Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wealth Truly is the Solution

I had a thought-provoking conversation this past weekend with an aquaintance who consults for a medical device company. He was embarrassed to discuss the device, and ashamed of its primarily cosmetic use. The device uses radio wave energy to stimulate collagen growth in the tissue between the vagina and rectum--firming things up, so to speak. It's current market is in the U.S. as a cosmetic device. But it turns out this same technology can be used to halt excessive uterine bleeding and allows the procedure to be performed without need of sedation or the usual operating room requirements for sterility-- creating huge cost savings! This means that potentially life-saving therapy will be affordable for a greater number of individuals, and in particular, will be much easier to implement in poor and developing countries.

What my acquaintance failed to connect is that most, if not all, new technologies are expensive at first--which means the clientele will be rich, and the initial application may seem frivioulous or superfluous. One hundred years ago, cars were a luxury that only the rich could afford. They weren't even reliable enough to serve for useful transportation. Thirty years ago, pocket calculators could only add, subtract, multiply and divide, and cost over $100 dollars. It too was considered a rich man's toy. Twenty years ago, only doctors and a select few others, sported pagers on their belts. A bit later "mobile phones" appeared, a luxury solely for the rich and powerful elite. Now, cars are ubiquitous. Pocket calculators perform numerous mathematical functions and cost under $5. Cell phones have made connection to the wider world available to African businesses in places that landlines will not be economically feasible for decades, if ever.

By letting the market satisfy the seemingly frivolous and unnecessary desires of the rich, we all end up better off. The rich are the ones with the wealth to spare--so let them purchase the new, expensive "luxuries" and pay the way for our increasing standard of living! Eventually, increased demand and free market competition will bring down cost and increase availability. There's nothing shameful about that.

For all of us to gain, the rich too must be free: free to use their wealth to pursue their happiness.
Attempts at enforced equality will stifle innovation, keep costs high, and in the long run we all are impoverished.

As long as poverty is the problem, wealth will be the solution. Wealth--and the freedom to use it.


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8 comments:

Chip Wright said...

Great Blog!

why is it so hard to get people to understand that freedom is the solution, not the problem? One would think that it would be self-evident, and if it were not, that out of self interest, most would desire to try to prove it to be so... Instead, I find that almost everyone I know will go to great lengths to attempt to prove that freedom must be curtailed. Their arguments never make sense when dissected, and you show this to them, and then they just accuse you of being an idealist...

Chalk it up to a lifetime of Marxist brainwashing by the school system and the media...

Anyways, keep up the good work, I will check back often.

Beth said...

Thank you for stopping by and for your comment.

I don't think there is a simple answer as to why people advocate government coercion over freedom. Some of it is the failure to understand just what constitutes individual rights. Some of it is a misplaced valuing of democracy and majority rule--part of which arises from skepticism toward the idea of objective knowledge in general and in the realm of ethics in particular. Some conflate freedom and license. I guess it would be important to ask whomever you happen to be discussing it with just what their thinking is.

Thanks again. I am glad you found something of value here.

Chip Wright said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip Wright said...

i really think it goes back to the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institute. i believe that both organizations set out to change our society from one based on the pioneer spirit and individual freedom and responsibility to one based on the Marxist philosophy of economic equality and relative morality. i believe that both organizations heavily influenced public education, foreign and domestic policy, and the direction of the schools of economics, philosophy, law, public policy, political science, etc.

one might ask why they would do this, given that their wealth was amassed thanks to capitalism and free markets. and the answer is easy. to protect their empires from competition and to leverage that wealth into power. if they can convince people that the market needs regulation to make things "fair" then that makes it that much harder for anyone to compete against them.

the very regulation that people believe is necessary to make things fair is the substance of the chains that will make them slaves.

p.s. removed comment and reposted it to correct misspelling.

garret seinen said...

Good one Beth, To be first should cost more.
Interesting take by Chip as well, shows why the little people need to fight for capitalism - it's their means to survival. The rich don't really care how they got there as long as they can stay there.

Beth said...

Garret,

I agree that the less well-off need capitalism as much if not more than the "rich"---but I am not willing to say that all (or even most) the well-off, or even the very well-off, "don't really care how they got there as long as they can stay there." Only the political entrepreneurs deserve castigation.

garret seinen said...

Of course. I apologize for being unclear. My Thoughts were about the people using political force to deny others the opportunity to compete by closing off a field of endeavor. Like in everything else, while the heroes may be obscured by villains, there is no excuse for forgetting that the heroes make our world available.

Beth said...

Garret,

I assumed you knew that....i just didn't want that statement to go unclarified.