by Clay Barham, PopulistAmerica.com
At this time in man’s history, we know more about how the human body works. With this knowledge, we know more about the kinds of behaviors to avoid in order not to harm the body. We know more about engineering and construction today, and what designs and behaviors to avoid that cause collapse. We know more about weather, to predict and avoid its harmful effects. Knowing more about everything helps us to live better in our world. Somehow, we refuse to learn more about our social and economic life. Knowledge would help us avoid behaviors that disrupt it.
We should reduce our economy to its parts and see how they work together. Then, we can better understand economics. First is the human element, the individual. Second is the community of individuals who interact with each other. Our economy is that interaction. If each individual simply sat on a log, hoping God would give him a meal, he would starve. He must fend for himself. If he mates and has children, he must feed, clothe, shelter and protect them. He must act responsibly. If he acts alone, he will provide for the moment. If injured and unable to act, his family may not survive. His actions are purposeful, for survival of self and family. Being different from others in his community, he has certain skills, attributes and deficiencies. Others can make up for the deficiencies, so everyone cooperates for a community purpose of survival.
Some will have visions of better methods and practices to improve the community’s ability to survive. Some will design and produce tools to amplify effort, while others create new weapons for defense. The cycle continues. Some find better ways of building shelter and others better ways of providing food, such as herding and farming. They clear the land for farming and cut timber for building. They alter natural materials and make metals. Their mutual enemies are nature and plundering by other communities. Members of community develop special skills and methods for farming, hunting, producing goods and services needed by community, and defense, or for battle as plunderers.
Each individual and each community is as successful in its purpose as are its weapons, tools and specialized individual skills. It is by specialization and focus on individual skills that makes a community dependent on its members. Leadership is also a special skill to direct the whole community’s efforts toward achieving its purposes.
The economic disruptions, for good or evil, come from those in the community who believe in and think of better ways to live. Left unmanaged, they will cause changes. In the world, all things either change and grow or die. That fact affects everything and everyone. Community leadership ordinarily does what it can to prevent change. To manage change is difficult, like sticking a finger in the leaking dyke.
This is an essential ingredient of the human component, the individual in community. He thinks, conceives, believes and creates. What he creates both improves and disrupts. For this, individuals on their own become a threat to peace and order. Restrained and managed by community rulers, they are discouraged. The economic life of community, however, always moves in steps. Each step is a change brought about by individuals not prevented from creating and getting away with it.
The next component of community economics is the tool a man uses to accomplish his work. The creative individuals are the ones who discover, envision, design, create and build the tools that amplify human effort. Communities grow from their tools. Their tools grow their production, leaving an excess traded within and without the community. The specialization of effort and new and better tools expand production, which leads to one community trading with other communities. That trade makes communities depend on one another. It is their advantage to unite and grow to nationhood. That growth continues until it encompasses the whole world, except for leaders who get in the way. Rulers who look for personal and national benefit over trading partners will interfere and pervert the whole process. This is how wars start.
America, starting almost 400 years ago in New England, began a process where few leaders had an opportunity to intervene in the affairs of free men and women. The development of new tools and methods grew an economy, which is the wonder of the world. It grew because no political or community leader could get in the way of the progress brought about through individual freedom. Americans created new tools and methods, as well as exploiting and developing uses for new raw materials. Enhancing the lives and welfare of every American, that growth broke down the class barriers and allowed for greater upward movement.
A free people, with free choice to pursue legitimate self-interests, specialize their skills and efforts, creating new tools and methods, without government meddling, are the components of prosperity. We need to understand each component. We need, also, to understand the process of meddling, planning, designing, coercing on the level of local, state, national and international government that disrupts growth. In the 21st century, the Democratic Party tells us to vote for renewed meddling and disruption. In the Old World, we saw how that planning, design and management of economics led to war, poverty and suffering. Why would it be any better now than the benefits we gained from freedom?
America, the New World proved itself. The Old World proved inferior. It keeps on proving it. Why should Americans now want to be like them?
Clay Barham [send him email] has been a candidate for the California legislature and a stand-in talk show host for ABC. He was educated in physical and behavioral sciences, with a Ph.D. in sociology. He is the author of five books, with his latest being Foundations of Modern American Conservatism and Liberalism: The Roots of Freedom and Tyranny. Visit his website at http://www.claysamerica.com.