Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Acquiring and Keeping Genuine Wealth and Wisdom

This article was originally published on Nov. 27th, 2007 at americanchronicle.com

My parents are elderly. They have been through a lot in their lives. They have seen a great depression, a world war, other smaller wars, an economic boom, a couple of recessions, an oil crisis, an energy crisis, etc., etc., etc. I find too often many people ignore the elderly. They feel that, for whatever reason, they know better than these people. Perhaps that is because many people may feel that times have changed and the experiences of the older folks are not relevant in today’s world. I believe there are parallels to their experiences that still apply in the modern world. In fact, if we pay attention to history, we might find that even way back in the darkness of pre-historic times there are things to be learned from the experiences of our ancestors. In many ways we are the same as they were, only the technology has changed to give us a buffer zone away from the natural world.

So, I was talking to my mother the other day. She has become interested in my writing and related to me some experiences in her life she thought might interest me and my readers. What she told me gave me food for thought. It was nothing terribly profound or earth shattering, but then again the important things seldom are. It does make one think about the validity of some libertarian ideals.

My parents were married in 1950. At that time, my father made a grand total of $2350 per year. My oldest brother was born in 1951. My mother informed me that at the time they paid $50 per month rent. The doctor’s bill for delivering the baby was $50. The hospital bill for a five day stay was $50. The reason for these low bills was simple. Everyone of consequence, the hospital administrators, the doctor and the landlord, knew my parents. They were aware of their financial situation. My parents had no insurance at the time. These people took this into account and used the personal responsibility bestowed upon them by nature to decide to charge my parents only as much as they could afford to pay. Because these people were able to exercise their personal responsibility, they had concern for their fellow human beings. Today the hospital can bill the state if the patient has no insurance and will therefore charge all of us for that patient’s care. When a patient has insurance they charge the insurance companies as much as they can. They don’t have to be concerned about the individual’s ability to pay. They have abdicated their personal responsibility and heaped it on the shoulders of the general public.

Fifty seven years ago the world was different. I’m not saying it was better or worse, just different. Along the way things seem to change gradually, yet compared to history things have changed rather suddenly. There are some things we may have forgotten. It seems to me that one of those things may be the nature of genuine wealth.

Today, wealth is measured by the money one makes. Yet money is only a means to an end. I believe money is simple riches. Genuine wealth comes from the inside, from the heart. It is created. There is not a static amount of wealth sitting upon the world for mankind to divvy up. This is what we have forgotten. The more work we do, the more wealth we create. The economy isn’t made from money, that’s just a choice we make as to what to use to represent trade between parties. The economy is made of humans. We are the economy. We may do well to remember this in the future if push comes to shove. What we make or build, or the services we provide, or the art we create, this is genuine wealth. To acquire such wealth, we just need to produce it.

There are a couple of concepts I believe we as Americans should get away from if we are to acquire true wealth. The first is that wealth is owed to us, that the world owes us something. The world owes nothing to any individual. It is up to the individual to best make his own way in this life. Often, a person, like electricity, will follow the path of least resistance. Some, if they can do nothing and survive, will do nothing. This does not contribute to society. People may at times need help and in a civilized society that help should be forthcoming, one should not, however, be forced through government or other means to provide that help. On the other hand, we need to get away from this concept that we must give for the betterment of society. We shouldn’t be forced to give any part of the wealth we’ve created through our own hard labor. We should be allowed to keep all the wealth we make honestly and to decide on a voluntary basis who to give it to in exchange for the goods and services we consume. If there is wealth left over after one’s needs are met, then he can decide for himself whether or not to be charitable.

Genuine wealth is created between people, not between institutions. It is something that cannot be taken away because it comes from inside ourselves, not from some bank or government outside our control. These institutions may loan or give us money, but they take wealth. They steal it from those who would crawl to them and beg for help to get out of some temporary fix they imagine themselves into. They would loan you their fictitious money created from nothing, already based solely on someone else’s debt, and then steal your land, or your labor, or your product, or any property you may own when you find you can’t pay back the money due to some unfortunate circumstance, or when you can’t afford the taxes, or when you voice your dissent and try to protest the system. It is up to us to decide to cooperate with each other if we are to overcome those who would try to confiscate our real wealth.

Genuine wisdom is more than just knowledge. It is knowledge combined with action, hopefully in such a way so as one’s goals are achieved. One can have all the knowledge in the world and it would do him no good if he refuses to act on it. If the goal is to elevate the wealth of all of mankind, if the goal is for everyone to at least have the chance to live together in peace and harmony, and to live well under such conditions, then we had better start acting upon the knowledge we have, for we are slipping. It would be a start if we decided to use something provided by nature to represent our labor and our creations, something solid to replace the “money” we use today. Gold and silver have always been best for this, but there are other precious metals, some more abundant than others, that can be used. We should then keep an eye on those who would store our treasure to make sure they do not loan us our own money and then charge us interest. Lastly, we should not destroy the wealth of others in lands far from our own because we fear they might do something bad to us. We should bring our troops home to protect the treasures we have here. We should let those in foreign lands keep their own treasures and trade with them in an honest and fair manner. Do these things and we will acquire genuine wealth and wisdom, as once upon a time our country’s founders demonstrated. Establish these practices and then protect them from the corruption that has crept into our political system over the past several decades and we will be able to keep what we have earned.

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