“Millionaires are the product of natural selection, acting on the whole body of men to pick out those who can meet the requirement of certain work to be done. It is because they are thus selected that wealth aggregates under their hands — both their own and that intrusted to them. They may fairly be regarded as the naturally selected agents of society.” — William Graham Sumner
The Tortoise still frets about the notion of social Darwinism. After all, a Chelonian who takes advantage of his natural camouflage and finds ways to hide from danger which she senses through vibration may well live to be 100. That’s productive and makes for more tortoises. However, the great tortoises are endangered. More and more, these animals which are fit to survive in their natural habitat are not so fit in man’s habitat. A trip to the sunny meadow, if it involves crossing a highway or street, can mean certain squashing death by automobile tire.
In terms of laissez faire my grandfather did a fine job of founding a company in 1929, a company that survives today into a fifth generation. Grandfather really never saw the day when the company finally succeeded, but his descendants have. So I guess Grandfather and his progeny have been economically fit. The small company has survived by cautious expansion and product development as the need arose to survive obsolescence. I do not believe the company has ever been cutthroat or greedy and yet it has survived where competitors have gone extinct. True, technology has dramatically reduced the number employed, but the company goes on — providing college and opportunity for others.
I also believe that like tortoise survival, there’s also a lot of plain old luck involved when no powerful competitor comes along to squash the company dead in the road — that and the fact that the company has always, like a good tortoise, maintained its “hide” and stuck to the basics. Where it was intended to survive on herbs, it has never developed a taste for meat.
So when I think of free enterprise, capitalism and the American way this is the industry I think of. I do not believe that my grandfather or his descendants were more fit to live than any other person born of woman. Nor do I think their calling in life was particularly more worthy than teaching, social working, policing, fire fighting or writing poetry — unless, of course, worth is solely a matter of material success.
I know that the name of Robert Reich , means ultra-liberal to many, especially since he comes from UC-Berkeley. And yet, the link attached needs to be consulted. In short I might be persuaded that millionaires are the “the naturally selected agents of society,” and as such even the vaunted Job Creators who are selected “for certain work” to be done.”
But why then is the Tortoise still worried that without a decent social safety net in the public interest, good old capitalism will run amuck again as it just did in the last twenty years. And the lower species will wind up with another bail out — AGAIN. Tortoise fears the human species will sink into its same old habits and make more tortoise soup from an endangered species, i.e. the middle class taxpayer. Once more, they might forget the wealth entrusted to them.
I believe that Warren Buffett creates new jobs, because I have seen evidence. If I could really see more of it, and hear fewer excuses like overmuch regulation and taxes, I might believe again. Maybe I need to visit China to see those jobs. The Tortoise wants value-added capitalism that creates good jobs at home, not just another low-paying service wage. Right now Tortoise knows that she and the millionaires don’t share the same habitat. She wonders if they even value hers.
Steadfast and cautious,