Website owner: James Miller
There are a number of facts of life that govern much in this world. One of the things that seem to underlie much of the difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives seem to have a firm grasp on these basic facts of life and the liberals just don't seem to. The liberals seem possessed of a certain idealistic naivete, a certain mental shortness, in this area. Maybe they have just spent too much time reading romantic literature and gotten their minds muddled (like Don Quixote). Anyway, we will illustrate some of these basic facts of life with a few examples: India has a problem with teachers in their public schools not showing up in the classrooms a large part of the time. The students show up but no teacher appears. On any given day across India about a quarter of the teachers fail to turn up for their jobs (according to a study sponsored by the British government). A teacher may show up in his classroom only two or three days a week and then stay there for only a couple of hours and then leave, making a kind of token appearance. Mexico has the same problem. Probably many third world countries have the problem. How can this be? That is simple. The teachers have learned they can get away with it and so they do it. They know the limits to which they can go and they go as far as they can. The problem is supervision. No supervision. The government pays them and trusts them. It is an example of an inefficient, half-working government program. There is a proverb from Ben Franklin's almanac, "Not to oversee workmen is to leave them your purse open". To devise programs that really work as intended one must keep in mind certain basic facts of life. One of those facts is that in every society, every culture, every age, a large portion of humanity, given the opportunity, will lie, cheat and steal. If no one is watching they will test the limits and go as far as they can. One is a fool who just trusts people, puts them on an honor system. Let us look at another example. Why does capitalism work so much better than socialism? Private enterprise works. Socialism doesn't. Why? To understand why one must understand certain basic facts of life in regard to human nature. One must understand how people think and what motivates them. At bottom it is all about incentive. A man who owns his own business has an incentive to make the business work. If it works he can get rich. If it doesn't he can end up in the streets. So there is a real incentive for him to make it work. If he has people working for him there is an incentive for him to watch them carefully and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. If they are not doing their job he loses. He has to be practical and pragmatic. If one thing doesn't work he has to try another. He can't afford the luxury of idealistic, impractical ideas that don't work. He has a strong incentive to find ways to cut out waste and increase efficiency. Efficiency is money in his pocket and may mean the difference between being able to compete in the marketplace and not being able to compete. He has an incentive to be inventive and think of better ways of doing a thing. It is all about money and that motivates him. He will put in an 18 hour day and work really hard to make it all work. He is motivated. Now compare this man with some government worker under a socialistic type system. What are his incentives to work really hard? He will get his salary whether he works hard or not. What incentive is there for him to make the operation more efficient? Why should he care? What incentive does he have to be creative and inventive and improve the operation? He is working for some boss that he may not like in a system that just doesn't work very well. It is all like a man who has a small plot on which he raises vegetables that he sells in the city market. It is his lot and his business and he works hard to raise the best possible vegetables. There is an incentive for him to do well and make it work. Compare him with a worker on a collective farm raising vegetables for the government. What is his incentive for working hard? It is a basic fact of life: People will work really hard for their own gain but won't work any harder than they have to for someone else's gain. Private ownership inspires people to work. If a man owns his own house he will work hard to maintain it and improve it. He takes pride in it. But if he is living in someone else's house he doesn't care a whit about it. And so an economy based on private ownership and private enterprise just functions far more efficiently than one based on socialistic ideals. Another example. Let us go to another question: Why is it that government programs are so often inefficient, ill- conceived, don't work as they are supposed to, don't give much for the money spent on them? The reasons are various. One is lack of penalty to those responsible for them when they don't work. There isn't that strong incentive to make them work that there is with the owner of a business to make the business work. Another reason has to do with another fact of life: No man takes the same care with other people's money that he does with his own money. If a man is spending his own money he is concerned with how much he gets for his money; if he is spending another person's money he doesn't worry much about it. And remember that legislators, elected officials and bureaucrats are all spending other people's money (your money), not their own. It is easy for them to come up with lots of great sounding, idealistic ideas (that don't work) for spending other people's money. They just implement the ideas in the form of programs and take more money out of your paycheck in the form of taxes to pay for them. If the programs give little for the money spent it is not their money that was wasted, just yours. They can come up with wonderful sounding, simplistic, politically motivated programs (that don't work) for difficult, intractable problems and the only loser is the taxpayer. An example is the welfare system. Anyone with sense knows that when you start giving away free room and board to people there will be all kinds of people getting in line for it, all kinds figuring and scheming on how to get it. That just comes down to a couple more facts of life: 1. When you offer free things everyone will get in line, and 2. No one really likes to work and everyone would love to be relieved of the burden. It is all just human nature. People very quickly accept free room and board, acclimate very easily to a parasitic existence, even come to believe they are entitled to it all, and leave it only when forced from it. One of the most basic facts of life is the following: People act in their own self-interest and the only person you can trust to act in your interest is you. You must tend to your own business, look out after your own interests in life. It is a foolish and naive person who places his interests in another's care. It suggests a couple more of Ben Franklin's proverbs: "If you would have a faithful servant and one that you like --- serve yourself" and "If you would have your business done, go; if not, send". That is just the way this world works. Everyone looks to his own interests. Everyone takes care of himself and those who are important to him. The legislator who is busy spending your money has his own interests to tend to: he wants to retain his job, he wants votes, and all these new programs he is so busy creating may bring him votes. Certain segments of our population will vote for anyone offering free handouts. July 2004 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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America has lost her way
The really big sins
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You are what you eat
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These things go together
We are what we eat --- living under the discipline of a diet
Avoiding problems and trouble in life
Role of habit in formation of character
The True Christian
What is true Christianity?
Personal attributes of the true Christian
What determines a person's character?
Love of God and love of virtue are closely united
Walking a solitary road
Intellectual disparities among people and the power in good habits
Tools of Satan. Tactics and Tricks used by the Devil.
On responding to wrongs
Real Christian Faith
The Natural Way -- The Unnatural Way
Wisdom, Reason and Virtue are closely related
Knowledge is one thing, wisdom is another
My views on Christianity in America
The most important thing in life is understanding
Sizing up people
We are all examples --- for good or for bad
Television --- spiritual poison
The Prime Mover that decides "What We Are"
Where do our outlooks, attitudes and values come from?
Sin is serious business. The punishment for it is real. Hell is real.
Self-imposed discipline and regimentation
Achieving happiness in life --- a matter of the right strategies
Self-control, self-restraint, self-discipline basic to so much in life
We are our habits
What creates moral character?