Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How to Re-cycle Wealth

I have written elsewhere about my view of the human being as creator or generator of wealth. Today, I want to address the other side of the same coin. I want to look at the human being as preserver of wealth. Or, to use a phrase, as re-cycler of wealth.

Re-cycling is all the rage these days. I will begin with a few comments about the re-cycling of physical material. I will then ask, why don't we go one further, and re-cycle wealth? And I'll conclude… no, that would spoil your fun.

Where re-cycling makes economic sense - as, for example, with aluminium - then no-one can reasonably object to it. It is far cheaper to re-cycle aluminium than to produce it from ore. Furthermore, the aeroplane or the beer-can made from re-cycled aluminium is essentially identical to the same thing made with metal from ores.

Less clear is the benefit in re-cycling of garbage. There is some valuable stuff in garbage - glass and aluminium or steel cans, for example. But the government monopolists, that are supposed to organize the collection and disposal of our garbage, don't want to give us discounts for that valuable stuff. Nor do they want to serve us, by offering to sort our garbage for us. Instead, they want to force us to sort it ourselves. And they threaten us with "rubbish police" to sift through our garbage looking for things they say we should have re-cycled! They see the re-cycling ideal merely as an excuse to bully people.

In summary, re-cycling of physical material can be good, and it can be bad. Where it improves the human environment, as for example by leading to greater prosperity, it is good. Where it harms the human environment - where it leads, for example, to bad, bullying "laws" - then it is bad.

I pass now to the question: Why don't we re-cycle wealth? If it makes sense to re-cycle valuable physical objects, then surely it makes even better sense to re-cycle the well-being, which is the result of productive human endeavours? That way, each of us can have that well-being many times over.

What would it entail, this re-cycling of wealth? It would mean that each of us strives not to let any wealth seep out of the system. We spend wisely, giving our wealth to those who do good things for us in return, and to those whom we want to help or to invest in. We strive to keep our wealth away from those that want to damage our lives. We avoid giving to - for example - the violent, the dishonest, trouble-makers, thieves, warmongers, bigots, bullies, killjoys, wealth-haters, criminals, the malicious, the disruptive, the destructive, the obstructive. We give nothing to those that want to prevent us enjoying the peace, freedom, justice, prosperity, progress and happiness we deserve.

In such a system, every opportunity to spend becomes an opportunity for someone to serve. Every opportunity to serve becomes, through the mechanism of trade, an opportunity to spend. And, with no wealth being lost from the system, every opportunity for an individual to spend eventually finds its way back to that individual as an opportunity to serve. This cycle continues indefinitely; serve, spend wisely; serve, spend wisely. And what is being re-cycled and preserved is not just material wealth, but the most important resource on the planet - the productive and creative energy of human beings.

Contrary to what most pundits today would tell us, in a system where wealth is re-cycled, we should not seek to minimize how much we spend. Rather the opposite, in fact. Each of us should spend as much as we can comfortably afford without prejudicing our own futures. Whenever we can afford it, we should always buy high quality goods and services in preference to shoddy.

We should not, for example, allow ourselves to be conned into feeling guilty for buying a more expensive Jaguar rather than a cheaper Ford. As we sit back and enjoy the extra comfort, we can reflect that by buying the higher quality, more expensive car we have actually increased the rate at which wealth travels round the system, and therefore the general prosperity. We can think of the craftsmen at Jaguar who, in their turn, have an opportunity to spend on whatever they want. Perhaps, indeed, we are being a little hard on the Ford workers. But they're OK too, since there's always going to be someone who can't quite afford the Jaguar yet, but is only too happy to buy the Ford.

Nor should we feel guilty if, when we go on holiday, we stay in a luxury hotel rather than, say, camping. Indeed, we should question the motives of the killjoys that try to make out that we are misusing wealth by spending on our own enjoyment. For, in reality, no wealth is lost from the system, when we spend on those who serve us. Wealth is only lost when it finds its way to those that fail to serve and, instead, damage others' lives.

When our wealth is properly re-cycled, we will be able to invest in the future too. At the personal level, we can save for our own old age. At a wider level, we can improve the environment for the human race. We can invest, for example, in practical, long-term, large-scale energy supplies. In developing a system of law and justice, which cannot be perverted by politicians or vested interests. In methods of education which encourage excellence, and strive to bring out the maximum potential of each individual. In means of transport which are fast, comfortable, fun, safe and private. When our wealth is fully re-cycled, we human beings will become, as we should be, the masters of our planet.

Unfortunately, our wealth isn't being re-cycled today. There is a constant and enormous drain on our well-being, from two directions. First, and more obvious, are what I call the oozers. These are individuals, whose nett effect is to damage the human environment. They harm our economy, our livelihoods, our emotional states, our enjoyment of our earned pleasures, our liberties, our lifestyles, the quality of our lives. I name them "oozers," because their effect on our lives is like a foul ooze that pollutes everything it touches.

But, far more numerous than the oozers, are the wasters. These are people who do not try as hard as they should to re-cycle wealth. They voluntarily give away part or even much of their wealth to oozers. Probably, many of them do not even realize how much waste, and so indirectly how much damage to everyone's lives, they are causing.

In a sense, we are all of us guilty of behaving like wasters. By paying more in taxes than the dubious benefits we receive in return are worth, we are failing to re-cycle our wealth. With the obvious result, that our opportunities both to spend and to serve are greatly diminished. And so, all of us human beings are far poorer than we deserve to be. Worse yet, what we pay is being used, not to benefit us, but to feed the egos of politicians, and to build bureaucracies full of oozers just waiting to pounce on us, rob us and bully us on any pretext they can find.

Most people know, deep down inside at a level beyond mere rational thought, that there is something desperately wrong with human society as it is today. They are quite right. And this, I think, is a reason why so many people have jumped on the re-cycling and, more generally, the enviro bandwagon. For, at first glance, enviro ideas seem to offer a fresh approach, a prospect of a better future. But, when we look a little more deeply, we find that enviro-ism is rooted in an extreme conservatism. The kind of "environment" which enviros want for us is one that is economically depressed, politically tyrannical and going absolutely nowhere. That isn't a human environment! That isn't an environment fit for human beings to live in!

But, buried inside any system of ideas which has power, there is always at least a nub of rightness. And so it is with re-cycling and the environment. For one of the key questions, which we lovers of freedom face today, is: How do we go about improving the human environment? How do we bring about the peace, freedom and prosperity, which human beings need and deserve? And, not surprisingly, part of the answer is - re-cycle. Re-cycle wealth, that is.

Imagine, just imagine, if all wealth was re-cycled. Imagine if we were able to keep all our wealth away from - and I'll repeat the list - the violent, the dishonest, trouble-makers, thieves, warmongers, bigots, bullies, killjoys, wealth-haters, criminals, the malicious, the disruptive, the destructive, the obstructive. Imagine if all those that want to damage our lives were starved of the resources they need to carry out their vile schemes. Wouldn't that make for a better environment? Wouldn't it lead to a world fit for human beings to live in?

So here's the message on re-cycling: Help the environment - the human environment. Re-cycle your wealth!

(From the archives - March 1st, 2003)

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