Every honest man and woman should earn their own living in the free trade of values with other humans. One of the best ways to become wealthy is to create values which didn’t previously exist.
If you merely trade values, then you make a living but do not become wealthy and empowered. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, if that is what you want, but creativity is the key to riches.
As an example, imagine we are on an island together with ten other families. Let’s trade values. I’ll fix your hut roof for two hours, while you husk coconuts for me for two hours. Fair? Sure. No problem. Tomorrow, I’ll fish for my family and your family for five hours as long as you collect firewood and water for your family and my family for five hours. Okay? Yes. No problems here. There’s nothing wrong with this way of going on, and we could exist for centuries like this. In fact this is exactly how primitive societies did (and still do) operate. But there is no progress.
Why is progress desirable? Because without it we are all still working for sixteen hours a day in mindless, numbing physical toil – just as people did for centuries, just as they are still doing now in many parts of the world. The fact that we swap jobs (trade values) doesn’t actually improve our lives very much apart from a slight efficiency due to division of labor.
Now, let’s create some values. Assume all ten families spend three hours a day collecting fresh water from the distant mountain stream. As an ‘entrepreneur’ you see a way of greatly improving the physical comfort of your family while also greatly improving the physical comfort of every other family on the island. Indeed, you intend to create an honest, tradable value that will make you wealthy, but also make everyone else better off too. This is the essential point about getting wealthy through creating an honest value – everyone benefits. Note one vital principle here: You are not motivated by altruism to improve the lot of others. You are solely interested in improving your own lot, and that of your family. You are acting selfishly. How can you act in any other way? This is what gets you out of bed in the morning.
You are rational, because you know that the only sustainable way of becoming wealthy is to create something of lasting benefit to others (an honest value) otherwise they won’t ‘buy’ it. The only alternative is for you to use force to enslave the population of the island to your desires, or to con them out of their values.
Okay, so what are you going to do? Through your ingenuity, your creativeness and your honest toil during what should be your rest period; you are going to create a neat piping system of bamboo cane that brings water down from the stream right into the village.
You plan, you scheme, you work and sweat and toil. You sacrifice your leisure and a portion of your life. You take risks – it might not work. You place yourself in danger – the mountain is steep and slippery. Of course, you need to conduct a market survey, so you gather all the villagers together and say this:
“For centuries the women have walked two miles a day to that hill with their water jars to fetch the daily water for their families. You all know that each family spends three hours a day in this pursuit. If I could bring you the same water, here, into the village and you could collect it in five minutes instead of three hours, would each family work for one hour a day on various tasks dictated for my family?”
Now of course the resounding answer would be “Yes!” Note the vital point here: everyone is a winner. Each family gains two precious hours a day for nothing – absolutely free, for zero effort on their part. They can use this time to grow more crops, fix up the hut, or whatever else they want to do. The net effect is that their lives are enriched and their standard of living rises, all due to your ingenuity, risk, and discipline.
In return for your effort, ingenuity, skill and daring, you become a wealthy man or woman. How? Because you now have ten families working one hour a day for you and so you can ‘retire.’
In other words, because you created value for others that they willingly bought from you, you have freed yourself from the need ever to work again. There is no money on our island, but money is merely a token of so many units of human labor.
There are several important points here.
Firstly you did not force anyone to do anything. This is not slavery. The man who says that modern work is slavery is a fool who has never felt the lash on his back. In fact you freed the people from two full hours of soul-destroying donkey work each and every day of their lives, and the price you charged them for these two hours was – zero. Secondly you did it for you, not for them, and you’re proud to admit it. You’re also proud of your water system. You’re trying to add filtration and perhaps design an automatic coconut husker too. Furthermore, you are proud of your wealth and your achievements. It makes you feel good to be alive. You know you created something of lasting value, and you’re receiving the rewards which you are due. These rewards spur you on to greater efforts which will make you wealthier and improve the living standard of all of the villagers.
Also, no villager is prevented from following in your footsteps, and so you act like a hero or heroine leading others on to greater efforts. Perhaps another villager will be inspired enough to start making boats in his free two hours – the two hours which you created for him and gave to him free. Now we can all go to where the fish are plentiful – by ‘renting’ his boats, of course. Instead of spending three hours fishing, we now spend one hour, and pay him one hour in rent. So we are all better off to the tune of another hour a day, with no drop in living standards. In other words, we work less hard for the same amount of fish and fresh water. Or, of course, we can choose to work the same hours as before and get more fish and fresh water. In other words, everyone has become wealthier.
Note that if the island were to suddenly turn communist, the following would happen. The islanders would ‘seize the means of production,’ in other words, take by force that which you created and built. In this example they would seize your water system in the name of the glorious people’s collective.
You would be executed or imprisoned as an ‘intellectual’ or ‘enemy of the state.’ People would be temporarily better off in the short-term because they would now have free water. Looters, thieves and parasites are always better off in the short term by stealing the values of others, but they are ultimately powerless because they depend for their existence on those of productive ability.
Incentive and entrepreneurial spirit is rapidly crushed. Your neighbor who was thinking of designing and building a boat? Forget it. He’s not stupid. He saw what happened to you and so he just keeps his head down and his eyes lowered. That coconut husker never gets invented either. Society atrophies and dies. People mooch for handouts instead of engaging in creative work. The parasites and leeches suck and bleed the island dry until all that remains is an empty husk – rather like some countries I could name today!
Perhaps you are objecting that not everyone is creative and ingenious. What about the poor dull people, don’t they get a break?
Yes, a level playing field is desirable. It would be nice if we all had equal chances in life, but it doesn’t pan out that way. Some hunters are born stronger and faster. That’s not fair, but should we weight their ankles with irons to slow them down to our speed? Pretty women get all the guys. That’s not fair. Should we disfigure them to give the plainer girls a chance? Handsome rugged guys get all the girls. Should we legislate to make sure that ugly people get the same number of dates as handsome people? No, and yet society is intent upon making sure that smart, creative, bright and energetic people don’t get any further financially than dull, lazy or inept people. Is this sensible and desirable? Do we really want a level playing field anyway? Don’t a few hills and trenches make life an exciting challenge?
Compare the honest trade and creation of values on our hypothetical island with our current society of looters. Every penny of collected income tax now goes in handouts to people sitting at home with their palms stretched out. The rest of the governmental mechanism is funded by other taxation such as sales tax, capital gains tax, excise duty, etc. Moreover, this is considered reasonable and normal. It is hardly questioned. The beggars now outnumber the active producers and so there are no votes in changing the system. The only votes to be had are in assurances to the beggars that they will get more free handouts, that ‘fat cats’ will be taxed harder and their money given away to the masses.
Since it is your stated aim to become a ‘fat cat’ too, you’d better have some pretty clear ideas about your own views on taxation and socialism.
Nobody, particularly a stranger, has the right to place a mortgage on your income (your life’s efforts), then to sit at home while you sweat and strive on his behalf. But the government has made this compulsory and back this position with violence or threats of violence.
And what is the current viewpoint of the majority of people in this country? They ridicule, lampoon and despise people who have become wealthy by honest creation of values. They seek to vilify them, scandalize them and seize their wealth. They are jealous of the talents and abilities of others so they minimize them. They focus the spotlight of the media upon successful people and wait for the tiniest slip that is then magnified. They claim that wealth earned by talent and ability is really due to luck or accident or worse.
They applaud a government that seeks to confiscate wealth and share it out amongst the beggars. They demand more free money for this, or that. They complain about the government not doing enough for them. Their lives are devoted not to the creation of honest values, but to seeking ways in which they can join the leeches, claim their share of the loot, suck on the collective teat, con or scam their share of the ‘free’ money.
Decide which side you’re on, and then be happy with it. Of course, deep down, can you honestly be happy with the side of the socialist? The human spirit was not founded on such principles, and your soul knows it.