About the Name of this blog

This blog's title refers to a Dani fable recounted by Robert Gardner. The Dani live in the highlands of New Guinea, and at the the time he studied them, they lived in one of the only remaining areas in the world un-colonized by Europeans.

The Dani, who Gardner identifies only as a "Mountain People," in the film "The Dead Birds," have a myth that states there was once a great race between a bird and a snake to determine the lives of human beings. The question that would be decided in this race was, "Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds?" According to the mythology, the bird won the race, and therefore man must die.

In the spirit of ethnographic analysis, this blog will examine myth, society, culture and architecture, and hopefully examine issues that make us human. As with any ethnography, some of the analysis may be uncomfortable to read, some of it may challenge your preconceptions about the world, but hopefully, all of it will enlighten and inform.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Am I a Soon to Have?


What we have here is a failure to understand basic economic principles.

In his response to the President's State of the Union Address, Governor Mitch Daniels claimed that this is not a nation of haves and have-nots, but a nation of haves and soon to haves.

Huh???  Excuse me?

Did I get this wrong, did he suddenly avow communism, because it certainly sounds like he just did. 

Let me explain.  If everyone had a at least a million dollars, no one would be rich.  The people who only had a million dollars would be poverty stricken.  The reason is that the economy would normalize to a million dollars being poor; inflation would run rampant until the prices leveled out to a new plateau.  Your grandparents probably can tell you that they remember a loaf of bread costing a nickel, and that's because they only made a few thousand dollars a year.  In fact they probably made in a year what the average person now makes every month.

Prices will always rise until a point of equilibrium is met.  The market will determine how much things cost, and it will always set prices based on general income.  Now if everyone had a million dollars, there would be a short grace period where everyone could feel rich, but that would only last a few weeks, maybe even only a few days, possibly only a few hours.  The reason: every one would immediately raise their prices.

The only way you could prevent that from happening: price controls, absolute rigid price controls, government mandated maximum prices, government intervening to set the prices.  Sounds pretty communistic.

But that is not the only way his statement is communist.

It echoes the statement, each to each according to need, the Marxist motto.  (On a side note, it also echoes "A chicken in every pot," Hoover's slogan, and we know how that ended.)  Why does it echo Marxism?  Because Marx advocated a classless society as one of the hallmarks of his economic theory.  What Daniels seems to be advocating is that everyone will be rich, which actually means no one will be rich, because there will only be one economic class, which brings us back to Marxism.

How do you enforce a single class society?  Redistribution of wealth.  Wait a minute, isn't that what they are accusing democrats of tying to do?  I guess two can play that game.

The other possibility is that there will be more than one class, but I guess that there will have to be a rotation set up: you get to be rich this month, but next month you have to go back to being a soon to have.  Then you wait your turn, in August of 2013 you go back to being a have for six weeks, and the wheel turns round. 

Actually it sounds kind of nice, everyone gets to be rich on a schedule. While you're not rich, you can dream of all the fun you'll have when you are.  It's kind of like a money vacation or a money cruise.  You spend all of your time dreaming about that period when you're rich, which will make your time being poor bearable.

And since there would have to be some central authority to work out the turns, and make sure that the haves turn in their stuff to the soon to haves, you'll need a pretty big government.  And a communist one at that, since the government will need to control all of the assets to make this work.

So Mitch Daniels is a communist advocating the largest bureaucracy the world has ever seen.

At least, I wish that's what his statement was about, because that  would be really funny.

The truth is much less funny.  It is the worst sort of political rhetoric and pandering; he is playing on the American Dream in a very vicious and cynical way.  He is pulling the "If you vote Republican, we'll make sure that you get rich."  It is no different than the Nigerian who just needs access to your band account to deposit thousands of dollars.

He is playing on Americans' desires and beliefs, when there is no possibility of every delivering on the promises.  There will never be a country of haves and soon to haves, because for a soon to have to become a have, one of the haves must become a have not.  There is a limited pool of openings at the top.

But he is playing off the idea that there are unlimited openings up there, and everyone can become a VIP, and all you have to do to make sure that you become one is to vote the right way.  He is buying votes with dreams of unicorns and rainbows.

The reality is, not everyone will be rich, there will always be poor people, unless we go communist or discover some new economic theory that allows for universal wealth without devaluing it.  I would love that to happen, but under the current system, it is impossible.

And Mitch Daniels is just playing with our hopes, only to crush them in the future.

And that is the worst sort of viciousness.

No comments:

Post a Comment