Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mr. BrewMaster

Imagine that you invent a process similar to the Mr. Coffeemaker that allows people to brew beer at home for pennies a glass. Who would benefit? You certainly would. I would, and so too would millions of other beer drinkers. It would save beer drinkers money, and save the environment. Cans and bottles wouldn't have to be transported (saving gas). Cans and bottles wouldn't have to be made (smoke stack pollution); and the aluminum wouldn't have to be mined and smelted. On the surface it kappears to be a great invention, helping the poor and middle class and saving the environment. Unfortunately that is not the case. Budweiser would lose most of its business and people would be laid off. Union brewers would have to be let go, so too would the workers making the aluminum cans. Teamsters would lose their jobs. All these people would have to go on unemployment, at the taxpayer's expense.

What seemed to have been a delightful invention, has turned out instead to throw people out of work and increase the inequity in America. You, and your investors, would become wealthy and great numbers of workers, ordinary Americans, would become poorer. Once again we would see capitalism in action -- the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. America would have been better off if Mr. Brewmaster had not been invented.

The Mr. Brewmaster is a rhetorical device, but it is representative of the type of thinking common in America's universities and newsrooms. What should be realized is that society would be better off if a Mr. Brewmaster was invented. What was wrong with the objections presented against the Mr. Brewmaster? Why do so many people make those mistakes? The problem is that concrete bound minds focus upon the lost job, not realizing that new jobs have been created. The job to be is an abstraction. The job that exists in the here and now is concrete. New jobs would be created by the Mr. Brewmaster. Somebody would have to make these Brewmasters. While not every brewing, smelting, mining, and teamster job would be replaced by a job in the Brewmaster facility, the money saved by beer drinkers would be saved, thus lessening credit costs for everyone, or spent on clothes, car, travel, movies, buying a house. Thus creating new jobs and opportunities in those industries.

All inventions and processes aid some more than others, and rightly so. Should not those that invent a device, those that recognize its worth, benefit from their work and foresight? There are some who are offended by this proposition. It is this hostility to the products of the human mind and human effort, that has hamstrung mankind since the beginning of human society. They are the true conservatives. Keep things the same, is the unstated argument behind there ry slogans. Change brings problems.

Others fear that the new jobs are never as good as the previous. If this were correct then innovation, by and of itself, would be harmful to society. Society would be better off if it stayed the same, generation after generation after generation after generation after generation after generation after generation after generation after generation after generation after generation. However, many of these same people now consider education to be the key issue in America. It makes one wonder what they mean by education. Certainly it is not the absorption of empirical facts and concepts based upon these facts. If too many people become educated in such a manner who knows how many technological advances there will be. And technological advances leads to change, and that we can't have.

The unstated argument against change, against innovation, is that it leads away from the egalitarian ideal, where each person is materially, spiritually and politically equal. Education leads, by necessity, to innovation and change. The more highly educated the society the more new jobs will be created and old jobs be eliminated, the more innovative it will be, the more society will be unequal. This is considered evil, and the sign of a dysfunctional society. However we can easily picture the day that even the poorest among us will have a roof over his head, food in the cupboard, running water, electricity, and communication and entertainment opportunities unimaginable a generation ago. Egalitarians will not cheer and have inner happiness at the fact that all humans beings have achieved unprecedented prosperity. They will bemoan the fact that the gap between rich and poor has grown to historical levels.

I proclaim that an egalitarian society is not desirable. It is either a technologically stagnant society, or a repressive society. Live in an agriculturally based, pre-industrial commune if one wants. One may do so, quite easily, within the structure of a laissez-faire society. However, don't force egalitarian ideals upon those that don't subscribe to them. But egalitarians are not, for the most part, content in living a simple, egalitarian life, among people with a similar outlook on life. They want to ensure that all are equal. However, when one promotes a repressive, top-down society in which the government is used to enforce equality, not only is one making a lie of ones claim of ones love for freedom and education but it implies that one wants, or is deliberately ignoring, the only possible result of ones stated ideas -- dictatorship.


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