Most of us have no sympathy with the rich idler who spends his life in pleasure without ever doing any work. But even he fulfills a function in the life of the social organism. He sets an example of luxury that awakens in the multitude a consciousness of new needs and gives industry the incentive to fulfill them.
Well? What are your plans?
The child in the bedroom.
Oh, Lucy. I met her on the plane. Yeah, she's a religious freak. I gave her a cap before I realized... Jesus, she's never even had a drink before.
Well... It'll probably work out. We can keep her loaded and peddle her ass at the drug convention. Yeah. She's perfect for this gig. These cops will go fifty bucks a head to beat her into submission and then gang fuck her. We can set her up in one of these back street motels, hang pictures of Jesus all over the room, then turn these fucking pigs loose on her. Hell, she's strong, man. She'll hold her own.
Jesus Christ. I knew you were sick but I never expected to hear you actually say that kind of stuff, you filthy bastard.
Straight economics man. This girl is a God-send. Shit, she can make us a grand a day.
That's ugly, man. Stop talking like that.
I figure she can do about four at a time. If we keep her full of acid that's more like two grand a day. Maybe three.
Hold on, man. What if I just jump you and beat the dog shit out of you? Would that make you feel better? You filthy bastard.
Alright listen to me. In a few hours, she'll probably be sane enough to work herself into some kind of towering Jesus-based rage at the hazy recollection of being seduced by some kind of cruel Samoan who fed her liquor and LSD, dragged her to a Vegas hotel room and then savagely penetrated every orifice in her little body with his throbbing, uncircumcised member.
That's so ugly, man!
Fuck. Truth hurts.
That's, argh! Argh! That's argh! Argh! That's argh!
I wanted to help her, man.
Well, you'll go straight to the gas chamber for this one. And even if you manage to beat that, they'll still send you back to Nevada for rape and consensual sodomy. She's got to go.
Shit. It doesn't pay to try to help someone these days.
In a basic agricultural society, it's easy enough to swap five chickens for a new dress or to pay a schoolteacher with a goat and three sacks of rice. Barter works less well in a more advanced economy. The logistical challenges of using chickens to buy books on Amazon.com would be formidable.
Yo sir! Yo! Difference of opinion here.
Uh, Darryl. And we can do without the yo-ing.
What he's saying is let's help people by firing them. Now this seems to me, ebonically speaking, wack.
Perhaps Darryl does have a special insight into the blue-collar or, should I say, hairnet mentality.
I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of. Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in. Who made them serfs of the soil? Why should they eat their sixty acres, when man is condemned to eat only his peck of dirt? Why should they begin digging their graves as soon as they are born?
The industrial mind is a mind without compunction; it simply accepts that people, ultimately, will be treated as things and that things, ultimately, will be treated as garbage. (A Defense of the Family Farm, 1986)
What I did not know yet about hunger, but would find out over the next twenty-one years, was that brilliant theorists of economics do not find it worthwhile to spend time discussing issues of poverty and hunger. They believe that these will be resolved when general economic prosperity increases. These economists spend all their talents detailing the process of development and prosperity, but rarely reflect on the origin and development of poverty and hunger. A a result, poverty continues.
The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.
We have not noticed how fast the rest has risen. Most of the industrialized world--and a good part of the nonindustrialized world as well--has better cell phone service than the United States. Broadband is faster and cheaper across the industrial world, from Canada to France to Japan, and the United States now stands sixteenth in the world in broadband penetration per capita. Americans are constantly told by their politicians that the only thing we have to learn from other countries' health care systems is to be thankful for ours. Most Americans ignore the fact that a third of the country's public schools are totally dysfunctional (because their children go to the other two-thirds). The American litigation system is now routinely referred to as a huge cost to doing business, but no one dares propose any reform of it. Our mortgage deduction for housing costs a staggering $80 billion a year, and we are told it is crucial to support home ownership, except that Margaret Thatcher eliminated it in Britain, and yet that country has the same rate of home ownership as the United States. We rarely look around and notice other options and alternatives, convinced that
To reverse the effects of civilization would destroy the dreams of a lot of people. There's no way around it. We can talk all we want about sustainability, but there's a sense in which it doesn't matter that these people's dreams are based on, embedded in, intertwined with, and formed by an inherently destructive economic and social system. Their dreams are still their dreams. What right do I -- or does anyone else -- have to destroy them.
At the same time, what right do they have to destroy the world?
I was thinking about taking a home economics class so I can learn how to cook
What for? I can teach you how to cook.
That's okay mom.
Look why not?
Remember when you tried to teach me how to sew? You made me so nervous that I had to go to the hospital to get the thimble taken off.
I guess it wouldn't hurt to take a home economics class.
Look, America is no more a democracy than Russia is a Communist state. The governments of the U.S. and Russia are practically the same. There's only a difference of degree. We both have the same basic form of government: economic totalitarianism. In other words, the settlement to all questions, the solutions to all issues are determined not by what will make the people most healthy and happy in the bodies and their minds but by economics. Dollars or rubles. Economy uber alles. Let nothing interfere with economic growth, even though that growth is castrating truth, poisoning beauty, turning a continent into a shit-heap and riving an entire civilization insane. Don't spill the Coca-Cola, boys, and keep those monthly payments coming.
Th direct elimination of elimination of poverty should be the objective of all development aid. Development should be viewed as a human rights issue, not as a question of simply increasing the gross national product (GNP).
Christ represents originally: 1) men before God; 2) God for men; 3) men to man.
Similarly, money represents originally, in accordance with the idea of money: 1) private property for private property; 2) society for private property; 3) private property for society.
But Christ is alienated God and alienated man. God has value only insofar as he represents Christ, and man has value only insofar as he represents Christ. It is the same with money.
It is because every individual knows little and, in particular, because we rarely know which of us knows best best that we trust the independent and competitive efforts of many to induce the emergence of what we shall want when we see it.
And that's just the beginning. More and more, conventional wisdom says that the responsible thing is to make the unemployed suffer. And while the benefits from inflicting pain are an illusion, the pain itself will be all too real.
The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It's proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or
State ownership! It leads only to absurd and monstrous conclusions; state ownership means state monopoly, concentrated in the hands of one party and its adherents, and that state brings only ruin and bankruptcy to all.
Since its appearance the view that prostitution is a product of capitalism has gained ground enormously. And as, in addition, preachers still complain that the good old morals have decayed, and accuse modern culture of having led to loose living, everyone is convinced that all sexual wrongs represent a symptom of decadence peculiar to our age.
I do not intend to defend capitalism or capitalists. They, like everything human, have their defects. I only say their possibilities of usefulness are not ended.
Capitalism has borne the monstrous burden of the war and today still has the strength to shoulder the burdens of peace. ...
It is not simply and solely an accumulation of wealth, it is an elaboration, a selection, a co-ordination of values which is the work of centuries. ...
Many think, and I myself am one of them, that capitalism is scarcely at the beginning of its story.
Reconciliation means that those who have been on the underside of history must see that there is a qualitative difference between repression and freedom. And for them, freedom translates into having a supply of clean water, having electricity on tap; being able to live in a decent home and have a good job; to be able to send your children to school and to have accessible health care. I mean, what's the point of having made this transition if the quality of life of these people is not enhanced and improved? If not, the vote is useless.'
-archbishop Desmond Tutu, chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee, 2001
It is irrelevant to the entrepreneur, as the servant of the consumers, whether the wishes and wants of the consumers are wise or unwise, moral or immoral. He produces what the consumers want. In this sense he is amoral. He manufactures whiskey and guns just as he produces food and clothing. It is not his task to teach reason to the sovereign consumers. Should one entrepreneur, for ethical reasons of his own, refuse to manufacture whiskey, other entrepreneurs would do so as long as whiskey is wanted and bought. It is not because we have distilleries that people drink whiskey; it is because people like to drink whiskey that we have distilleries. One may deplore this. But it is not up to the entrepreneurs to improve mankind morally. And they are not to be blamed if those whose duty this is have failed to do so.
Economics is a study of cause-and-effect relationships in an economy. It's purpose is to discern the consequences of various ways of allocating resources which have alternative uses. It has nothing to say about philosophy or values, anymore than it has to say about music or literature.
The quasi-peaceable gentleman of leisure, then, not only consumes of the staff of life beyond the minimum required for subsistence and physical efficiency, but his consumption also undergoes a specialisation as regards the quality of the goods consumed. He consumes freely and of the best, in food, drink, narcotics, shelter, services, ornaments, apparel, weapons and accoutrements, amusements, amulets, and idols or divinities.
What these men represented was not 'The West' but what was for this century a relatively new kind of monied class in America, a group devoid of social responsibilities because their ties to any one place had been so attenuated.
For example, the supporters of tariffs treat it as self-evident that the creation of jobs is a desirable end, in and of itself, regardless of what the persons employed do. That is clearly wrong. If all we want are jobs, we can create any number--for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks. Work is sometimes its own reward. Mostly, however, it is the price we pay to get the things we want. Our real objective is not just jobs but productive jobs--jobs that will mean more goods and services to consume.
The ceremonial differentiation of the dietary is best seen in the use of intoxicating beverages and narcotics. If these articles of consumption are costly, they are felt to be noble and honorific. Therefore the base classes, primarily the women, practice an enforced continence with respect to these stimulants, except in countries where they are obtainable at a very low cost. From archaic times down through all the length of the patriarchal regime it has been the office of the women to prepare and administer these luxuries, and it has been the perquisite of the men of gentle birth and breeding to consume them. Drunkenness and the other pathological consequences of the free use of stimulants therefore tend in their turn to become honorific, as being a mark, at the second remove, of the superior status of those who are able to afford the indulgence. Infirmities induced by over-indulgence are among some peoples freely recognised as manly attributes. It has even happened that the name for certain diseased conditions of the body arising from such an origin has passed into everyday speech as a synonym for
The oldest problem in economic education is how to exclude the incompetent. A certain glib mastery of verbiage-the ability to speak portentously and sententiously about the relation of money supply to the price level-is easy for the unlearned and may even be aided by a mildly enfeebled intellect. The requirement that there be ability to master difficult models, including ones for which mathematical competence is required, is a highly useful screening device.
There will always be a part, and always a very large part of every community, that have no care but for themselves, and whose care for themselves reaches little further than impatience of immediate pain, and eagerness for the nearest good.
It has been discovered that with a dull urban population, all formed under a mechanical system of State education, a suggestion or command, however senseless and unreasoned, will be obeyed if it be sufficiently repeated.
Copyright law has got to give up its obsession with 'the copy.' The law should not regulate 'copies' or 'modern reproductions' on their own. It should instead regulate uses--like public distributions of copies of copyrighted work--that connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster.
I was quite depressed two weeks ago when I spent an afternoon at Brentano's Bookshop in New York and was looking at the kind of books most people read. That seems to be hopeless; once you see that you lose all hope.
To me, the conclusion that the public has the ultimate responsibility for the behavior of even the biggest businesses is empowering and hopeful, rather than disappointing. My conclusion is not a moralistic one about who is right or wrong, admirable or selfish, a good guy or a bad guy. My conclusion is instead a prediction, based on what I have seen happening in the past. Businesses have changed when the public came to expect and require different behavior, to reward businesses for behavior that the public wanted, and to make things difficult for businesses practicing behaviors that the public didn't want. I predict that in the future, just as in the past, changes in public attitudes will be essential for changes in businesses' environmental practices.
After the collapse of socialism, capitalism remained without a rival. This unusual situation unleashed its greedy and - above all - its suicidal power. The belief is now that everything - and everyone - is fair game.
Can we actually suppose that we are wasting, polluting, and making ugly this beautiful land for the sake of patriotism and the love of God? Perhaps some of us would like to think so, but in fact this destruction is taking place because we have allowed ourselves to believe, and to live, a mated pair of economic lies: that nothing has a value that is not assigned to it by the market; and that the economic life of our communities can safely be handed over to the great corporations. (from 'Compromise, Hell!' published in the November/December 2004 issue of ORION magazine)