the economy, I will tell you that much. that’s why there is this economic crisis: a minority of the citizens of the united states of america hold onto a majority of the money, and they don’t want to give it up (trickle-down does not work when nobody at the top wants to trickle down). so the upper class becomes the upper upper class, and the middle class becomes the lower class, and the lower class well, theyre already at rock bottom. thus, as corporate greed increases, the disparity between classes increases--soon, there will be no middle class. and the poor arent going anywhere--theyre the majority. its going to be up to the rich to let go of their greed--and their money--or up to the government to tax them more heavily, to get the majority of the country's money out of their hands, and spread around to everybody else so that people can start buying things and investing in homes and cars and so forth. that’s going to get the economy going again.

it doesn’t necessarily mean the rich wont still be rich, it just means that the poor wont be as poor anymore.

and: its not that there should be an incentive to increase wealth--instead, there should simply be a desire to be the best human being one can be (the Word of God comes to mind). in the dog-eat-dog market that capitalism fosters, there is no hope of that. in a perfect economy, there would be an overall understanding that not one component of society (that is to say, one particular specialization) can function without all of the others (which is to say, all of the other occupations). thus, no one person should be rewarded more than the other for their contribution to society (or at least not by definition).

the unfortunate thing is that human beings--by their very genetic nature (see richard dawkins' "the selfish gene")--are incredibly greedy organisms, which is why capitalism works. it is surprising that capitalism--a dog-eat-dog economic system--flourishes in a mostly christian country, a religion in which the Word of God is certainly most is not the following: do your best to out compete thy neighbor and come out on top of him. you would think that in a country whose main religion and whose constitution (despite "separation of church and state") is based on the aforementioned religion would be more egalitarian. thus, it is not surprising that the beautitudes--Jesus' sermon on the mount--are not referenced more often than the ten commandments (for example, "blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the earth": this sounds like a millionaire's nightmare).

you get the point im trying to make: america (and many other countries with capitalistic economies) could be said to have an overall "morally" corrupt society (which is to say, everybody simply insists on everybody being nice to each other--which is to say, be moral--but many people are not, they're simply looking out for their own skin, which is supposed to be immoral, or so I understand it--and it certainly most is genetically and evolutionarily favorable in nature) simply as a result of our own genetic ("human") nature (e.g. social darwinism), and thus, we can only have a corrupt economy.

only in a utopian society where everybody rejects their genetics and does behave as morally as people say we should act could an egalitarian society flourish.

I am a dreamer. so be it.

love,

ryan

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