America Was Lucky in Geography

The United States of America has often been called “the land of plenty”, because of an abundance of its abundance of resources.  This country succeeded ahead of  all nations, even as modern advances enhanced all economies.  The large land area between two oceans , spanning four time zones and varying climates, provides fertile soils for a variety of agriculture.  Minerals have been mined through centuries.  Industrious entrepreneurs, and their hard-working employees,  produced a gigantic economy, unparalleled in world economic history.  Scientific advances have allowed longer, healthier life spans.  Innovations in technology have changed the world, and the exponential  pace of this evolution boggles even the most astute analysts.  The can-do attitude is if there is a problem, we will solve it soon; no problem is insurmountable for “the greatest nation on earth”.   So, then why can’t everyone have everything, and why is the government conflicted in supporting its citizens? Democrats and Republicans disagree on the basic facts of the situation, as well as the culprits and the government’s role or non-role in dealing with them.

The Unlimited Plan

The amazing amount of resources and innovation evident in America, obscures an undeniable fact.   All resources are limited.  This is why money exists, to place a quantifiable value on goods and services,  so they can be exchanged.  You can buy or sell most things, but there is always a cost,  ostensibly determined by supply and demand. Natural resources fall into this ruling. There is only just so much of any mineral, and when it is gone it takes millions of years, if ever,  for the Earth to recreate it.   This is one of the problems with fossil fuels, as well as the most fertile agricultural soils.  When miners have to go further into the  Earth, to extract minerals, the risk and price increases.  Since all manufacturing depends upon necessary materials,  economic success is effected.

Hail Science

Science is oversold as a savior to society.  Many discoveries have benefitted the world,  and many have been monetized.  Unfortunately, we don’t control the universe, and some problems are beyond humans’ ability to solve.  Medical researchers have tried to cure almost every disease, but most remain incurable. How much money and time were devoted to the noble pursuit of curing cancer?   The new hypothesis is cancer is not one disease with variations; the variations are separate diseases, therefore a single cure is not possible.  Perhaps a new discovery will change that, but what about the new diseases continually, discovered?  Pollution is a largely  man-made disaster, and environmentalists have tried to solve it, but they admit that even with full cooperation, it is probably never entirely solvable.  Computer  technology has improved many aspects of our lives, but the possibility of machines overtaking the  human race has passed from fiction to real danger.  Meanwhile, the dearth of aspiring, and qualified,  problem solvers is a an  educational achievement and recruitment  crisis.  Science can’t solve everything soon enough,  to prevent every oncoming calamity.

Anything They Can Do We Can Do Better

“American Ingenuity” is hailed as the hallmark of  the industrious American business.  The multitude of inventions and other innovations produced by Americans is awesome, to be sure.  The  tradition of dedication and hard work from American workers is heralded.  We work smarter and harder. At least we did.  Various economic research has indicated production from workers has decreased, even as factories have mechanized to promote efficiency.  foreign businesses compete with ours.  The European Union was largely created to counter American dominance.   International alliances and currency manipulations affect the international economy, and thus the American economy is also effected.   Payments for societal programs, including so-called entitlements, along with payments toward the galactic national debt, drain the economy.  Democrats and Republicans both oversell the ability of to solve problems through shifting  things around in a kind of innovation “shell game”.  The facts of nature and economics rule the day.  You can’t just expect prosperity from tradition.

Money Makers

Business exists to make profit.  Many of you are aghast that anyone dare speak such blasphemy, but it’s true!  In a society where value is monetized–and every non-barter economy is monetized–people must “make a living”.  If you don’t, someone else has to do it for you.  We all live in this reality.  Combine this with the competitive spirit, inherent in human nature, and greed overtakes altruism.  Let’s take the stock market as an example. Though almost all of you are familiar with what stocks are, I’ll give you a brief summary to elucidate the inherent conflict between business and the people’s representative government.  When a company “goes public”, it sells shares of ownership called stock.  The person or group owning the ownership share-stock only receives a return on their investment through payments called dividends,  from selling, or trading the share-stock, or though  non-tangible valuations.  The only incentive is to make profit.  Charitable contributions, environmental responsibility,  employee relations,  and corporate charity, don’t pay the dividends.  The profit motive quickly takes over every goal of the investors.  The investors demand ever-increasing profitability, and the dependent businesses comply.  Greed rules, and ethics suffer.  Many cases of product liability, environmental damage, employee mistreatment, and unfair competition, ensue.  This is why regulations exist.  They are not just to stifle employment.  However, too many regulations are too much for many businesses to handle.  People suffer from the demise of businesses, and the society is harmed in many areas.   Business is not the “White Knight” coming to save the world, as many Republicans are convinced.; Neither is it the cause of all problems, as many Democrats fear. Indeed, it is the source of all of our prosperity, and the standard of living so envied by the rest of the world.

Your fellow Human

People vary in ability and initiative.  Everyone has some talents, and each person has marketable skills.  Some have more talents and skills, or they were just luckier than other people.  That’s not something any government can control, nor should it try to change the outcomes on those bases.   Every person is responsible for themself.  Some people are less able or unable to take care of themselves– temporary or lifelong conditions control their lives.  Some people have difficult obstacles, and a little help at the right time can make a big difference to get them  back on the production  team.  Other people, as a result of some insurmountable disabilities, are doomed to being unable to take care of themselves.  Most of us agree to have government help those people.  It’s a kind of group sharing of the responsibility for them.  However, this does not apply to lazy people.  I can hear the gasps from the Social Justice Warriors!  You might be amazed to be told, many people with less talent, skill, and luck than other people,  manage to succeed very well in America.  There are many successful people among the allegedly oppressed groups of the “Intersectionality” coalition.  They achieve astounding levels of economic independence, free from government support, because they take responsibility for their situation and take initiative–they try, that’s all there is to it.    If you don’t even try,  then society has no moral obligation to help you.

 

Coming Up Zeroes

Some of this is exemplified in the “Zero-Sum Game” concept.  In a “Zero-Sum Game what goes to one competitor, is only taken from another competitor. The concept is based on the fact of limitation of resources, but takes an approach of no creation and no sharing.  It could apply to natural science, economics,  or government and society.  Some  Tea Party people make an argument that no one deserves any help from their  competitors in  a “Zero-Sum Game”.  They often overestimate and generalize about the abilities of different individuals.   They appear as callous and lacking empathy.   Democrats make an argument that there is no “Zero-Sum Game”, and that what is yours is also theirs. They are characterized as “bleeding heart liberals”.  Therein  is the crux of the disagreements.  The anger, the vitriol, the gridlock of modern American government, basically occurs because resources are limited and there is no agreement this fact exists, and no consensus  on what do about it.

 

Illustration: Keith Bishop/Getty Images

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