Today’s socialist displays a complete disconnect between desires and the reality of what it takes to create those desires.
This should likely be common knowledge to me by this point in time, but I never experienced personally until I started to frequent a socialist Facebook page called “Capitalism Kills”.
It was only after spending a few weeks observing popular complaints by leftists (most on the page are avowed Marxists) that the point really sunk in. Most of the people on this page had no idea what it takes to bring something into being/ A house, car, electronic device, internet, electricity, food. The theory many of them claim is that with all these things there is more than enough available for each person to have one (house, car, etc.) and it is the fault of capitalism and greed that everyone does not have one already.
It seems the modern socialist lives in a world where products arrive on shelves already made, and food appears out of thin air.
They love the iPad and (for example) and want everyone to have one, or as many as they need, but they seem to hate, or be completely unaware of, the process that brought it into being.
While they love the shiny new device they seem to strongly oppose at every junction the very things it takes to create it, a sort of strange cognitive dissonance or maybe just a lack of desire to understand.
They ignore the fact that it was mining, the dirty task of digging up the earth to extract her treasures, which brought up the silver, gold, palladium and steel required to build the circuitry.
After that it was the oil, steel, and rubber of the trucks and ships that brought the raw materials to the smoke belching refineries; from there, more transportation to the factories where men and machine forged those raw goods into circuitry.
Through all this process people must be paid, taxes gathered, resources used, and only after all that do we finally have the finished product; which must still be marketed and sold, supporting people in offices, media outlets, and even supporting the freelance podcaster or YouTube reviewer.
Just so you could buy that iPad.
It seems, however, that this is not understood; as simple as it should be to accept.
A common response to anyone pointing out the amount of work required to bring something to market is that machines will eventually replace all of these people. But, until all these tasks can be automated and done by machine (and even then, who will maintain the machines or maintain the power plants that power the factories in which these machines work to create what we want?) we will need people all along this creative trail. We need the ugly factories, mines and refineries, because without them these shiny goods wouldn’t exist.
In this group a regularly occurring theme is the removal of money as a medium of exchange and everything being free while people simply pursue their passion or interest and we just trade and share. I won’t get into scarcity and supply and demand (since we all know those basic principles), but according to this group, those principles are imaginary, and don’t actually exist.
I had a conversation recently in this group where, aside from expressing their absolute hatred of landlords, they discussed why housing should be free for all people.
Could this be possible?
Let me say this. I would love to be able to have the house of my dreams without having to pay for it. I’d love a cabin in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, with a view overlooking the valley but only minutes from town so it’s not inconvenient for me to make trips to the grocery store (who would work as a grocer if money didn’t exist and everything was free, I don’t know. I sure wouldn’t, but maybe there is someone who sees that as their passion, so let’s assume that’s the case).
Now, the question becomes (and I’m genuinely looking for the answer) who will build my cabin? (Let’s ignore my car, or the trucks and cranes it takes to erect the structure, the raw materials and forging of hammer and nails, the lumber and sawmills that turn it into useable material). I certainly cannot build it. I am lucky I know a handful of people who can, but would they spend months or years of their time building me a home for nothing? How about all the thousands (dare I say millions or billions worldwide) of others who would want the same as me?
I mean, if it’s free (and we assume that no one will be greedy and want two homes, or the best views for themselves) you can guarantee that everyone will want the best home. In a world where all houses and apartments are equal in value, who is going to stay in a rundown neighborhood?
If it’s free, why not have all free modern houses on large lots, with all the modern amenities, million-dollar homes for everyone?
For the sake of simplicity let’s ignore the idea that billions of people would only want top of the line furniture, appliances, electronics, automated systems, etc. And we will ignore how the innovation came about to make those top of the line items. We will also ignore the amount of raw materials, mining, and refining that would be needed for each family to have these items as well as why on Earth anyone would do those jobs of mining and refining when they could be an artist or video game player and have all the same benefits in home, car, and luxuries of life. Why would I show up for work if I worked in a dirty mine where I know I’m putting my health on the line? I wouldn’t even if you paid me, but thankfully there are some people who would.
But for now, let’s ignore those realities.
Let’s just say you would mandate by law that everyone must put in a certain amount of hours per week in their certain trade. Thus, production continues as it would today. Why would the upcoming generation pick oil work in the frozen tundra of Northern Canada or the insanely remote and scorched regions of the Middle East? Why do that when you could opt instead to be a dog walker and still live in millionaire luxury? We would likely see a much greater skills shortage than we already see today.
See, I wish it were possible, I really do. I wish socialism was the opportunity for promised utopia they claim it is and that all those dreams would come true.
I wish I could do my degree for free (though the supply of certain desirable degrees would absolutely overwhelm the need for people skilled in those fields) and live in the luxury enjoyed by the 100-hour work week entrepreneurs, or investment bankers and stock brokers.
To be honest, who isn’t even a little jealous of those few people like Dan Bilzerian, or Kim Kardashian who seem to enjoy immense riches while barely having to do any kind of work?
I wish we could have a world where there was no reason to pursue monetary gain, where we could have a lavish lifestyle and all that we want and need while working only on the things we want to, but unless someone can come up with some ingenious way to ensure we can provide even more, resource wise, without needing people to do dirty work that they don’t like, it’s just another nice daydream.
I still don’t know who would consider spending weeks away from family in the far flung frozen north to extract oil to be their “passion.” Or who would work cabling a new building for internet service because that’s just what they’ve always dreamed of. Who would take customer complaints at the electric or phone company? Those are roles that deserve higher reward if you ask me. There is nothing wrong with those noble professions, but they are far from the likely more glamorous roles many of us would choose to play without the necessity being present.
Human nature is still now, as it always has been, something that must be contended with. What allows the creation of million-dollar homes, top of the line appliances, more than adequate food supply, electronics, and wonders of electricity and Internet showing up at our doorsteps is the massive incentive for people to risk capital (both as investors and as entrepreneurs) in creating the infrastructure, the businesses, and for others to work in remote or undesirable roles to bring these luxuries to us.
If you can devise a system that takes all this into account and can still provide all of what we each desire in life, without losing the drive and innovation that the struggle and competition tend to bring about, please let me know I’ll be the first to support you.
Our systems are far from perfect, and I believe change is possible, especially a mental shift to balance between a pragmatically capitalist mindset and a kinder people centered mindset in both work and life overall, but when dreaming up a brave new world, we must be sure that we at least begin with a thorough understanding of the realities of the current one.