PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, May 04, 2007

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Chinchon + The importance of having a job.

Dear Friends,

This Saturday, as you know, we are going on a day trip to Chinchon. The
bus, no 337, leaves at 10.30am from Avd Mediterraneo (Conde Casal Metro)
so I suggest we meet sometime around 10am to make sure we are in the
front of the queue. The bus stop is on the bridge that cross the motor
way, on the left when pointing towards the motorway. If you get lost,
give me a call on 606081813. The bus fare shouldn't be expensive. I
suggest you bring a packed lunch just in case. Return buses are quite
frequent.

On Sunday we are discussing: The importance of having a job; or how
important is it to have a job? The subject is not easy and coming
immediately after May Day might be a bit emotional. But I can assure you
that if you are driving the number 337 bus on Saturday your job would be
extremely important. And that goes to all the waiters in Chinchon as well.

See you soon

Lawrence

**********HOLIDAY FLATS**********
Mayte; Almería (Villa de Níjar);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAY_FLAT_mayte_AlmerAVillaDeNJar

Paloma; Marbella (near Elviria);

http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo/HOLIDAYFLAT_Paloma_MarbellaNearElviria
*************************************


+++++++++MEETING DETAILS+++++++++
SUNDAY 6.00pm START at Molly Malone's Pub, probably downstairs----
-Email: philomadrid@yahoo.co.uk
-Yahoo group >> philomadridgroup-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk <
-Old essays: www.geocities.com/philomadrid
-Group photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/photosphilo
-My tel 606081813
-metro: Bilbao : buses: 21, 149, 147

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

(did not have enough time for a second check, sorry)

(Checked again 30 April 2008)

The importance of having a job.

There are three fundamental principles which must be taken into account
when discussing jobs, work, employment, labour or any other theme
dealing with earning a living. These principles are:

- Division of labour is nature's way of solving a complex problem.

- Human beings are open dynamic systems.

- Resources are scarce and we have to compete for them.

Employment is something that the average adult, and many more children,
have to get involved in for a good part of their lives. Having a job is
so important that governments can easily lose an election if people see
them as having failed in this policy. In fact employment can be found as
a manifesto policy of all serious political parties who expect to be
elected to government. But employment and labour conditions can become
so serious, and affect a large section of the population, that they can
directly lead to revolutions, wars and civil wars. In other words,
employment is so important that no one questions the central role this
plays in politics, economics and social cohesion. Is this assumption
justified? And what exactly do we mean when we say that jobs are important?

But first let me start by explaining the three principles; I have used
these arguments before in many contexts so I will not make a special
effort to refer to sources here. But these arguments are taken from
evolution, systems theory, economic theory and genetic theory*.

Of course, it is not within our scope to question why nature created the
function of division of labour, but it has. For our purpose, the most
important application of division of labour is the creation of the male
and female sex with their individual biological functions. But the
division of labour goes even further with the creation of organs with a
specific function and genes with equally a specialised function. We do
not only find division of labour in biology but also in other aspects of
nature. For example, in chemistry many chemicals are compositions of two
or more elements: water is a composition of hydrogen and oxygen as we
all know from our first science lesson at school. Even the elements are
not immune from this division of labour. In physics, astronomical
systems, such as galaxies, require the (forced) "cooperation" of various
celestial bodies and phenomena. In any case everything is dependent on
the cooperation of atoms, nuclei, electrons, quarks, bosons and the rest
of the quantum universe.

Why should this be relevant for us? Not only is division of labour
relevant, but fundamental to our subject. Division of labour is a
necessary condition for our very existence, as I have shown, let alone
survival. Hence, jobs and employment is none other than nature's
template on how to get things done and operate them. Jobs are functions
within this template; so much we can agree.

An open system requires the input of resources from the environment to
maintain a state of equilibrium (it also requires information but this
is not too relevant here). A human open system, as we know, needs quite
a substantial amount of resources to stay stable. We require food,
shelter, clothing, tools, means of transportation and, of course, means
to fight diseases and health problems. Of course, humans are not the
only open systems, a jet engine is an open system, but we do not need to
get too involved in the physics of open and closed systems (see Systems
Theory on this, not computing systems theory). What is relevant for us
is that we need resources from the environment to survive and to get
those resources we need to go and get them. Even a plant or a tree are
not that immobile; their roots have to "go and get" resources from their
environment. But it is not enough to go and get these resources they
have to be accessible.

This brings us to the third principle, resources are scarce and we have
to compete for them. Theoretically, an open system requires an endless
supply of resources to qualify as an open system, but of course there
are always limits to the amount of resources we have available or access
to. But resources are not only limited because they do not happen to be
in our store room, but because we have to extract them from their
natural form and maybe convert them into usable resources. Even if we
think that not all resources need to go through this conversion phase,
in reality, most do. let us take the case of hunting and gathering,
animals have to be born and mature before they can be eaten even if they
were not cooked over a fire; their fur or feathers have to be removed
from the carcass before these could be used as personal protection wear.
This means, at least, that there is a space-time restriction on how many
resources are freely available at a give moment on the hunting-gathering
model.

In reality, the third principle is divided into two sub-principles. The
other sub-principle is competition. This is a very simple principle but
also very powerful: we have to compete against anyone or anything that
is not our offspring or relative. Of course, the devil is in the detail.
This means that we have to compete against others for a prospective mate
as much as we have to compete against others for the antelope or the berry.

It takes very little imagination to see that these three principles also
operate in the work environment. Jobs are means of accessing scarce
resources and then distributing them amongst the group. The hunters went
out to capture game and then shared it with the rest of their group or
tribe. Maybe even the whole group was involved in the chase, but not
everyone might have had the same role. Some might have scared the game
whilst others might have killed it. However, the word share is probably
somewhat misleading, since share can imply a meaning of equity or
fairness in it. Maybe life was not like that all those years ago. There
might not have been a scrum for the food, but I am sure there was enough
pushing and elbowing involved. We might say that sharing was not
necessarily altruistic sharing, but functional sharing; everyone had to
do it because the alternative might have been worse. At the end of the
day, literally, everyone got to eat something.

How important is it for us to have a job depends on what we are asking.
Do we mean how important is it for us to play our part in the division
of labour scheme of things? Or do we mean how important is it for us to
have a job as a means to access scarce resources? Seeing a job as part
of the division of labour function might give the idea that this is all
done through cooperation, even altruism. Maybe we might imagine some
global programme to extract scarce resources and then share them amongst
everyone else. It is not inconceivable that we think in this way. It
might even be a genetic legacy from the hunting gathering days. Those
who did not share with others were probably ostracised from the group.
Hence sharing became a survival strategy.

But cooperation can be seen as either a voluntary act done with consent
and free will, or cooperation can be the best possible option to adopt
in the circumstances. Hence, we might very well agree to participate in
the division of labour function because we have no choice but to do so.
The alternative might be failure to survive. This is a different way of
saying that sharing becomes a function (rather than an altruistic trait).

We can safely assume that the hunting-gathering model must have served
its purpose up to a point because it gave way to agriculture and
husbandry. The most important aspect of the agriculture model is not
that produce was cultivated in larger quantities than what could be
found in the wild. Nor that harvests could be planned. The importance of
agriculture was that some goods could be easily exchanged because there
was a surplus.

An open system needs a given amount of input to maintain equilibrium,
and anything else is surplus. We might, of course, decide to use up this
surplus and today we call the effect of such consumption obesity when we
take more food than we need. We can also store this surplus and with the
help of technology it can even last for a long time. We can also pass it
on to others so that they can meet their needs. But giving things away
is not that compatible with functional sharing. This, you remember, was
all about adapting to living within a group and not necessarily an
altruistic gesture.

Of course, we all know what happened next: money was invented. money not
only lasted longer than a ton of wheat left idle in a barn, but it could
be exchanged for anything we wanted if others had what we wanted and
they were prepared to exchange it for money. Barter has one problem
which does not arise with money. What we want to exchange might not be
what others want, not to mention that sometimes what we want to offer
might not be suitable to exchange today. For example, I might want to
barter my services harvesting wheat, but wheat won't be fully grown for
another two months. Plainly this is a serious set back to my bartering
capacity.

Money has one advantage which raw resources do not have: money is
mobile. A hundred silver coins are much easier to move around than one
hundred cows. This is quite ironic really. The agricultural model is
credited with creating the stability we needed to develop and build
civilisation, but most of all, the agricultural model meant that we did
not need to roam the countryside any more for food and other
commodities. But the introduction of money has satisfied the primitive
instinct of roaming around looking for better fare. I mean, what's the
difference between roaming around the forest looking for a young deer to
have for dinner, or a fox pelt to wear, and looking for a decent
restaurant in a shopping mall, or looking for a pair of designer jeans?
Never mind money being the catalyst for progress, it is certainly the
sinecure for satisfying the primitive instinct of roaming around. Maybe
going shopping brings out the nomad in us, and with the progress of
Internet technology we can now satisfy this nomadic instinct of hunting
and gathering without even having to leave our living room.

Earlier I suggested that the importance of a job can also be interpreted
as the importance of having a job to access scarce resources. But in the
post agriculture model, having a job can be directly translated into
having money. functional sharing means that we participated in
converting raw resources (for example a cow) into commodities (cheese,
hide, beef) and then obtaining some (a portion) of these commodities.
But now we do not directly share in the commodities we create, but in
the value these commodities represent. If I'm manufacturing fountain
pens (I'm using one to write the draft of this essay) there are so many
pens I can use and need. At some point I might want a sandwich and a cup
of tea, and it is unlikely that the waiter would want to be paid in
fountain pens; the situation would certainly become untenable if I
offered to pay the waiter with a philosophy essay! Money therefore has
become a commodity and like all commodities it is scarce. Don't forget
that commodities can be scarce because there is a space-time limitation
on the availability of a commodity.

I would say that having a job as a function of the division of labour
scheme is quite important. Creating means to survive is quite important,
if survive is what we want. Moreover, doing what we are best at is also
quite important. And irrespective of whether functional sharing is
virtuous at least everyone gets to eat something for supper.

But how much is our labour worth is no different a question from, how
much antelope can we have after the hunting expedition. We know we have
a share of the antelope, the question is how much? However, there is a
big difference between sharing an antelope and sharing money. everyone
can see how much effort each member of the hunt put into the killing of
the beast; but how do we calculate or 'see' the effort we put into an
enterprise with money as the end commodity? For our ancestors the amount
of antelope they had was a straight forward calculation: they hunted,
they killed, and they ate. And if they did not kill something they
didn't have anything to eat. Today the situation is more complex. How do
we value effort today? Do we use the same criteria for everyone
irrespective of what each does? Is negotiating an invest loan with a
bank the same effort as keeping the widget machine well oiled? in
today's world we don't even have the luxury of seeing what others are
doing, they might be working on the sixth floor upstairs, and we might
have no idea what they do, anyway, because their work is so specialised.
Certainly more specialised than throwing a spear at a running target.

Although nature's answer seems to be that having a job is quite
important (and necessary; division of labour) it does not answer the
question, how much resources (money) are we entitled to? How much we are
worth has taxed many philosophers in modern times. A number of
commentators have associated this question with Karl Marx (The Cambridge
Dictionary of Philosophy 2nd Ed). From the evidence we have, we can
safely dismiss interpretations or applications of Marx's philosophy
(Marxism) as still born or stifled at birth; what interest us is Marx's
"Linchpin." Precisely, "....Labor's peculiarity, according to him, lies
in its capacity actively to generate more exchange value than it itself
cost employers as subsistence wages. But to treat human beings as
profit-generating commodities risks neglecting to treat them as human
beings." (CDoP ) In other words, at least Marx thought that we are not
paid as much as we are worth; which is probably what the majority of
employees would say anyway.

Of course, I do not want to explore these treacherous grounds in
philosophy, but it is curious that this philosopher should qualify
injustice on purely utilitarian grounds; we should be paid more. But
wanting to be paid more or to be paid equally does not tell us why we
have this system in the first place and what led to it. We are usually
given the conspiracy theory (exploitation of the capitalist system), but
not the natural theory of the selfish gene. Of course, I am being
totally unfair towards Marx since we have only had the theory of the
selfish gene for just over thirty years.

You will recall that I have identified money as a commodity and that it
is less perishable than raw materials (inflation excepted). What this
means is that money can also be accumulated and if we take a leaf from
nature, money begets money in the same way as a cow begets a cow.
Capitalism is none other than using money to make more money. I would
tend to argue that a good portion of society have got it wrong;
capitalists do not make widgets to become rich by making huge profits on
the operation. Capitalists become super rich by employing large amounts
of money to make equally huge amounts of profits; widgets are
incidental. In other words, whilst most of use see money as a means of
exchange for resources (to buy a kilo of beef), capitalism uses money to
make more money (buying calves and selling cows). But this is not even
an interesting issue, because there is an even more important issue at
stake.

You will remember that anyone or anything that is not an offspring or a
relative is our competitor for scarce resources. And although it might
not do us any good killing a competitor it certainly does no harm if we
can disadvantage them. Of course, this idea is laden with moral
language, but in the world of the gene moral language has no immediate
import. What I am trying to say is that it is a natural instinct to
disadvantage others. Wanting to make people work more and pay them less
is a natural instinct. It is not surprising therefore that exploitation
and slavery have been around for such a long time and will be around for
even more. It probably also explains why it is so difficult for
outsiders to make it to the top in a family firm. Even a public firm is
not that simple, all you have to do is to see which directors are
sitting on which boards, and then you will understand why it is
difficult to get to the top in any organisation.

Clearly to answer Marx's question, the answer is not necessarily to give
more money. It might easily be argued that employers are not so much
exploiting workers, but doing what comes naturally to most people,
competing and disadvantaging others. And treating everyone equally might
be a dies-incentive to take up certain jobs anyway. Especially jobs that
require a higher physical risk than what others are doing. Surely
waiting to see the white of an antelope's eyes, before throwing the
spear, is more dangerous than chasing it with a stick some 200 meters
away. In any event, equality has its own risks of making it easier for a
few members of the group to cheat (see Evolutionary stable strategy and
all communist governments).

Ironically, the capitalist system, which is the most successful economic
and wealth distribution system human beings have developed, is also the
best system to satisfy that primitive urge to compete against and
disadvantage others. Hence, on the present system having a job as a
means to access scarce resources is not that important. Having money is.
And the answer to how much, is not more, but change nature it you can.

Take care

Lawrence

* check these with Wikipedia for example.




CHECKED 30 APRIL 2008

The importance of having a job.

There are three fundamental principles which must be taken into account

when discussing jobs, work, employment, labour or any other theme

dealing with earning a living. These principles are:

- Division of labour is nature's way of solving a complex problem.

- Human beings are open dynamic systems.

- Resources are scarce and we have to compete for them.

Employment is something that the average adult, and many more children,

have to get involved in for a good part of their lives. Having a job is

so important that governments can easily lose an election if people see

them as having failed in this policy. In fact employment can be found as

a manifesto policy of all serious political parties who expect to be

elected to government. But employment and labour conditions can become

so serious, and affect a large section of the population, that they can

directly lead to revolutions, wars and civil wars. In other words,

employment is so important that no one questions the central role this

plays in politics, economics and social cohesion. Is this assumption

justified? And what exactly do we mean when we say that jobs are important?

But first let me start by explaining the three principles; I have used

these arguments before in many contexts so I will not make a special

effort to refer to sources here. But these arguments are taken from

evolution, systems theory, economic theory and genetic theory*.

Of course, it is not within our scope to question why nature created the

function of division of labour, but it has. For our purpose, the most

important application of division of labour is the creation of the male

and female sex with their individual biological functions. But the

division of labour goes even further with the creation of organs with a

specific function and genes with equally a specialised function. We do

not only find division of labour in biology but also in other aspects of

nature. For example, in chemistry many chemicals are compositions of two

or more elements: water is a composition of hydrogen and oxygen as we

all know from our first science lesson at school. Even the elements are

not immune from this division of labour. In physics, astronomical

systems, such as galaxies, require the (forced) "cooperation" of various

celestial bodies and phenomena. In any case everything is dependent on

the cooperation of atoms, nuclei, electrons, quarks, bosons and the rest

of the quantum universe.

Why should this be relevant for us? Not only is division of labour

relevant, but fundamental to our subject. Division of labour is a

necessary condition for our very existence, as I have shown, let alone

survival. Hence, jobs and employment are none other than nature's

template on how to get things done and operate them. Jobs are functions

within this template; so much we can agree.

An open system requires the input of resources from the environment to

maintain a state of equilibrium (it also requires information but this

is not too relevant here). A human open system, as we know, needs quite

a substantial amount of resources to stay stable. We require food,

shelter, clothing, tools, means of transportation and, of course, means

to fight diseases and health problems. Of course, humans are not the

only open systems, a jet engine is an open system, but we do not need to

get too involved in the physics of open and closed systems (see Systems

Theory on this, not computing systems theory). What is relevant for us

is that we need resources from the environment to survive and to get

those resources we need to go and get them. Even a plant or a tree are

not that immobile; their roots have to "go and get" resources from their

environment. But it is not enough to go and get these resources they

have to be accessible.

This brings us to the third principle, resources are scarce and we have

to compete for them. Theoretically, an open system requires an endless

supply of resources to qualify as an open system, but of course there

are always limits to the amount of resources we have available or access

to. But resources are not only limited because they do not happen to be

in our store room, but also because we have to extract them from their

natural form and maybe convert them into usable resources. Even if we

think that not all resources need to go through this conversion phase,

in reality, most do. Let us take the case of hunting and gathering,

animals have to be born and mature before they can be eaten even if they

were not cooked over a fire; their fur or feathers have to be removed

from the carcass before they could be used as personal protection wear.

This means, at least, that there is a space-time restriction on how many

resources are freely available at a give moment on the hunting-gathering

model.

In reality, the third principle is divided into two sub-principles. The

other sub-principle is competition. This is a very simple principle but

also very powerful: we have to compete against anyone or anything that

is not our offspring or relative; sometimes we even do that. Of course, the devil is in the detail.

This means that we have to compete against others for a prospective mate

as much as we have to compete against others for the antelope or the berry.

It takes very little imagination to see that these three principles also

operate in the work environment. Jobs are means of accessing scarce

resources and then distributing them amongst the group. The hunters went

out to capture game and then shared it with the rest of their group or

tribe. Maybe even the whole group was involved in the chase, but not

everyone might have had the same role. Some might have scared the game

whilst others might have killed it. However, the word share is probably

somewhat misleading, since share can imply a meaning of equity or

fairness in it. Maybe life was not like that all those years ago. There

might not have been a scrum for the food, but I am sure there was enough

pushing and elbowing involved. We might say that sharing was not

necessarily altruistic sharing, but functional sharing; everyone had to

do it because the alternative might have been worse. At the end of the

day, literally, everyone got to eat something.

How important is it for us to have a job depends on what we are asking.

Do we mean how important is it for us to play our part in the division

of labour scheme of things? Or do we mean how important is it for us to

have a job as a means to access scarce resources? Seeing a job as part

of the division of labour function might give the idea that this is all

done through cooperation, even altruism. Maybe we might imagine some

global programme to extract scarce resources and then share them amongst

everyone else. It is not inconceivable that we think in this way. It

might even be a genetic legacy from the hunting gathering days. Those

who did not share with others were probably ostracised from the group.

Hence sharing became a survival strategy.

But cooperation can be seen as either a voluntary act done with consent

and free will, or cooperation can be the best possible option to adopt

in the circumstances. Hence, we might very well agree to participate in

the division of labour function because we have no choice but to do so.

The alternative might be failure to survive. This is a different way of

saying that sharing becomes a function (rather than an altruistic trait).

We can safely assume that the hunting-gathering model must have served

its purpose up to a point because it gave way to agriculture and

husbandry. The most important aspect of the agriculture model is not

that produce was cultivated in larger quantities than what could be

found in the wild. Nor that harvests could be planned. The importance of

agriculture was that some goods could be easily exchanged because there

was a surplus.

An open system needs a given amount of input to maintain equilibrium,

and anything else is surplus. We might, of course, decide to use up this

surplus and today we call the effect of such consumption obesity when we

take more food than we need. We can also store this surplus and with the

help of technology it can even last for a long time. We can also pass it

on to others so that they can meet their needs of food input. But giving things away

is not that incompatible with functional sharing. This, you remember, was

all about adapting to living within a group and not necessarily an

altruistic gesture.

Of course, we all know what happened next: money was invented. Money not

only lasted longer than a ton of wheat left idle in a barn, but it could

be exchanged for anything we wanted if others had what we wanted and

they were prepared to exchange it for money. Barter has one problem

which does not arise with money. What we want to exchange might not be

what others want, not to mention that sometimes what we want to offer

might not be suitable to exchange today. For example, I might want to

barter my services harvesting wheat, but wheat won't be fully grown for

another two months. Plainly this is a serious set back to my bartering

capacity.

Money has one advantage which raw resources do not have: money is

mobile. A hundred silver coins are much easier to move around than one

hundred cows. This is quite ironic really. The agricultural model is

credited with creating the stability we needed to develop and build

civilisation, but most of all, the agricultural model meant that we did

not need to roam the countryside any more for food and other

commodities. But the introduction of money has satisfied the primitive

instinct of roaming around looking for better fare. I mean, what's the

difference between roaming around the forest looking for a young deer to

have for dinner, or a fox pelt to wear, and looking for a decent

restaurant in a shopping mall, or looking for a pair of designer jeans?

Never mind money being the catalyst for progress, it is certainly the

sinecure for satisfying the primitive instinct of roaming around. Maybe

going shopping brings out the nomad in us, and with the progress of

Internet technology we can now satisfy this nomadic instinct of hunting

and gathering without even having to leave our living room.

Earlier I suggested that the importance of a job can also be interpreted

as the importance of having a job to access scarce resources. But in the

post agriculture model, having a job can be directly translated into

having money. functional sharing means that we participated in

converting raw resources (for example a cow) into commodities (cheese,

hide, beef) and then obtaining some (a portion) of these commodities.

But now we do not directly share in the commodities we create, but in

the value these commodities represent. If I'm manufacturing fountain

pens (I'm using one to write the draft of this essay) there are so many

pens I can use and need. At some point I might want a sandwich and a cup

of tea, and it is unlikely that the waiter would want to be paid in

fountain pens; the situation would certainly become untenable if I

offered to pay the waiter with a philosophy essay! Money therefore has

become a commodity and like all commodities it is scarce. Don't forget

that commodities can be scarce because there is a space-time limitation

on the availability of a commodity.

I would say that having a job as a function of the division of labour

scheme is quite important. Creating means to survive is quite important,

if survive is what we want. Moreover, doing what we are best at is also

quite important. And irrespective of whether functional sharing is

virtuous at least everyone gets to eat something for supper.

But how much is our labour worth is no different a question from, how

much antelope can we have after the hunting expedition? We know we have

a share of the antelope, the question is how much? However, there is a

big difference between sharing an antelope and sharing money. everyone

can see how much effort each member of the hunt put into the killing of

the beast; but how do we calculate or 'see' the effort we put into an

enterprise with money as the end commodity? For our ancestors the amount

of antelope they had was a straight forward calculation: they hunted,

they killed, and they ate. And if they did not kill something they

didn't have anything to eat. Today the situation is more complex. How do

we value effort today? Do we use the same criteria for everyone

irrespective of what each does? Is negotiating an investment loan with a

bank the same effort as keeping the widget machine well oiled? In

today's world we don't even have the luxury of seeing what others are

doing, they might be working on the sixth floor upstairs, and we might

have no idea what they do, anyway, because their work is so specialised.

Certainly more specialised than throwing a spear at a running target.

Although nature's answer seems to be that having a job is quite

important (and necessary; division of labour) it does not answer the

question, how much resources (money) are we entitled to? How much we are

worth has occupied many philosophers and economists in modern times. A number of

commentators have associated this question with Karl Marx (The Cambridge

Dictionary of Philosophy 2nd Ed). From the evidence we have, we can

safely dismiss interpretations or applications of Marx's philosophy

(Marxism) as still born or stifled at birth; what interest us is Marx's

"Linchpin." Precisely, "....Labor's peculiarity, according to him, lies

in its capacity actively to generate more exchange value than it itself

cost employers as subsistence wages. But to treat human beings as

profit-generating commodities risks neglecting to treat them as human

beings." (CDoP ) In other words, at least Marx thought that we are not

paid as much as we are worth; which is probably what the majority of

employees would say anyway.

Of course, I do not want to explore these treacherous grounds in

philosophy, but it is curious that this philosopher should qualify

injustice on purely utilitarian grounds; we should be paid more. But

wanting to be paid more or to be paid equally does not tell us why we

have this system in the first place and what led to it. We are usually

given the conspiracy theory (exploitation of the capitalist system), but

not the natural theory of the selfish gene. Of course, I am being

totally unfair towards Marx since we have only had the theory of the

selfish gene for just over thirty years.

You will recall that I have identified money as a commodity and that it

is less perishable than raw materials (inflation excepted). What this

means is that money can also be accumulated and if we take a leaf from

nature, money begets money in the same way as a cow begets a cow.

Capitalism is none other than using money to make more money. I would

tend to argue that a good portion of society have got it wrong;

capitalists do not make widgets to become rich by making huge profits on

the operation. Capitalists become super rich by employing large amounts

of money to make equally huge amounts of profits; widgets are

incidental. In other words, whilst most of use see money as a means of

exchange for resources (to buy a kilo of beef), capitalism uses money to

make more money (buying calves and selling cows). But this is not even

an interesting issue, because there is an even more important issue at

stake.

You will remember that anyone or anything that is not an offspring or a

relative is our competitor for scarce resources. And although it might

not do us any good killing a competitor it certainly does no harm if we

can disadvantage them. Of course, this idea is laden with moral

language, but in the world of the gene moral language has no immediate

import. What I am trying to say is that it is a natural instinct to

disadvantage others. Wanting to make people work more and pay them less

is a natural instinct. It is not surprising therefore that exploitation

and slavery have been around for such a long time and will be around for

even more. It probably also explains why it is so difficult for

outsiders to make it to the top in a family firm. Even a public firm is

not that simple, all you have to do is to see which directors are

sitting on which boards, and then you will understand why it is

difficult to get to the top in any organisation; irrespective of whether you are a woman or man.

Clearly to answer Marx's question, the answer is not necessarily to give

more money. It might easily be argued that employers are not so much

exploiting workers, but doing what comes naturally to most people,

competing and disadvantaging others. And treating everyone equally might

be a disincentive to take up certain jobs anyway. Especially jobs that

require a higher physical risk than what others are doing. Surely

waiting to see the white of an antelope's eyes, before throwing the

spear, is more dangerous than chasing it with a stick some 200 meters

away. In any event, equality has its own risks of making it easier for a

few members of the group to cheat (see Evolutionary stable strategy and

all communist governments).

Ironically, the capitalist system, which is the most successful economic

and wealth distribution system human beings have developed, is also the

best system to satisfy that primitive urge to compete against and

disadvantage others. Hence, on the present system having a job as a

means to access scarce resources is not that important. Having money is.

And the answer to how much, is not more, but change nature itself if we can.

Take care

Lawrence

* check these with Wikipedia for example.


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