Your cruise ship sinks, you and one other person, a stranger, are the only survivors, and your lifeboat lands on a deserted island. The two of you have no provisions. Your survival depends on wresting your sustenance from the island. You quickly learn the essentials of both economics and moral philosophy. Or you die.
Lesson one, the foundation for everything else: you are more interested in your own survival than that of your companion, and likewise. You’re both self-interested, because you have to be. The next lesson: production is the foundation of your island economy, not consumption. You can’t eat a coconut that hasn’t been gathered. Fruit must be picked, fish caught, huts built, and fresh water found. Production requires effort and an accurate assessment of reality. There are penalties, not payoffs, for sloth or delusion.
If the two of you grow tired of living hand-to-mouth and want to make life easier in the future, perhaps by setting up a fresh water delivery system or cultivating plants, you will have to plan, forego leisure time and current consumption, and use some of your resources. That’s savings and investment: using today’s surplus and effort to generate tomorrow’s improvement and wealth.
You may be better at building and maintaining huts, your companion at farming. You offer to build his hut if he’ll provide you with food: comparative advantage, voluntary exchange, and gains from trade. If he offered palm fronds for your hut, or you offered the same for his plants, there would be no trade; value must be offered for value. If one of you stole the other’s production, the victim would either incapacitate the thief or move to the other side of the island. Both thief and victim would be the poorer for it.
Let’s assume a happier outcome, that you and your companion survive, thrive, and improve your island life. You two may not like each other, but your joint interest in self-preservation has led you to production, specialization, voluntary exchange, saving, investment, and progress. You have unmistakable and irreplaceable feelings of competence, achievement, pride, and self-respect. You’re a better person than before the shipwreck.
The happy day comes when you are rescued. Or is it happy? “Civilization” turns your island economics and morality upside down. Consumption and debt, not production, saving, and investment, are believed to be the basis of the economy. Governments issue debt, pieces of paper or computer entries that might as well be palm fronds. Central banks exchange their fronds for governments’, and that’s supposedly the linchpin of the global economy. Apparently nobody needs to produce, save, or invest in order not to starve.
Or perhaps not; production, saving, and investment still occur. If, on your island there had been a third survivor who refused to work although able to do so, claiming it was your duty to keep him alive, you would have let him die with no regrets. Back in civilization, these third parties reign supreme. The self-interest motivating producers is bad; the motives of those who take from them are unquestionably good. It’s as if that hypothetical third survivor had said: “I’m virtuous because I produce nothing, you two are evil because you do, feed me,” and you had in fact fed him.
Actually, civilization is far worse. Not only are the non-productive kept alive, they’re in charge. They don’t produce, but they tax, regulate, redistribute (mostly to themselves), and mortgage the production of those who do. They wage stupid and costly wars that benefit their friends in the war and intelligence industries but increase the threats and dangers faced by everyone else. The plunge their nations into debt and have brought the global economy to the brink of ruin.
The honest and productive toil on, hoping against hope that their masters will leave them alone. As their liberties shrink while their masters’ powers increase, as the governments they fund grow ever bigger and more intrusive, they are told they have nothing to fear as long as they do nothing wrong, as defined by the masters, of course. That’s a vicious asininity. “Wrong” is always shifting and arbitrary, at the discretion of the masters, and the right—integrity and productive ability—only gets more taxed and regulated, condemned, and forcefully reminded of its duties to society, or more accurately, to the masters.
They can’t leave the productive alone; their survival depends on them. Your life, your mind, your skills, your effort, and your work are theirs, to be disposed of as they see fit. But it’s moral parasitism that makes physical parasitism possible. On the island, the nonproductive third castaway could have only survived by convincing you it was your duty to support him. History’s greatest heist, swindle, and travesty has been the never-ending effort to convince those who produce that they owe something to those who don’t. Slavery can be imposed by force, but it’s not especially productive. Convince producers that their lives are yours, and you get the production without the whips and chains. That has been the philosopher’s stone for every half-baked collectivist, redistributionist, populist, authoritarian, totalitarian pipe dreamer who ever became or wanted to become a “leader,” and their motley cohorts.
Some producers sell out: if you can’t beat ’em, join em. Some think accommodation is possible, compromise between the voracious and the devoured. If that’s your strategy, how has it worked out? And some simply give up, weary, embittered, and resigned to the incomprehensible: everybody and anybody is entitled to their lives and work except them.
Nothing is working out, things just get worse. Years worth of future production are implicitly pledged to pay the ever-mounting debt, much of which will never be repaid, no matter how high already exorbitant taxes go. Palm frond exchange between governments, central banks, and their financial co-conspirators has not produced prosperity. These leeches are sucking the life out of the global economy, which will soon emit its last desperate gasp.
Honest producers are the real victims in a world that cherishes all manner of purported victimhood. If honest producers do not make a stand, claim their lives, their minds, their efforts, their work, and their right to choose whom they support, the leeches will suck the remaining life out of them. There is no island haven of rationality, justice, and wisdom to which they can repair; resistance or slavery are the options.
Resistance begins with a moral precept, before strategy, tactics, and weapons. My life is mine. Only when you proudly insist on it, recognizing all that precept implies, will you be ready, willing, and able to fight for it with complete moral clarity.
IT’S YOUR LIFE, READ A NOVEL YOU’LL LOVE