Antiques Roadshow

Antiques Roadshow

I found yet another fine intellectually serious website, one of ideas and thought provoking articles:

There have never been more of them in my years on the internet as there are this day. And they keep blossoming like flowers in a summer’s rain. Like blogs, too, which pop up like mushrooms, every day, almost all against big government. On the other side, the socialist side, and let’s call it what it is, are the same stale bastions of lack of thought peddling their poppycock of “I’m right, hand over your money.” . Or rather, thought that it as old as the hills.

Indeed, it’s like an antiques roadshow of old ideas out there in the president’s teleprompter, the leftist screeds, the mainstream media, and academia. The Antiques Roadshow is that wonderful show that has people parading goods in front of expert and camera, so that the odd item, bought at a yard sale for $20 bucks might be seen as the missing Corinthian Vase worth $100,000. Yeehaw! Profit! Man, profit of the gazillions of percent. Do we begrudge the finder his find? No, we salute it. We wish it were but us, at most. A momentary pang of jealousy, before it swings around to congratulations for having taken the risk, and reaping the rewards, and then perhaps, inspiration to look more carefully at this hideous pale green stone vase with the squiggly lines on the bottom.

How old are these ideas? Well, Obama is on the road again, somewhere, talking up his health care taxation and control bill. He’s saying the same things, going on 14 or 15 months now, daily. It is tiresome. “We have to pass this bill, whichever it is, and whatever it contains” – for they are still not settled on it – or they would have held the votes already in the House and Senate. Instead what were all those deadlines that passed before unmet and was next slated to be March 18th, which is what I read somewhere, and now is supposedly March 26th, just before they hop off to Easter. But this is bunny-headed. Obama’s whole plan is unraveling, like a bedraggled plush toy on the front of an 18 wheeler come out of the sand storm.

Today it was some guy named Massa (or as Harry Reid would say, Negro dialect, for master. But that’s gone with the wind, right?) from up in New York State is being shoved out of Congress far faster than any mere corrupt Democrat – and that’s because, Mr. Massa said this weekend, he voted no, against the health care bill. And if he’s tossed aside like old lettuce, then that means Pelosi needs one less vote. Still, she doesn’t have it, or the damn thing would be put to the test and either We the People or it and they would be put out of misery. Instead the patient lingers on, slowly dying.

So I did a sort of unthinkable thing – I emailed this Massa, telling him that if what he says is true, then he owes it to this nation, to his own constituents, who are no doubt opposed to Obama’s plan(S) just as surely as the rest of the country is, and to himself, not resign as said, and stay and vote NO! Now, it seems he wants a more-government plan than Obama does – which is still no good. But then, when both your “supporters” and your “opponents” are against you it’s sort of like the roadshow of antiquity encapsulated in the phrase “Et tu, Brutus? Et tu?” Which is what the knifewielder in the forum heard moments after the blade was sunk into Julius Caesar. At least Julius is remembered two thousand years later, and has a month named after him. But Obama shall not be so lucky.

Meanwhile, I read of exchanges between George Will, a conservative commentator, and both Robert Reich and Paul Krugman. They are in the elite stormtroopers of poppycock pushers. Reich is against profit, and Krugman thinks the central planning strong arm system of China is a better model of civic organization. So much for these two communists. But, they both argued against profits on the Sunday morning news shows. Profits were too high, or rising, or falling, or something, but they were still there, and by their mind it was not to be tolerated in health care. Nor much other care, eventually; not food care, or car care, or house care. None of the cares in the world should have profit, according to the socialists – except of course a fair profit of say, five or 10 percent in the government five year plan.

This loathing of profits, and some perceived line of fairness which divides fair and unfair profits, is ancient. It climbed up the steps of Babel, to tower top, and shouted, and the echo has been heard ever since. From the Assyrians to Moab, the dynasties of 3,000 years ago on either side of the Great Wall, and all around every civilization of antiquity there are reports aplenty about how the Emperor would set the fair profit, and woe betide those who earned more by any means.

Then, during Roman times, and in Carthage, and Jerusalem, and out to China again, and back again to the Rig Vedas of India, and round the world, wherever some Emperor left a rule or law, there it was – the prohibition of earning more than some small profit – or else. We unto thee, efficient man with good product and service, that you earn a profit! It is evil. Ye shall not.

And it was there in Early Christian Times, and in Mayan gliffs and Aztec statute books, and up through the Dark Ages, and out along the Silk Road to Samarkand, there it was, the roadshow of anti-profit as decreed by the Emperor, and thus, often, usually, by God. Indeed, the Bible talks of fair profit and usury. As does the Koran. As did all religioust texts for a long while. There the Medieval Popes were against it, and the numbers of laws against more than a fair profit were as numerous as the duchies and gated cities in which they were written. Charles the Fat and Philip the Bold, and Philip the Fair, all of France, each had their anti-profit statutes, as did all the Eddies and Henries and Georgies of England. The Ottos, Rudolphs, Conrads and Josefs of the Germanic principalities were also fond of such statutes. All were emboldened by the Popes and presumably God himself. Out in Russia the Ivans and Peters went to town on this idea of Antiquity, brought to them by the Byzantines and the Greek Church, and the Greeks are still against profit, to the point of riot in the streets just the other day. All through the east, and south, and every where on earth, the rulers decreed profits were bad.

Or actually not. What they all said is that while the merchant of whatever may be entitled to a five or six percent margin, you know, for his efforts, he had to give all the remaining profit to the emperor as taxes, fees, and perhaps a bribe or two to make sure he was allowed to make the prescribed profit, or even live to tell about it.

Throughout all this time, innovation and efficiency gains, those things most promixate in upping profit, were, shall we say, limited. Moribund even. Why? There were pointers in the right direction. But, profits were limited, and if a man might try to get ahead, well, then guilt and scorn were heaped upon him, and exta taxes, outright seizures of property and a general disdain. Some times stones were heaped, or violently thrown: “Look, he’s a profiteer,” might be muttered. The emperor or king was only too happy to take the wrongful-profit, and let the trader or manufacturer keep the fair-profit. What do you think paid for all those palaces and castles, monuments and statues? How do you think royality, and it was all royalty, kept themselves living so well? They did take the profits of individuals for the good of society. Along every road of antiquity it was the same show.

Now, then, starting with the Great Questioning of the Church which was the Rennaissance, and which expanded into the Reformation and Protestantism, well, then profits were looked upon more kindly by many. And those princes which encouraged, or at least did not hinder, profit making saw a great rise in wealth. For everyone, including themselves and the profit makes. It was wondrous, and inexplicable. And over the three or four centuries of this time, leading to our own, the anti-profit countries stayed poor and backwards, while the pro-profit countries got rich and had the latest doo-dads. Oh sure, many a new prince, unhappy with his antique palace, did go after profits once more. But something was noticed. Or rather several things. But it wasn’t until 1776 that profit making was given the defense it deserved, at the hand of Adam Smith, in the Wealth of Nations.

But, during this heady time of growing profits, and incredible innovations, with no one caring what profits were made, there was more wealth to tax, at lower levels, which returned more revenues, and unexpected wonders abounded. The prince was richer and more powerful, and this was good to the prince. Though he still didn’t get it, so he kept up a low level anti-profit mumbling, just in case he needed some old excuse to knock down profits.

Then in 1848 came the Anti-profit cause with a new champion, and new and improved words for the Ancient Anti-Profit belief. This was Marx, and his Marxism. He recycled the big government anti-profit attitudes of antiquity, and to him, even the not so recent past, and lo, profits were to be confiscated once again for the good of the people. Only instead of to the king they were to go the elite of the people, who rules like kings but didn’t use the word king so were different. “These profits are unfair” Marx said in a hush as he scoured the British Library looking for the oldest books he might find to back up his anti-profit stance. This attitude spread again, for the words were like balm, smooth and sweet, and so illogical that anyone should be able to see this right off. But such is the power of flim-flammery. Marx would have been a billionaire on Madison Avenue’s advertising district. Even in the very recently pro-profit countries anti-profit rose up again. For the priesthood was renewed, and they said they talked to God, now rechristened Scientific Socialism. The science was deemed to be settled, so said Marx. Thus stagnation set in once again, and tyranny, which is required to keep profit making limited, did rise up again.

Yes, tyranny, big government, socialism, the nanny state, the progressive state, communism, communitarianism, do goodism – call it what you want – it must come along to keep profits down or confiscated. For humankind does have this most amazing propensity to seek to earn the most profit as can be garnered. That this is so is witnessed best by the 5,000 year tradition of trying to either limit profit, or take it for the king and state, lest the maker enjoy his makings. For to enjoy, other than by the elites, was evil itself. Enjoyment, the benefit of profits, is considered evil, or at best, dangerous, by all the anti-profit people. Except for the elites, they just luxuriate in profits, pun intended. But the rest of society? Thou shall suffer for the public good. Lest you be haughty and profit.

Now, isn’t it odd, that the vastness of mankind seeks profit and the tiny portion of self-selected elites deems it bad, so hand it over? Such calculated theft, with benefit of clergy, is to be marvelled at. Then scoffed at. Then put into the box from which it came so that the vast citizenry might get on with their work. The elites are free to write their screeds, but please, just shut up and get out the way.

But let’s look at just one odd profit situation, one that might clear the air on the stupidity, the venality, of the profit-limiteers:

Say there are two companies, similar enough in what they make, and where they make it. Say company A & B both start off with 10 workers, and make 100 things a day, and use the same materials, and they churn out their goods and they both earn, say, a fair profit of 5%. This is often the ballyhooed fair profit. Why this and no six, or even seven, one for each day, I do not know. From where this number equated as fair comes from I dont know. OK, then one day, the man who owns company A wakes up and says Eureka! I can save money in operations, and staff, and materials, and I can turn out something just as good or better at the rate of 120 a day, as company B – and I can still charge the same price! No, I’ll charge a little less, and still make more! Now, suppose, company A’s costs go down 20%. It’s profit must go up the same amount, roughly. Even if he puts a price cut, he might still eke out 20% by dint of volume. Now, though he is – evil, for he is profiting 25%!

How Dastardly! How unpatriotic or something. How against the people – for they could get the product cheeper – but, no, they can’t, and don’t expect to, for they give not a whit about the means and methods of the manufacturer, but only like the good quality, and perhaps, the slightly lower price. What difference does it make to the buyer where his 100 Bucks goes? So what that $25 is profit, and $75 is operations? Just as he doesn’t care that company B’s product, just as fine, is also $100, and yet the owner of that company expends $95 on means and methods, and thus earns only $5. It makes not a difference. In fact, throughout time, no one paid a whit of attention to the profit margins of any business. In fact, the constant bargaining in the markets of the world is the very example of people trying to find a “fair” price – fair to the two who make the deal – and thus a fair profit. But no one ever asked, “so what did you pay wholesale?” No, that’s no part of the market way.

But now, this Twenty-five-percenter is evil, and he must be stripped of his wealth, his extra 20% profit, for it is beyond fair, say the profit-limiteers of their day. And of our day.

For Reich and Krugman, and Obama, do harp on profits of health care companies of all kinds. Who cares? Why should I care? If an entire industry puts out a similar product, and the profits or the percieved value in any way, is too high, then sales will respond accordingly. And profits will thus be limited. Then if the price and quality, and need-factors are all met, and the price seems reasonable, then lo, the fair profit is set. And if the price of one company’s thing is lower, by a penny even, then he will rack up the sales versus his more expensive rival, thus profit more. Who ever cared? Well, only the elite profit-limiteers do. Still, with the volume he will perhaps make more profit, and so what?

This is just one of the parts of the health care debate that is so irrelevant, and yet so at the forefront, for the profit-limiteers have set the debate. They are against private profit. But fear not, dear citizens, for the government is all for government profit. They will gain the monopoly, as governments throughout time have always sought. Then they will lower the quality. They will increase the cost of means and methods according to favors and not reason. And they will enforce the purchase of their products by the exclusion of all others. But they will not lower the price – and indeed might raise it.

Need I say Public School Districts? Poor quality, over staffed, poor service, lousy product = government monopoly. DMV? Post Office? Amtrak? FEMA, Fannie, Freddie, ooh, let’s just say AAA to ZZZ or whichever agenices fall inbetween and supposedly deliver a service.

And this is what we are being told is what we need for health care. Less of it for more money. What a bargain! Such salesmen then are! They got 25% of the people to agree so far.

Welcome to the antiques roadshow of 5,000 year old ideas set in the stones of Babylon, where Hammurabi started to codify the anti-profit ideas based on his needs for a summer palace and a few years more of enjoyment of the good life with the concubines. I can picture him saying, while reclined, and someone peels him a grape “And do you know the cost of enuchs today? Geez, I need more money, and just enough gold to pay the guards and his priests so they might validate my rule. What do toadie and yesmen and henchmen cost?! You don’t want to know the price. In fact, if you got to ask you can’t afford. Bring me the tax collectors!” This is the promise of progressive thinking – antiquity.

And Liberty, the newest kid on the block, born some 235 years ago, and limited government and the love of profit and go for it, did create the richest, most powerful, most innovative and forward looking society on earth. And here come the antiquarians to despoil our paradise. We would have met them at the gates – but alas, free people don’t need gates, so we neglect to build them. Rather it was the rapacious profit-limiteers, and profit-thieves of old who needed gate and moat, rampart and tower, to defend agaist the constantly revolting peasantry.

Fortunately for the profit-limiteers of our time we have the ballot box and ideas with which to do battle, and they will be allowed to surrender, and return to their ivory towers, so long as they preach no more the ancient call of antique roadshows: Give me your profits, or else!


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