Monday, August 01, 2022

Homo economicus

The term homo economicus is the assertion by some that the purpose of man is to engage in commerce, the buying and selling of stuff. What a despicable assertion that is, for it views human beings in far too narrow a light. The idea of course is that if you have enough money, you get what you want because other folks are so hungry for money they will give you whatever you want if you offer enough of it. Would that we were more like the Dutch. To be average is good enough. To fit in to your community as a member in full, without having to buy your way in is cause for celebration at all levels.

Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in the world, decided to build a half billion dollar yacht for himself (without actually lifting a finger, of course), and the company building the yacht did so in a ship yard from which one cannot reach the sea in such a tall ship without dismantling a hundred plus year old bridge. The Dutch people said no. And I love that the richest man in the world can't just buy whatever he wants. The article describing this turn of events is in the New York Times. And I'm cheering for the Dutch. The photo from the New York Times shows the bridge that stands between Bezos' big toy boat and the sea.

In the mid 1800's, a man by the name of John Adolphus Etzler wrote a utopian book about technology and the power of the earth in the form of sun, winds and tide, The Paradise within the Reach of all Men, without Labor, by Powers of Nature and Machinery: An Address to all intelligent men, in two parts (1833). Emerson gave a copy of the book to Thoreau asking him to read it and comment upon it, which he did in a text called, "Paradise (To Be) Regained."  

It is worth reading and noting that the power to do all things may be best reserved for this who may have evolved beyond the condition of the common man, beyond greed, beyond avarice, and beyond self-importance, and in this case, I'm not talking about the founder of Amazon, but rather those danged Dutch who value something more than the big bucks. In Thoreau's text he concludes by making reference to love. I'll not quote but urge you to read it on your own. You'll find direct similarities between Etzler's proposals and those who now seek to accomplish the same thing, realizing the power of the earth to keep them from ever having to lift fingers, and failing to realize that it's through lifting fingers and doing real work that our character and intelligence are formed, and perhaps also lifting fingers is how we discover love.

Make, fix and create...

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