The Therapy Sessions
Sunday, October 24, 2004
My Thanksgiving post (and yes, I have plagiarized myself):
I gripe a lot on this blog. One would think that I am quite unhappy.
But in reality, things are pretty good in my life, and this blog is just a way of letting off steam.
When I think about it, I live like a king. Right now, a farmer somewhere is tending the calves that will make the milk for my refrigerator and the beef for my table. There are teams of doctors waiting to serve me should I fall sick, and engineers are ensuring that whenever I turn on a light, I will see light; others are working to make sure I will have the gas to heat my home this winter. I have workers in the fields picking my vegetables, fisherman out in the sea catching fish for me, and farmers are tending the hens that will give my meat and eggs. Whole factories of people built the car that carries me to work, and there are several mechanics around town who long to repair it. My clothes are stitched together by people laboring in foreign lands, using the best cotton - which all had to be picked, separated and woven. A group of baby sitters watch my children for me during the day, and with a few phone calls, I can have all manner of work done on my house. People are dying to know all kinds of things about me: what services I need or want, and what I think of them.
And for each one of these people, I have dozens of people who long to replace them in their servitude. They used to call me at home (but now they can’t – its illegal in PA – Ha! Ha!), so they fill my mailbox with crap trying to get me to buy their stuff, they invade my computer and jump out at me from my TV.
Ah, the annoyances of being royalty.
I’m one of the happiest people I know. I have a great wife – she is really my best friend and we laugh a lot together. My kids are happy and healthy. This house - though small -is in a great neighborhood with good schools. I can't imagine moving. I love my work and I can't see myself working in another field.
I’m not rich, but I sure feel like it. In reality, I’m pretty average – depressingly so. My house is kind of small and my car is kind of old. I wince at how much money I pay in taxes, day care and mortgage. In the supermarket, I can tell you that beef has been really expensive lately, so we have been eating more pork and chicken.
Yet I amuse myself by thinking about the thousands of people who make my boring average life the wonderful luxury that it is. After all, I’m richer than 99.99% of all the people who have ever lived – as are most Americans and Westerners.
I lived in West Africa for a time. I know for a fact that for a large portion of the world, most of these things - doctors, engineers, diverse food - are unattainable at any cost. It gives me sense of perspective, and a reason to be thankful for the things I take for granted.
This is no paean to materialism. Money doesn’t buy happiness! It’s true! (But it doesn’t hurt either.)
So why do I complain?
I complain because this country is full of people who can't see this wonderful system of capitalism for what it is.
For them, food, housing and medical care aren't things that you labor to procure.
They are rights and entitlements.
These spoiled children believe that they - and everyone - should get the best of all these things, merely because they were born.
I exist, therefore I get.....
They must be opposed, for the only thing that can truly be shared equally is misery.
You are entitled to nothing that you cannot earn, and you have no right to force others to labor on your behalf. This is the fallacy behind "economic rights," and it has become the ideological compass of the modern Democratic Party. For all the nice sounding rhetoric ("all we want to do is to give free healthcare to every American!), it is simply socialism. And it has never worked. Anywhere.
The framers of the Bill Of Rights had it right the first time. None of their rights cost anyone anything.
You have the right to say what you wish; the government doesn't buy you a printing press.
You have a right to a gun; the government doens't buy you one.
You have right to worship as you wish. Or not. The government doesn't build you a church.
Part of the problem in West Africa is that the governments decided that people had a "right" to cheap rice. These governments could not afford to buy rice for everyone, so they did the next best thing: they controlled its price, setting it very low. The farmers - knowing a bad deal when they saw it - kept their rice for themselves and no one wants to go into farming.
All of these countries - rich in water, soil and labor - import rice these days.
This is how a society of abundance can become a society of scarcity.
It could happen to us too. Some people are working toward that goal.
We should never forget that.