1. Bloody hands and wealth inequality
2. The economic reset button we need to press—but won't
To fully understand this article, please first read another essay, “Unions can be thuggish to their members, too: a short story with a surprising twist.”
Working in the truss plant was far from my worst job, but handling the metal truss plates shredded my hands with hundreds of cuts that were replaced by hundreds more before they healed. After my older brother worked his first afternoon shift there, he left me a note to read in the morning before I began the day shift. At the bottom of his note were two palm prints stamped with blood, made possible by his innumerable hand cuts.
I used truss plates before and after that, such as to build some of my sheds, and rarely suffered a single cut from their dozens of barbs and sharp edges, but when you're working at a frenetic pace in a factory led by a sadistic foreman who despised college kids, safety takes a back seat to production.
No one needs bloody hands to justify why they deserve every penny of their paychecks, but countless employees working just as hard and suffering other abuses see money evaporate from their paychecks and deposit elsewhere—usually in the accounts of people whose hands are busy pickpocketing, not working, and covered with doughnut glazing, not blood.
Something similar is now happening in the world, with dictators and illegitimate monarchs living extravagant lifestyles made possible by looting their countrymen (see my article on The bloody roots of royal power), and the über-rich owning a fraction of the world's wealth that dwarfs their contributions to society. People like you and me, the ones who do the real world, are left with bloody hands, ulcers, gray hair, and peanuts instead of big bucks in our paychecks.
The elite have engineered a system where they can often profit from our misery. Gas prices skyrocket? Bad news for us; great news for them, so they can buy another $275 million jumbo jet, $500+ million yacht, or $100 million palace with 317 rooms: just a few of the goodies owned by multi-billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who lives like a king of kings while other Saudis get on their knees and beg him for handouts. As I proved in another article, that kingdom, like all kingdoms, is illegitimate, founded on the might makes right principle, using hot lead to make people get on their knees and stay there. Obama bowed to the Saudi king and Bush held the hand of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah as they walked side-by-side—both being overly chummy with a royal family that makes the Mafia seem like nice guys.
People are sick and tired of being screwed. The current turmoil in the Middle East will spread to other countries. When the dust settles years from now, I predict that the fat cats who do not live by the sweat of their brows will no longer enjoy figuratively picking fruit they did not plant. For example, in the U.S., the richest 1% account for 24% of the nation's income—but do they do a quarter of the work or generate a quarter of the great ideas? Hardly! (Here's some proof.) Instead, they engineered a system where they reap most of the rewards contributed by the actual doers and thinkers. However, they aren't satisfied with that; they want an even bigger piece of the pie, and they're willing to pay off politicians to rig the system so they can get piles of gold for doing little to nothing of value while the folks who keep the world running are left to fight over the remaining scraps of what's left after the greedy elite and ruling class take out far more than they deserve.
You don't need a college degree in economics to realize this isn't right, just, equitable, or even excusable; you just need bloody hands, or something equivalent, and the willingness to think for yourself, instead of letting the talking heads on TV tell you how we should continue playing by rules designed to screw us.
Back in the days when I was a proud Republican, I was irked when one of my friends challenged my beliefs that I now realize were overly simplistic knee-jerk reactions, not products of careful thought and analysis. This friend didn't fit into any Republican or Democratic box; indeed, she felt that anyone who did could be easily exploited by our political system that is doing a marvelous job of threatening and eroding our liberties and prosperity—yet those insatiable tyrants are constantly trying to take more of what we have and once enjoyed as unquestionable freedoms.
Our Founding Fathers knew that it is the natural course of governments to progressively usurp freedom. The erosion of our liberties was catalyzed by the expansion of our federal government, which seems to know no bounds for the limits of its power. Our system is broken and burdened by problems so severe that implementing all of the good inside-the-box ideas for stimulating our economy (such as reducing taxes and regulation) won't save us. Repaying our national debt is virtually impossible.
When good inside-the-box ideas are not enough to save us, you can give up—which I refuse to do—or look for great outside-the-box ideas. However, our inside-the-box nation excels in ridiculing anyone who doesn't think the same as everyone else. We will eventually rue the day we enforced rigid conformity to a broken system.
The history of the 20th century includes a tantalizing example of how an economy much worse than ours can be quickly put into overdrive, but Hitler—the man who engineered that economic reversal—is so hated for other things he did that most people cannot appreciate that while he was indeed one of the greatest monsters of all time, he did something that would leave even the brightest modern leaders awestruck: take a bankrupt economy in total collapse and rapidly solve economic problems that seemed insolvable. Our brightest economists are basically scratching their heads in befuddlement, wondering what we can do to reverse our economic problems, and their collective answer boils down to, “Not much. Get used to it. Oh, by the way, it's going to get worse. Brace yourself.”
The palatability of that shortsightedness and defeatism is excruciatingly less tolerable because it is wholly unnecessary. Economics has been spun into such a nightmarishly complex subject that students and even esteemed professors and supposed sages can't see the forest through the trees; they miss the big picture.
Imagine you see a hideously ugly house with a gorgeous door—perhaps like the one above I made for my Mom's shed. If you liked the door but not the home, you wouldn't need to duplicate the home to duplicate the door. Separating the wheat from the chaff—taking the good and leaving the bad behind—is utterly obvious, yet few people realize that we could take Hitler's one good idea and leave his evil craziness behind. Just try mentioning his name and see the reaction it evokes: “Eewwww, Hitler? He knew something about economics that Bush and Obama do not … really?”
Yes, really. What Bush and Obama know about economics is how to spend money that digs a hole we can't climb out of using conventional ideas.
It is easy to find fault with the imperfections of Hitler's economic ideas, but criticizing them while we tolerant the myriad imperfections in our system makes as much sense as focusing on acne on the back of the man who just set a world record for the 100-meter dash while we're figuratively sitting in a wheelchair on the starting line. Pointing out imperfections in the winner does nothing to erase the fact that he left us in the dust. Just as we could take the door and leave the ugly home behind, we could benefit from 20/20 hindsight and take the best of Hitler's economic plan and meld that with our best ideas. Instead, the brilliance we get from our leaders is limited to them devising clever ways to screw us without too many sheeple noticing how they are needlessly being shafted.
If you read the article I wrote on Germany's sudden rebound from what seemed to be an economic grave that Superman or Houdini could not escape from, consider the simple example I gave to illustrate how giving people an incentive to work and produce more would obviously succeed—not just maybe succeed. It's been proven to succeed, yet our leaders would rather see us go bankrupt and live in misery than think outside-the-box. Hitler pressed an economic reset button and rocketed Germany out of their economic grave while our overly educated politicians and economists wonder how to put us into first gear. Our leaders are spending enormously more than Hitler, yet they achieved enormously less results—and they keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results: the definition of insanity.
It's crazy to keep doing what we've been doing, yet our leaders think they can solve problems with overspending and debt by spending more and increasing our debt. That's beyond nutty.
When leaders are fixated on following insane ideas, it is wise or at least understandable to look for alternative solutions. I did that, and I encourage you to do the same instead of letting the prominent politicians and pundits think for you. They're great at talking, but poor at thinking. Their mouths rattle almost nonstop, but their pool of bright ideas is pathetically exiguous. Lots of hot air, but no hot ideas—hence, no hot economy—but plenty of hot tempers as people lose their patience with leaders seemingly content to lead us to the economic graveyard.
I followed and once vigorously defended some of the leaders who dug our economic grave, so I won't call you crazy or stupid if you continue to think they have the solutions we need to achieve the results we want. To achieve them, we need Plan B: we need to think outside-the-box or at least tolerate those who do in an attempt to solve an economic crisis the experts have proven they cannot solve—or we will rue the day we put our blinders on.
- Two thirds of the world's population have no access to safe, affordable surgery
Comment: There are many ways to address this, including economic development, telemedicine, and robotic surgery.