Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Beyond the selfish gatherers

Most would probably agree our ancestors spent much of their time focused on basics like gathering food and having sources of potable water. And throughout human history the primary activity probably was focused on just those areas, with also gaining shelter, taking care of children being high on the list but further down. And then going down the line of priorities until there was time for things like entertainment.

As science and technology have increased predictability for so many humans, things have shifted and for instance in countries like the United States, where I grew up, very few people are directly working at producing food. Gathering it is as easy as going to a shopping market, which many take for granted.

I do not.

However, something else odd has happened. With money helping to fuel human civilization by allowing strangers to do favors for other strangers in exchange for a socially backed IOU we call money, human beings could move to many other things. Like today, a pedicure can be had. Theoretically a robot could someday give a pedicure, but I do wonder, what humans would want it?

If we focus on money as a way that humans interact with strangers, then there is no reason to believe human beings will not keep finding ways to employ each other, with contracts that allow limited social trust in that exchange of goods or services for remuneration.

So why so much inequity today in so many parts of the world that consider themselves well developed?

Simplest explanation will present--SOME humans apparently overly value gathering favors.

Like there are hoarders who will continue to pile up things in their living spaces for reasons that are gathering increasing study, I believe there are human beings who will gather social favors in the form of money, without regard to need. And they will do this gathering even if in so doing they destabilize society, and also do not give adequate return for the efforts of other humans.

Here I've noted the massive impact in US history of just one American who more than doubled the wages of his workers. Henry Ford managed to do something that shifted world history, and I think after him, others have been fighting a longer battle to reverse those lessons and nearly crashed the entire world economy in 2008, bringing the human story to a near stunning reversal which in the future may be seen simply as a sign of a mental illness prevalent with some not diagnosed.

Hoarding in a way that can destroy your nation? I think that qualifies as remarkable.

Why would a man fight for a billion dollars US as if his life depended on it if he already has half a billion? And convince himself his workers are worthless when without them he'd have nothing? Or that he shouldn't pay taxes at all, when without his country he would lack the ability to accrue his wealth? And then strut around like he's brilliant?

Few notice that relentless and ruthless aggregation of wealth has been promoted as a good, except to decry when it becomes the anthem of a movie. And finally maybe some were scared.

Greed is NOT good. And it never will be.

But face reality that today human beings in many areas suffer because other humans devalue their efforts, while accruing vast resources to themselves where it is dubious as to how that was deserved. Especially when you find that they view cheating as basic, lying as being smart, and have utter contempt for people who are destroyed by their behavior, when they trusted their society.

There is a basic faith I think most Americans like myself had that our country focused more on merit, gave opportunity, and valued its people. Which was shaken I think by some who were ruthless in exploitation of trust.

But that trust has gone. As a new political order begins to arise I think we will rethink how we value the efforts of strangers. How we decide who gets paid what. And realize that unlike our ancestors, desperate often for food and water, we decide our destiny in so many powerful nations.

So our communities have no excuse.

If there is plenty, yet so many are without even opportunity? Your society is corrupted, and I'm thinking you probably have people I see as parasitic lurking within your midst. Pulling resources to themselves--by any means they can without even a true enjoyment of it, as they are driven, like hoarders in ways they may not even understand.

Science will answer so many questions though. It's up to us to act on what we learn to be true.


James Harris


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