NPR has a fascinating report on China which involves collectivism and the virtue of the profit-motive. From the report:
In 1978, the farmers in a small Chinese village called Xiaogang gathered in a mud hut to sign a secret contract. They thought it might get them executed. Instead, it wound up transforming China’s economy in ways that are still reverberating today.
The contract was so risky — and such a big deal — because it was created at the height of communism in China. Everyone worked on the village’s collective farm; there was no personal property.
“Back then, even one straw belonged to the group,” says Yen Jingchang, who was a farmer in Xiaogang in 1978. “No one owned anything.”
At one meeting with communist party officials, a farmer asked: “What about the teeth in my head? Do I own those?” Answer: No. Your teeth belong to the collective.
In theory, the government would take what the collective grew, and would also distribute food to each family. There was no incentive to work hard — to go out to the fields early, to put in extra effort, Yen Jingchang says.
“Work hard, don’t work hard — everyone gets the same,” he says. “So people don’t want to work.”
They defied the system and made a secret contract to practice capitalist principles. The result was fantastic. “At the end of the season, they had an enormous harvest: more, Yen Hongchang says, than in the previous five years combined.”
Their self-interested work was creating abundance and prosperity; The Communist Party took notice.
Click here to read the fascinating report.
I commented on a report that tribesmen in northern Mindanao are doing mystical rituals to “appease nature” and prevent rainstorms.
My comment: “It is better drainage systems, stronger structures, and effective communication, that the provinces need to better deal with rainstorms. These tribesmen should throw away their mystic beliefs, and instead embrace reason, science and capitalism.”
Besides my writing for TOS and other publications, I’ve been doing a lot of commenting lately on websites. I think more pro-freedom people should go out of their way—within the context of their life (time, priorities, etc)—to firmly and politely advocate for reason and capitalism.
“The right of “the self-determination of nations” applies only to free societies or to societies seeking to establish freedom; it does not apply to dictatorships. Just as an individual’s right of free action does not include the “right” to commit crimes (that is, to violate the rights of others), so the right of a nation to determine its own form of government does not include the right to establish a slave society (that is, to legalize the enslavement of some men by others). There is no such thing as “the right to enslave.” A nation can do it, just as a man can become a criminal—but neither can do it by right.
“It does not matter, in this context, whether a nation was enslaved by force, like Soviet Russia, or by vote, like Nazi Germany. Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual). Whether a slave society was conquered or chose to be enslaved, it can claim no national rights and no recognition of such “rights” by civilized countries—just as a mob of gangsters cannot demand a recognition of its “rights” and a legal equality with an industrial concern or a university, on the ground that the gangsters choseby unanimous vote to engage in that particular kind of group activity.
“Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.”
HT: The Ayn Rand Lexicon
In addition, and this bears an underscore:
“This right, however, is conditional. Just as the suppression of crimes does not give a policeman the right to engage in criminal activities, so the invasion and destruction of a dictratorship does not give the invader the right to establish another variant of a slave society in the conquered country.”
Merry Christmas, everyone!!! To this benevolent day and season, cheers!
First published in The Objective Standard Blog, December 10, 2011.
Novell inc. is suing Microsoft because Microsoft did not include Novell’s product, WordPerfect, in Windows 95. Bill Gates testifying in court said WordPerfect was a “bulky, slow, buggy product” that would “crash the system” and that Microsoft Word was “far superior.” These are certainly good reasons not to include a product in one’s innovative new program, but that’s beside the point.
A company should be free not to include or support a product for any reason or no reason at all, unless it has voluntarily entered into a contract that says otherwise. But Microsoft had no contractual obligation to include WordPerfect in its system. For Novell to sue Microsoft for not including its product is ridiculous on its face. But that such a suit can be filed at all in the U.S. legal system—forcing Microsoft to spend time and money defending itself in court—is worse than ridiculous; it is morally outrageous.
What makes such a suit possible? Antitrust law. Antitrust holds essentially that businessmen do not own their businesses and that they may not make even the most minute or mundane decisions, such as whether or not to include a competitor’s product in their own product. Antitrust effectively gives the government totalitarian power over every business, granting bureaucrats a blank check to harass them at whim.
Not only should Novell’s case against Microsoft be thrown out; the entire obscenity known as antitrust law should be repealed. This law is immoral and un-American.
This is an excellent LTE by David Holcberg.
“Oil companies have a right to their record profits.
The oil companies earned their profits honestly, and have a right to keep them. Their profits are a just reward for decades of investment and production.
If politicians are really concerned with the effect on the public of high oil and gas prices, they could do many things about it. They could cut gasoline taxes, eliminate regulations mandating gasoline blends, and free energy companies to drill at will. These measures would increase the supply of gasoline and reduce its cost–without violating the property rights of oil companies.
Oil companies, in pursuing their own profit, provide us with an invaluable product, without which our modern civilization would suffer immensely. We should be grateful for their good work, and our government should protect–not expropriate–their well-deserved profits.”
Copyright © by the Ayn Rand Institute. Reprinted with permission.