The office is almost done. The bedroom is half unpacked. We have a fridge, but I need to go and remove all the protective plastic from everywhere. Village Inn will be disappointed. They quite counted us as breakfast regulars by now. (I don’t have milk for my coffee and if I drink it black, the acid tears up my stomach.)
The cats are still locked up. Will be dealing with them momentarily, after I set up the boxes. Havelock is sure there’s been some terrible mistake and keeps trying to explain. Greebo is sure he’s displeased the most high (me) and has stopped eating.
We still don’t know where younger son is going to live. He doesn’t like the longer drive. I don’t like (or think we can afford) his living alone. We’re… negotiating. Given that this is the kid who takes after me from the top of his little horns to the bottoms of his little woofkins that he don’t got, our negotiations are somewhat like the old talks between the US and the USSR when tensions were running high and both sides playing hardball.
The arms are better. You could now mistake the eczema for a bad sunburn. I need to go get the meds that should be in the supermarket pharmacy.
It’s a friend’s birthday and we have to figure out how to take him out to dinner, one of those tradition things.
I found my speakers, now if I find the old ones I can give them to younger son. I found my manuscripts to edit. If I hustle today, tomorrow I should be able to keep normal working hours.
Reminding me that (to paraphrase Heinlein) Denver though metropolis is still a western town, its cowboy boots polished but still there under the glitz, the table next to ours at breakfast was taken up with cattle ranchers, talking acreages and breeds. Perhaps it’s stock show week. I haven’t looked lately, as I was only aware of when it was when it interfered with our ability to get a place to stay for the weekend.
It’s kind of interesting. As science fiction authors we tend to try to create “coherent” societies, all at the same level of development. Real life isn’t like that. In real life, you have cattle ranchers and computer programmers all crammed in to the same place, to grab a quick breakfast on the way to their own pursuits.
And since I’ve entered the realm of random musings, I’m listening to one of those audio books that are 90% conspiracy theory. (Why, you ask? Well, because it was cheap and is tangentially related to a project I’m working on as soon as DR is in.) I love the way the reader of the book (which is about secret histories) reads the book with a hint of malice and madness that makes me think of spit flecked microphones. One of the things hilarious about it, is that he seems to be confused about where the right and left stand on things. For instance, he thinks those who oppose the idea that other people might have lived in the territory of the US before the Amerindians are “the right wing imperialists,” instead of tribes bent on their theories of creation being respected by everyone else. He’s also the worst kind of equivalence seeking multi-culturalist, and thinks the myth of the Noble Savage is “Right wing.”
In the middle of his rather mad rambles he goes on about how capitalism is incompatible with democratic notions of equality. I have absolutely no clue what system he thinks would be compatible with such. Communism? What about the planners and komissars, comrade?
I find capitalism, in dignity, very compatible with equality. Take the men who delivered our fridge this morning. I didn’t consider them — nor would it occur to me to consider them — my inferiors. Surely, I wouldn’t ask one of them to help me with the novel, but truth be told, I’d die if I were asked to carry a refrigerator. And society would come to a half without people like them faster than without people like me. OTOH without people like me, a society of people like them might (note I said MIGHT) well stagnate and never be capable of adapting. Without people like my husband and sons, more than likely, it would come to a grinding halt and technology would deteriorate and back slide.
Specialization is not inequality. Specialization is freedom of choice.
Sure, sure, I agree with Heinlein that specialization is for insects, but that’s in another sense. I believe in developing my capabilities in areas other than writing and skull sweat. I know how to build furniture and could do a decent job from found materials, even if the result would be rather like that crate-furniture that used to be popular in the eighties with families with small kids. I can dig a furrow (by hand) and I’m passably good at growing potatoes (everything else tends to fall victim to the brown thumb.) If pushed I could wash clothes by hand. I can throw a lopsided pot, and can probably fire it unevenly in a kiln of my own devising. More to the point, I can sew and knit (badly) and crochet, passably. In what’s more likely to be needed in our society, I can take raw materials and with a day’s work transform it into a feast for 100 for minimal investment and in such a way they’ll never know it wasn’t catered. (More than 100. I have run hospitality suites. At a profit.)
That type of specialization is for insects, and human beings, though better at one thing, should know how to turn their hands to other things, in a pinch.
BUT society rewards being really uncommonly good at ONE thing. That’s the virtue of capitalism. Sure, I can build my own furniture. Or I can write a novel and buy it. And if I work more at writing novels, I become better at that and can help support more furniture makers (instead of refinishing antiques, which is what I do right now.)
All of which brings us to capitalism and equality. The men who delivered the fridge are free to choose to do so, or to go to school and learn to be plumbers, or to stay home and turn their hands to writing novels. It is no part of my concern which they do. Well, if they write novels about fridge deliverers who solve mysteries, that’d be fun. Not fun enough to force them to do it, though.
In the long run, given who they are and what they want out of life (me, to husband yesterday “You realize we’d need a much smaller house if all we did after work was chill out and watch TV, instead of your doing the writing and the music, and my doing the art thing, and…”) what they want to do, what makes them happy (that pursuit of happiness thing) they are free to find the occupation and entertainment that suits THEIR needs. I don’t care.
In a communitarian system, though, be it a small seemingly idyllic tribe community or a large immiserated country. (Or a small immiserated island country, for that matter) what other people’s occupation and their use of their time and resources is of vital interest to me. If they don’t do their part in the plan, then everything falls apart. Heck, even if they do their part in the plan, depending on how many thumbs the planner had when he threw the societal “pot” together.
In a communitarian system, so long as humans are humans and not hive creatures, there HAVE to be planners making sure someone is delivering the fridges and someone is writing the novels. And because these have to be assigned according to the needs of the community, the individual suitability and preference don’t matter.
Which explains why those large, small and tribal communities tend to live on dirt and bugs.
I never understood the appeal of “equality” since I’m an odd, and I’m never going to be equal to much of anything or anyone. And I don’t think equality should be the goal of any society. Decent living standards and something approaching the ability to choose, and respect or at least non-interference with what other people choose to do that doesn’t hurt you, should.
Capitalism — understood as free trade — is liberty. Communism is for insects.