Sunday, March 28, 2010

WHO'S AGAINST VIOLENCE?

28 Mach, 2010

There is an explicitly held myth among the American people, promoted shamelessly by the media and the current administration, that only our side is capable of violence. We hear, daily, about threats against some legislator or bureaucrat. Some of it is petty, like the fellow on a radio show who said he’d like to slap Nancy Pelosi off the podium. Some of it is more serious, and some threats may even be credible, but it doesn’t matter if they are serious or credible. People believe they are true.

First and foremost, I want to urge all who read this to turn away from violence or threats of violence. At this point, we are talking about a few individuals who are closer to the edge than the rest of us. I believe that any man can be pushed or cornered into a violent act, but some folks are a lot easier to corner, and require a much shorter push. We all know a few of these. I urge you to talk to those people and calm them down. Get them back from the edge. If the government or the media wish to fabricate an incident, they will. We all know about a certain radio station on the German-Polish border, and in my opinion, our present administration is capable of something like that.

But let’s not give them anything legitimate. If they fabricate something, their lies will be exposed to the world, and even if they aren’t we will still have that certainty that we are innocent of wrongdoing. At the end of the road, that certainty will be worth more than you can imagine. I pray daily they don’t take this road, and I don’t seriously believe they intend to. They are opportunists, and if we give them an opportunity to pass some whirlwind, draconian, Stalinist gun control measure, they’ll do it. But let’s not see devils where they aren’t. There’s enough real ones out there; we don’t have to invent them.

And by the way, there was a poll a few day ago that supposedly revealed that a huge percentage of the American people – I heard numbers from 20-50 percent – believe that Obama is the anti-Christ. Horsehockey. First of all, things aren’t nearly bad enough now for Satan to play his ace. Second, while I do think Obama is a thoroughly evil man – a fascist, a racist, a liar, and a megalomaniac – he’s a two-bit damnyankee punk. Anyone who thinks that little slime is the best Satan has is REALLY kidding himself!

At this point, we are talking about a few individuals, but if there is an action of sufficient magnitude or violence, our enemies can use it to launch a campaign of oppression like we’ve never seen in this country. If that were to happen, there are some very thoughtful, reasonable, and ethical men and women who would fight back. Violence feeds on itself, and before long, we’d have a sure ‘nuf war on our hands. The horror of such a thing cannot be described in human language, and at this point, even if we were to bring the government to terms, what good would it do us? The voters would be so traumatized by the bloodshed they’d turn right around and elect another control freak who promised to enslave them into safety. Of course, there’s always the option of just installing someone and keeping him in office by force of arms. Yeah, right. That’s a real moral solution.

I have not read a single syllable about violence coming from the left, and there are two reasons for that. First, the media doesn’t print it when it happens. Second, the left uses violence as an everyday tool of political action, but they don’t do it themselves. They are not like us. If an individualist gets mad enough, there’s a good chance he’ll engage you directly. That doesn’t mean the violence will be measured or appropriate! Consider Tim McVeigh. He took direct action, on his own. He was a punk, too, and a discredit to our side, and there’s others like him. But McVeigh did it himself. A statist won’t do that. A statist will have the police, the military, the FBI, the IRS, or the UN do their killing for them. I don’t know if Stalin ever killed a single person with his own hands, but he used the power of the state to kill millions. If the statists want to kill you, they’ll arrange a wrong-house drug bust, or set up a scenario like Ruby Ridge or Waco.

After Waco, especially, there was a cry of rage against the FBI and BATF, and it was fully justified. However, the real cry should have been for the head of Janet Reno. She was the murdering liberal monster who signed off on using the armed might of federal law enforcement to incinerate innocent citizens on the grounds of the most preposterous of fabrications.

When the media says the left, or the progressives, or whatever they call themselves, don’t hurt people, don’t you believe it. During the 20th century, alone, almost 100 million human beings were murdered by their own governments, and not one those governments was based on the principles upon which our own government used to rest. It was not individualists or capitalists who did the killing; it was statists who were convinced they were justified in killing people who wouldn’t go along with their despotic schemes.

Now someone is going to say, in a snarky, NIGGYSOB tone of voice, “Well what about Hitler? What about the KKK and all their lynchings?” Right. Hitler was the darling of American Progressives. A lot of them thought we were on the wrong side in WWII. When our troops started finding the Dachaus and Treblinkas, American Progressives never said, “Holy crap! Were we ever wrong about that dude!” No, they quietly abandoned the stage for a time and waited for the American people – grossly mis-educated by the Progressive public school system, I might add – to forget about their love affair with fascism. Now they’re back again, trying to convince us that Hitler was actually an individualist and a capitalist. This is why it is so dangerous to use a model of “left-vs-right.” Those terms are meaningless in this context. Hitler killed a lot of socialists because he was a socialist and didn’t like them hooking on his corner.

And as for the KKK, they are fascists, pure and simple. A lot of people claim the Klan is the extreme of right-wing, or of conservative. Bull crap. On the continuum of political thought, they are right down there on that end with the Obamas, the Hitlers, Mussolinis, and the Pol Pots. Whether it’s the left end or the right end is irrelevant; it’s the statist/fascist end. You will never hear one of them urging his fellows to moderation and peaceful resistance as I am now urging my friends.

Statists, by whatever name you wish to call them, have killed a hell of a lot more people than individualists. Don’t you be hanging your head about being on the end of the continuum opposed to the present administration.


Sic Semper Tyrannis,
Rebsarge

Friday, March 26, 2010

CALL TO ACTION

26 March, 2010

First of all, here’s to the boys of the Sibley Brigade, especially Pyron’s command, who waged bloody battle at Apache Canyon on this day in 1862. Deo Vindici, Boys. Some of us remember.

Now. This is the first thing I’ve written since the health care monstrosity was signed. I went into a terrible funk for about three or four days, and it took me until now to get really mad again. It’s one of those deep down mads that can drive me all day and all night. As we begin this new phase of the war against America, I’d like to make a couple of observations.

First, let’s not be shooting our mouths off in public or on the net about violence. Even if you just say how much you’d like to poke Harry Reid in the nose, someone in the media will make you sound like Josef Mengle. A few people have been foolish enough to make threats or openly threatening gestures, and you can see what’s been done with it. Now we all know that these fascist bastards are perfectly capable of pulling off another “radio station on the Polish border” stunt. They are 100% capable of manufacturing a story about an incident that never happened. It’s perfectly possible that the statists will start the ball, and because of that, we need to be ready. However, violence is neither necessary, appropriate, nor moral at this stage of the process.

It is also possible that some loony character will get stupid and do something outrageous and give the statists a reason to come down on us, but there’s little we can do to prevent that. We all know there are Tim McVeighs out there. Let’s not do anything to add fuel to the fire. We are all pissed off and ready to throw blows, but let’s not be fantasizing about it in public. Some people are right on the hairy edge of reason, as it is, and the fiery rhetoric of people who are supposed to be calm and rational will only serve to encourage them to jump. If you know someone like this, do all you can to talk them back from the edge.

What do these scum in our government fear? I think there is one thing they fear more than death: loss of power. Everything they have done or said has been aimed at gaining power over us. They despise us. They think we are fools and worse. The very idea of being on equal footing with us lowlifes will drive them nuts. They are willing to destroy this nation and risk armed insurrection - and even their own deaths - to gain power over us, and if we can mount a credible threat to strip them of that power, I think they’ll go over the edge.

How do we do that? We get politically involved. I am stunned at the number of otherwise rational people who still think this doesn’t affect them. I have heard all the tired excuses: I don’t have time… it’s so negative, and I don’t like to dwell on it… I don’t care about politics… I don’t know what I can do… Bull crap. In this conflict, there will be no innocent bystanders. Every man, woman, and child in this nation stands to lose wealth and freedom. We will be free or we will be slaves – all of us – and there will be no one just left on the sidelines if we lose. The scum aren’t going to enslave only those who fight against them; everyone will lose.

So here’s what I’m preaching tonight. (1) Find a group and join it. Whether it’s a Tea Party group, your local Republican party, or whatever; get to be part of a group and participate to the fullest extent of your ability. No excuses. (2) Find a candidate or two who seem to you most likely to support freedom and fiscal sanity, and do all you can to support them. Remember that local government affects your life, too – maybe more than the national government in some ways. You don’t have to have a presidential candidate to support. Governors and national legislators are incredibly important. Even state legislators are important. No effort will be wasted, so grab ‘holt of something and work hell out of it! Alternatively, if there’s a congressvermin you particularly despise, find out who’s running against him or her and throw in your support (3) Talk to people. Some people are on the fence, and might, with appropriate encouragement, get off on our side. Yes, there’s a hell of lot of ‘em who are totally and deeply committed to the enemy’s agenda. Don’t waste your time on them – don’t turn your back on the bastards, either. Some of ‘em are dangerous! (4) create an email distribution list. Then find a few writers you like, who express the greatest ideas in the most powerful ways, and forward their work to your distribution list. (5) Spread ideas like those expressed here to all your friends. If you don’t like what I’ve written, find someone you do like, or write it yourself. But COMMUNICATE!!! And for gosh sakes, don’t fall into forwarding a lot of claptrap about Madalyn Murray Ohair, or other such drivel! Use Snopes or one of the other urban myth-busting sites, but don’t just forward crap without checking it out. And remember that people will add, “This checks out on Snopes,” in the knowledge that few others will actually look it up.

The vast majority of people are overwhelmed at the magnitude of the task. No individual needs to fight the whole fight alone. We can each find pieces of it that are within our ability, and with commitment, we can make all of those little pieces into a vast, unstoppable whole.

In summary, find a local group you can participate with. Find reasonable candidates and fight like hell to get them elected. Talk to people and convert those who are capable of rational thought – and don’t worry about the others. Use email to spread good ideas and good writing. Encourage all of your friends to do the same.

You don’t have to do it all, but you do have to do what you can. Whether you join the fight or sit it out, you’ll still end up a serf. Might as well fight, right?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

MONEY, 4

If the government gets its wealth by taking it from the people, where do the people get theirs? Why, you silly goose, they go to their mailboxes and pick up their welfare checks!

Sorry. Couldn’t resist a teensy bit of sarcasm. But the question is a darned good one, don’t you think? In a legitimate, moral society, where does the average person get wealth? Let’s revisit a couple of principles. There are very few points on which modern liberals have less of a clue.

First, there are only three ways of getting wealth: produce it, steal it, or beg for it.

Second, from the nature of Man, remember that he is an individual being, whose rational mind directs his body in pursuit of what he needs to live as Man.

Third, there is no such thing as a right to enslave. If a man, to live as Man, must be free to think and act accordingly, every, single individual human being has the same right. Freedom does not mean that strong people get to abuse those who are weaker.

Fourth, nothing in the world is of any value until acted upon by human beings. An ocean of fish is just that until human action transforms it into food and lies about the ones that got away.

It is my belief that no wealth has ever vanished. Once created, it may be transformed, fragmented, reconstituted, traded, or squandered, but it never vanishes. Even that which is squandered by one person becomes the wealth of another. In this vein, let us go to the beginning.

Some fellow went out and picked some berries and brought them home to his sweetie. She ate them, and used the energy from them to give birth to their baby. The baby grew up and went about doing things to sustain his own life and the lives of his family – and in our wildest dreams, that of his sainted old pappy, that berry-pickin’ motor scooter. That original batch of berries was transformed from plant reproductive matter to wealth – ie, food – by human action. It was transformed into new life, and the process was repeated ad infinitum to this very day. (A thought occurred to me in this very instant: my job at a cell phone company puts me in the position of feeding my family by my work with Blackberries. Humpf. Never thought of it that way.)

Every human being who goes out into the world to make his own way takes with him the very same, original wealth that was possessed by our berry-picker: his mind and body. A friend of mine used to say that from the neck down, we’re worth laborer’s wages. From the neck up, we’re worth fortunes unimagined.

The story has been told so many times we are tempted to regard it as a hackneyed old clich√©, but it is a true story. A young man enters the workforce as a laborer, using his muscles to earn his bread. By dint of focus and determination – both products of a rational faculty – he earns promotion and greater pay. He uses his mind more and his muscles less, for while a strong back may swing a true hammer, an active mind might direct a thousand strong backs. There is an exquisite synergy in this. Just as a man’s body without his mind is a corpse, all those strong backs would wallow in the mire but for the genius directing them to build a hydroelectric dam. And likewise, just as a man’s intellect without his body is a ghost, that marvelous computing engine would be just so much horsepower vented into the atmosphere without those magnificent, strong, willing, and skilled hands on the tools.

When the statists talk about “leveling the playing field,” they are talking about subverting and destroying this synergistic process. In fact, nature has provided the ultimate in level playing fields. We all come on the field with the same tools: a mind and a body. He who enacts the causes of wealth will reap wealth. He who enacts the causes of poverty will reap poverty. What could be more elegant and equal? Be careful, now; we are still speaking of a legitimate, moral society. I’m fully aware that all manner of forces act to pervert the game.

Foremost of these is the power of the statists in all levels of government. They tax the successful with a progressive income tax. They reward the lazy and foolish with money taken from the successful. Tell me how this is a “level playing field:” One man works his guts out, risks everything, and creates a fortune, but after taxes, has enough to feed his family beans. Another man quits school, turns up his nose at the military, blows every penny he gets on booze, hookers, and lottery tickets, and still has enough to feed his family beans.

And what of the weak, the lame, the mentally challenged? They certainly don’t come to the game with the same tools with which others are blessed. Many of them do, however, come with tools of some fashion, and by the charitable grace of their better-endowed neighbors, they, too, can produce within their ability. For those who just flat lack usable tools, there is charity, and free people have proven again and again that they are the very souls of charity. Look at the millions collected for Indonesia, Haiti, and Chile, and this is hardly the most prosperous of times for the US.

How do you get the rich to be charitable? First, let ‘em be rich! Were you ever offered a job by a poor guy? We all know the parable of the widow’s mite, and it is a wonderful lesson, but where, in this great, mediocrity-worshipping, whining, sniveling, statist mob in which we live do you ever hear the story of the rich man’s talents? You won’t, because it is not fashionable to think that rich people are decent human beings who are willing to share their good fortune with others. Sure, you’ll find the odd skinflint who hides his money in his mattress and won’t give a nickel to help anybody, but he’s the exception. (See also, “TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS, posted in this blog in Feb., 2010..)

In this line of thinking, however, is a terrible trap! Ronald Reagan was one of the most egregious purveyors of this error. He proposed that men ought to be free to become wealthy so they could pay more taxes. Baloney. (I almost said horseshit, because that’s so much more fitting a term.)
The reason for allowing men to be free to become rich is… allowing them to be free! Men ought to be free because that’s the way they are made. If a free man shares his wealth, good for him. If he doesn’t share, good for him. He may have to answer for it later, but that’s not up to us!
If money is honestly earned, how it is spent is the business of no one save him who earned it.

You see, statists aren’t against money. Oh, they rail against the rich and preach cannibalism (a 1970’s bumper sticker said, “EAT THE RICH.”) but they really love money as much as the next fellow. The difference between decent people and statists is that the former don’t care how money is spent, as long as it is earned honestly. The latter don’t give a rip how it’s earned as long as they get to control how it’s spent. Look at this: our present government isn’t trying to keep people from earning more than a certain amount; they just want to control how all that money is spent. Look at the graft and corruption they are willing to overlook, as long as they get their hands on the proceeds.

The source of wealth is human action applied to nature. Period. Wealth does not come from a government printing press. Sorry.

MONEY, 3

Okay. We’ve got the beginnings of a civilized society. We’ve got specialization of labor, law, police, military, and politicians. In spite of a great many false starts and wrong turns, the basic, innate decency of our species led us in a generally liberal course. People really did try to have decent government, and there were some genuinely decent people involved in government. From those instances, great progress was made, and marvelous principles were recorded. Yeah, I know. It took a long time, and there was a lot of blood and misery along the way, but we finally arrived at a sweltering room filled with grouchy old white guys in 1787. The document they crafted did, indeed, authorize the national government to hire employees and provide certain services. Obviously, all that government service requires wealth to pay the police, military, and judges. Ah. Back to money.

Where does a government get its wealth? From the people. What does government produce? Force. Nothing else. What was the first and only purpose of government? To be the trustee of force in the name of the people, according to the letter of their law. The people did the producing, and the government kept the boogers off ‘em. Does government fish? Make shoes? Run a blast furnace? Drive a truck? No. The government wields force. Remember that, because we’ll get into it in spades later. So if a government does not produce anything, where does it get its operating capital? From the people. The people have to want the government badly enough to voluntarily share their sustenance with it.

What is the maximum amount of wealth a government can have? 100% of the wealth of the people. Can a government have more wealth than that? No. It can print more money, but it can’t have more wealth. Like the ancient sheep deposits, the money printed by the government is a promise to redeem the notes for something of real value, generally specie. The money can’t have more value than the total, net wealth of the people.

Let’s say the entire wealth of the people is a hundred bucks. (Obviously, this is pre-Bush/Obama.) Now let’s say the government wishes to fund public art by buying, at outrageous prices, pieces of crap no working man in his right mind would even look at, much less buy. So the government seizes the entire wealth of the nation. Aesthetic enlightenment, however, comes high, and will require a lot more than a C-note, so the government just prints some more money – let’s say, a thousand bucks worth. Now the government has enough money to pay some bug-eating hippie for his abstract of sticks and turds.

But wait a minute. What is the wealth that stands behind that grand? There is still only a hundred bucks worth of real wealth. So instead of each dollar being worth 1/100th the wealth of the people, each dollar is now worth 1/1000th the wealth of the people. This is called inflation. There’s more money in circulation, but the value of each dollar is only a tenth what it was. That means the hippie got ripped off. Sure, he got paid, say, 800 bucks for his creation, but he can only buy 80 bucks worth of groceries.

Do you really think the grocer would have failed to notice the government’s theft of his money? What’s he going to do? He’s going to increase his prices in order to maintain his lifestyle because everything he buys is also ten times more expensive.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is simple. In fact, it is so simple that many hundreds of hours of college education are required to obfuscate it. That, or a single election cycle.

Let’s digress for a minute. When you give someone a dollar for something, you are giving them one dollar’s worth of your life. You worked a certain period of time for that dollar, so, while the dollar is money, your time and skill are wealth. Next time someone says, “It’s only money,” run like the devil; he may be serious. Money stands for wealth, which stands for life. When a man pays you a wage, he is saying, “I value your time and skill enough to give you this portion of my life in exchange for it.”

When you go to a store to buy something, you tell the cashier, “I want to buy that.” The cashier asks, “Can you prove you’ve done something for someone else that they thought was worth a dollar’s worth of their life?”

You say, “By golly, I have, and here’s the dollar bill to prove it.” When you trade money for the goods that service your life, you are trading not only your own lifespan, but the lifespan of everyone involved in the chain of production and trade that led to your having that dollar bill. The moral person gets wealth – or money – only by providing services to other human beings.

Wow. How contemptible is that?

In a moral – ie, free – society, men and women trade freely of their time, skill, and the wealth they produce. If a free man sees a person in need, and wishes to help, he has the option of giving that person a bit of his life. This is called charity, and in my opinion, it is a very great virtue. Americans have always been the most charitable people on Earth, in no small part because they have had wealth enough to share. Ever try begging an apple from a starving guy? You’ll pull back a nub.

In a statist – ie, government controlled – society, men and women are taxed. The government takes money from them and redistributes it to those whom the government thinks deserve it. That is to say, some people (the government) take money from other people (the taxpayers) for the benefit of still other people (the supposedly poor.)

So, if the goal is to take care of the poor, and since the government cannot have more wealth than the combined wealth of its citizens, could not the poor be served as well by charity?

Of course, they could. Money given freely would serve them as well as money taken at gunpoint. It makes no difference to the poor. To the people in government, however, it makes an enormous difference. If men were left free to decide whom they would support, they might choose to support some who would not support government.

People in the government must enact force to take money from those who have it, keep a good bit for themselves, and give the rest to those who will vote for more government. There’s a clich√©’ that says, “He who robs Peter to pay Paul can generally count on the support of Paul.” The statists will tell you that charity is inadequate – that only welfare, enforced at the point of a gun, can be adequate. That’s a stinking lie. The difference between charity and welfare is liberty.

MONEY, 2

As this hypothetical society grew more populous, the number of thieves also grew. Folks had to go about armed, and stay alert at all times. It’s hard to fish while you’re looking over your shoulder for a claim-jumper. Someone noticed that old Joe, over there, was one tough cookie, and the claim-jumpers left him alone. “Say, Joe. If you’ll keep these creeps off my back, I’ll give you two fish a day.” Joe says that’s okay with him, and you have the first military – and, coincidentally, the first protection racket.

There are side-trips involved in this particular bit of social Darwinism: things like the invention of hemp rope, whereby hangs more than a tale, and the invention of shooting irons. But those are for a different story.

As things evolved, someone decided that in his little corner of paradise, they could put the thieves on notice by posting a sign that said, “No thieves allowed.” Such a sign would have no impact unless everyone in the area agreed to beat the crap out of any thieves that came around. The locals agreed, and they put up a sign, and the law was born. Joe noticed the sign, sauntered over and said, “I’ve got some tough boys here with me, and we’d be happy to enforce that sign if you’ll pay us.” And that was the first police force. It worked pretty good until Joe or one of his shoulder-strikers decided to hold the people up for more pay, at which time the whole community rose up and lynched the overly ambitious ones. When the lynching was done, they remembered what a pain it was to have to go armed and looking over their shoulders all the time, so they reestablished a police force, hopefully with better, more clearly defined terms and conditions.

One of the principles they recognized was that an appointed law enforcement agent could be much more objective in enforcing the law than could individual citizens. If enforcement were left up to each citizen, no two people would do it the same, and the potential for law suits (in those days, pronounced “Doo’- uls”) was great. I’m sure there was some smooth talking and some serious negotiation, and no end of false starts and hemp resets, but the process was on its way.

The documented portion of the evolution of human government begins ‘way after the actual beginning. Who knows what permutations it went through? I’d be willing to bet, though, that the main force driving the development of government was a desire for loot and power. The looting and rape would have gone on forever but for the advent of a few enormous, almost tectonic forces: population growth, travel and commerce, the invention of the longbow and firearms, and the discovery of the New World, to name a just a few. But tyranny has never given up, for one of the greatest failings of our kind is the desire to rule over others – to take their property, their wealth, their sons and their daughters. And much that is noblest in our kind has been done in resistance to that tyranny. The Scriptures tell us there must be opposition in all things. Indeed, basic epistemology tells us that we distinguish one thing from another by the differences, or opposition, between them.

Great virtue can be seen only in the company of great vice. Freedom can be seen only in the company of tyranny.

So now we have an economy based on the specialization of labor, we have boundaries, custom-become-law, we have rudimentary government, and we have police. Remember this, though: the first and true repository of the law was the people. The law started with the desire of the people to be free from the burden of constant vigilance and arbitrary standards. The people voluntarily gave enforcement of the law to the police. The police never owned the law. They were custodians of it, holding it in the name and interest of the people. When some college-educated fascist sonofa… JERK starts wringing his hands about people, “…taking the law into their own hands…” it makes me want to puke. In the hands of the people is precisely where the law was conceived, born, and raised. When the government becomes the enemy of the law, whether through neglect or tyranny, or pure-dee thuggish desire for power, it is the right of the people – nay, it is the solemn responsibility of the people - to take the law from the government, beat the crap out of the government, and set up a new government.

Is there a more eloquent, succinct way of saying all that? Let’s try this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness

I love that! In case you don’t recognize it, it’s from the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson in the summer of 1776, and I’ve never seen a better, more powerful exposition of the principle.

Monday, March 8, 2010

ORIGIN OF MONEY,PT 1

WARNING: There may some tongue-in-cheek attempts at humor in the following. No, I do not seriously propose that it happened just this way, but I’m pretty sure the general steps were something like this.

In the beginning, there were few people, each doing everything needed to sustain his own life. They must have been pretty good at, too, because before long (geologically speaking) there were a lot more people. Nothing they needed to live was naturally available in usable form. Fruit and berries had to be picked. Firewood had to be carried. Fish had to be caught. The stuff was out there, but required human action to make it usable by humans. An ocean of fish are of no value until someone catches one of ‘em. A fish is just a fish until human action turns it into food; it’s the human action that adds value.

(A side note on the concept of “natural resources:” The fish gain intrinsic value in their natural state only to the extent of someone’s ability to envision what might be done with them in the future. Oil wasn’t worth squat until some sharpie figured out how to make it slick and burn it.)

One day, someone realized that he was awfully good at making shoes, but not much of an axe maker. His neighbor was a heck of an axe-maker, but ran around barefoot. So this guy goes to his neighbor and swaps a pair of shoes for an axe. Now multiply that process and the principle upon which it is built many, many times and you have an economy and a society built on the free exchange of goods and services. Everyone did what he did best or enjoyed most.

There are only two ways to get what you need: you can produce it or have someone else produce it for you. If you choose the former, your only concern is for the ownership of the raw materials. If you choose the latter, you have two ways of getting it from the other person: without his permission or with it. If you choose the former, you are a thief, pure and simple. (Paying someone else to do your stealing for you doesn’t keep you from being a thief; it makes you a politician, and your employee a tax collector.)

If you choose the latter, there are but two ways of getting the other’s permission: trade for the stuff or just ask him to give it to you. If you choose the latter, you are a beggar. No shame in that, as it stands, but not much future, either. If you choose the former, you must trade something for his goods. Since you are doing this with his agreement, it must be something he will voluntarily accept in exchange. This takes us directly back to the first question in this reduction. If he wants shoes, you must either make the shoes, yourself, or get them from someone else.

To boil all that down, there are three ways of surviving: produce what you need (Whether for self-consumption or trade makes no difference; you are producing the stuff, yourself.), beg for it, or steal it. You are a producer or a parasite. Period. No other options. No amount of window dressing or semantic hair splitting or image-building terminology will change this fact. Beggars and thieves are parasites, consuming the living tissue of the society that keeps them alive. No thief or beggar can survive without producers to prey upon. Do you hear me, Barack?

So in the beginning, wealth was real: shoes, axes, fish, sheep, grain, etc.

When you trade sheep for apples, you have to (1) find an apple farmer who likes mutton, and (2) carry your sheep to him. Man! What a pain! Then someone had a real brainstorm. “I’ll leave my sheep in town, and give the apple farmer a note saying he can have them in exchange for the apples.” That worked pretty good until some sharpie figured out that he could lie about having the sheep, at which point the apple farmer quit accepting paper as trade. It couldn’t have been long before some enterprising gent said, “Tell you what. You leave the sheep with me. I’ll give you a certificate saying you’ve deposited them with me. The farmer knows I’m trustworthy, so he’ll take my certificate, and you won’t have to carry your sheep with you. In exchange for loaning you my reputation, I’ll keep one of the sheep for myself.” Ah. The birth of the banker.

Pretty soon, folks were running all over, exchanging sheep certificates for apple certificates. This not only freed people from hauling sheep all over creation, it also opened up choices. For example, let’s say the apple farmer didn’t like mutton, but he really needed some wheels for his ride. He traded the sheep certificate to the wheelwright for a new set of wheels. There were a jillion different certificates – sheep and apples, of course, and cows, shoes, fishhooks, barrels, plows, services – like plowing, or babysitting – you name it. However the trading was somewhat limited geographically because, while the wheelwright didn’t take the sheep, directly, he still had to be close enough to ‘em to herd ‘em home.

Then someone came up with one of the greatest ideas in all human history. “Let’s set up a standard of exchange, and pick some substance to represent it. The substance needs to be rare enough that not everyone can gave an unlimited supply of it. There were probably a few false starts before they settled on precious metals – silver and gold. It worked like this: you sold your sheep to a broker (dare I say a stock broker?) in exchange for specie. You then carried the specie to the apple farmer and traded it for apples. The farmer had the freedom of trading the specie to anyone for anything. It was universal. It was convenient. It was so flippin’ cool! A bit of this stuff in one’s pocket could be transformed into anything in the world! Even services, like plowing, could be exchanged for it, and it for services. Shoot, folks could be found who would do stuff in exchange for it, and thus was born the idea of working for wages. (And so, too, was born the blues.)

Only one, final evolution remained. Gold is heavy, and if you are going very far it’s a pain to carry much of it. We go now back to the banker. If a man’s reputation were sufficiently strong, he could write out a certificate saying you had so much gold on deposit with him, and you could travel with the certificate. Fits right in your pocket. Your trading partner, even across the Alps, could give that certificate to his banker in exchange for gold or other certificates, which could then be exchanged in Germany as easily as your original could be in Italy. Gold on the banks of the Med could finance business clear up on the North Sea. It was too good an idea to keep secret, and pretty soon, the whole world was using money. Money was not the root of all evil. It was the mechanism by which human society broke the chains of feudalism and spanned the globe. It enabled – and continues to enable – the development of technology, medicine, art… you name it. Any human being can trade labor for money and thus finance his life as a producer, rather than as a parasite.

Barter was surely the basis of it all, and some advocate a return to a barter system. That would catastrophic. Think about the people who work in a semiconductor factory. They make the chips that drive the computers that have changed the world. Without them, all industry would fail, and all finance and investment would crash. But the people who make the bloody things have skills that are utterly useless outside the factory. How much market is there in an agrarian, barter economy for someone who can deposit 12 microns of boron on a silicon substrate? And when you concentrate thousands of people in a small area like a factory town, how can you get enough cattle and cabbage in there to feed ‘em all? The smell, alone, would destroy an economy!

You have to have money to run an industrial or technological society. It was money that freed us from the soil – money that freed us from the plow and the forge – money that let us develop the technology to take us to the stars – money that let Ray Kroc feed cheap hamburgers to more people that were living on Earth 100 years ago. Money the root of all evil? No, it is one of the noblest and finest inventions of the human mind. Money was first built on the integrity and trustworthiness of a handful of visionary men. That’s something, isn’t it? How can something built on trust and honesty and decency and hard work be bad? And yet, it is almost universally regarded as vile and filthy, the source of sin and depravity.

How did that happen?