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Monday, October 03, 2016


Predator, Prey, or Scavenger?

How do we choose to view our individual existence? Are we a creature within the natural world? If so, are we a predator, are we prey, or are we a scavenger who joins the feast without participating in the hunt?

The predator is on the prowl, stalking and attacking its prey, enjoying the fruits of the harvest, resting, and repeating the cycle, periodically interrupting the pattern to reproduce.

Conversely, the prey is on the alert, sensing danger, fleeing when attacked and subsequently recovering, while seeking the safest places to feed and to periodically reproduce.

Scavengers are the pragmatic bystanders that muster the courage and/or patience to join in the feast of the predator. Reproduction is possible only after courage and patience are tapped to allow survival.

In the natural world, prey must perish in order for both predator and scavenger to survive. Occasionally scavengers (when they get too “comfortable” or become sick or old) and predators (when they become sick or old) also end up becoming prey.


Natural Man or Spiritual Man?

Most people believe we are a part of the natural world, products of natural selection. Choices are mostly self-serving, seeking to emotionally and materially benefit the individual, the tribe, and the species. Over time, lessons are learned and, as they are passed down from one generation to the next, the species improves in its ability to survive and ultimately thrive.

Many people also believe we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. Choices are less often self-serving, at times even selfless, seeking to morally and ethically improve the worthiness of the individual, the tribe, and the species.

Some people take the belief in something bigger than themselves to a level that is hard for many, perhaps most, to understand. A recent example is the “grace” exhibited by survivors of a bible group toward a man who had walked into their bible study class, participated for a while, and them killed several of the members. Grace, the unmerited favor of forgiveness, as exemplified by Christ's death on the cross, can be a powerful catalyst for healing.

We all make choices during our lives that are selfish, selfless, or somewhere in between. Some are blessed to occasionally exhibit the grace that elevates Natural Man to Spiritual Man.


Capitalist or Socialist?

The capitalist seeks individual opportunity to take calculated risks in expectation of rewards that are often proportional to such risks. Work and courage are required but intellect and skill ease the load.

The socialist seeks safety, security, comfort and above all, equality, in place of the risks that accompany individual opportunity.

Just as the scavenger enjoys the fruits of the predator without participating in the hunt, the socialist feels entitled to a portion of the rewards of participation in the marketplace that the capitalist has secured.


How Are These Narratives Connected?

Early mankind likely survived on the bone marrow left behind by more prolific predators. This ability to embrace opportunity eventually elevated mankind in comparison to the rest of the natural world.

Mankind's ability to forgive and otherwise exhibit empathy for others, the grace that comes from a deeper understanding of life's meaning, resulted in abandonment of purely natural instincts in favor of the emotional control we call “civilization” or “society”. All that remained was for a viable system of governance to evolve.

Socialism, the centrally planned totalitarian system of governance intended to promote economic “equality” for all, was successful over time for small homogeneous groups of people. An elite leader or small group of elites with leadership qualities earn special favor as long as the group feels they are well served by such leadership. Unfortunately, as the group becomes larger, it's allegiance to the elites becomes more and more difficult to retain. This is because the larger the group becomes, the increased diversity of its members eventually results in one or more members recognizing legitimate “opportunity” to seek the special favors previously enjoyed only by the elites. As the elites grow their ranks in order to retain power, the percentage of productive labor and services is diminished. So the final result of such a system historically has been “no bread on the shelves” or “the equality that is poverty itself”.

Once mankind realized that governance could be undertaken independent of society (and particularly economics), capitalism was born. The willingness of society to take economic risks in order to reap rewards, while maintaining the security offered by government, became a magical combination. But only as long as government efforts toward security were kept separate from society's efforts to take advantage of opportunity through experimentation and innovation.


Nordic Socialism

As we have seen in the Nordic countries in the last decade or so, too much government reduces society's ability to optimize overall societal productivity, At a time when many well-meaning but ignorant American politicians are proposing more American government programs, the Nordics have spent the last decade pulling back from large government programs that had reduced their productivity to two-thirds that of their Nordic American cousins.

Should the reader have any misgivings about the truth within the above paragraph, may I offer proof positive in the form of a new book. “Debunking Utopia...Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism” by Nima Sanandaji. The last three sentences of Sanandaji's book summarize the intense examination contained within it: “A system that over time encourages work, responsibility and strong families endures and grows stronger. A system that encourages individuals and families to instead rely on the state falters. In this regard, the Nordic nations are anything but exceptional.”

So next time a socialist utopian brags to you about Nordic socialism, just hand them a paperback copy of Sanandji's book. Arguing with them would be a huge waste of your time.


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