Duly Noted – Wealth, Poverty and Ignorance.

Favored myths and popular lies.

There are developments that do not fit your anticipations if you are socialized by Western values. Reality and our cultural assumptions can clash. Several postulates that are said to be mankind’s goals only express local cultural preferences. Their summary would be a sentence about “liberty”, the “pursuit of happiness” and “self-evident”.

True, the order that produced these concepts has been sufficiently successful to justify emulation. However, it does not follow that the way of the achievers is predestined to become a guideline for all of mankind. We may add that, the worldwide differences in wealth and rights reflect this. The rejection of the values that advanced societies hold to be universal explains global differences in achievement. The attitude expressed through this rebuff reveals why much of mankind remains unfree, badly governed, and poor.

The inequality that is a result as well as the cause of this condition proves to be resistant. Blaming “unequal distribution” is only a superficial explanation. The well sounding phrase is more a symptom of past and future failures than a revelation of causes. The term “distribution” brings to mind a traditional remedy of the Left. It has healed little but developed a tradition of failure that is enshrined as a sign of moral superiority. That the misled masses that are the victims of the credo fail to see through the slogan does not invalidate the judgment.

Redistribution does not overcome the condition of those that missed modernization. In fact, the underachieving tend to misunderstand the roots of poverty and wealth. Also, they like to believe that success is a reflection of luck or of theft by the powerful. The equation of power and wealth explains why popular movements arise to replace a bad dictatorship with a good one – one that will be generous to its subjects. Being in the dark regarding wealth’s origins causes a misunderstanding. That concerns the implications of receiving aid in response to penury that is supplied involuntarily by those that are said not to need what they contribute. The beneficiaries overlook that the precondition – a shakedown of the better off – demotivates unwilling donors. Ultimately, the results will shrink the cake out of which the handouts come. With the resulting downward trending equality, sapping motivation to produce will diminish what politics can give away.

Neither nature, nor luck creates whatever is rated as “wealth”. Wealth is the product of attitudes and their application to potentialities. We all compete, and we compete with our cultures. This explains why richly endowed countries are poor and why countries that are by nature poor can be rich. Those who, in the service of distorting ideologies hide this do a disservice to mankind. Their approach creates firewood for envy-fed conflicts and prevents accomplishments by dismissing success strategies.

The foes of the successful society have repeatedly relied on theories to draw attention away from the cause of underdevelopment, servitude and poverty. In the West, a rationalization stressed the role of the Jews. Easily done: Inherited Christian prejudices confirm a contemporary economic-social thesis. Even if the early lenders that demanded repayments at the arrival of the money economy were Germans (the Fuggers) or Italians, usury stuck on the Jews. A special intermezzo is that of the Templars. That monastic order made money from the Crusades and the international trade that accompanied travel. Europe’s cash crunched monarchs that were the order’s bankrupt debtors physically liquidated the Templars. Marxism replaced the “Jews” with the “Capitalists” and persecuted “class aliens”. That Idi Amin Dada had transplanted into Africa the tale of the Pakistani bloodsucker tells that the category of the “enemy” is a flexible one. Some present-day elites exploit tales about “the Americans”.

The theme here, the ignorance about the causes of poverty and the strategies to escape it – as have recently hundreds of millions – has a personal aspect. It makes the writer to want to “spit it out” to guide the reader to insights on an additional level.

My grandfather had purchased after WWI some land and a manor in Hungary. He had a doctorate in economics and expert knowledge of agriculture. In a country dominated by large, badly managed latifundia, from his small base he created the income of the landed rich. That he achieved by producing for the market – not by ignoring it as did the absentee owners of the neighboring estates. Irritatingly for these, he even paid his workers above the going rate. Furthermore, he was, as an old worker put it decades later, “his own best hired hand”. The locals could not understand grandfather’s agribusiness and the natural origins of his success. In a typical reaction, the native found a logical, explanation. It was that there is a gold mine under the “Black Castle”.

This specific idiocy establishes a globally valid connection between poverty, ignorance and backwardness. Up until the 1944 German occupation and government by local national socialists, such gibberish did not matter. At the same time, American air fleets began to overfly us at 9:30 a.m. from Bari, Italy, to bomb the Reich. The daily routine and the reason why “they” found their way demanded an explanation. Well, since Eugene Marich already had a goldmine, it was logical that he must be directing the Liberators with a flashlight to their destination. These rumors activated in the Nazis their “national” as well as their “socialist” identities. Raids and searches followed. You might feel relieved that the gold mine was not found. Even so, the story ends in a tragedy. Days before the end, the Gestapo took my grandparents. The officer in charge explained that before he liquidates, he must settle the case created by numerous denunciations. The most pleasing alternative offered was that the file could be closed if my grandfather would commit suicide. He took the offer.

As one ponders the future of the global balance between poverty and wealth, it seems that the real enemy is not the existing penury. Explanations abound why societies remain mired in traditional misery. Ignorance regarding the origin of both conditions is a culprit. This has a logical cause. Superficially, the conspiracy oriented explanation of the origins of misery and well-being is more convincing than is the complex reality. If you do not know much, a “flat earth” sounds more convincing than the story about a rotating ball. Furthermore, poverty has its professional beneficiaries. This element has an interest to miseducate. The resulting false consciousness can be exploited to mobilizing the political support of the grateful victims

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