But there is another problem which seems to be less highly recognized, namely that the whole concept of the Invisible Hand itself is bull$#^&. As an example, I’m writing this a few minutes after reading about the death of Norman Borlaug. He was a Nobel Laureate who developed disease-resistant and fast growing crops. Depending on who you ask, his work saved the lives of somewhere between a quarter of a billion and a billion people. So far. If we don’t all die in some sort of cataclysm in the next fifteen minutes, that number will only grow.
Now consider another person recently deceased – Michael Jackson. I believe Jackson was finally buried some time last week. Aside from being known the world over, Jackson was very wealthy, despite his clear incompetence with money. He probably made at least one dollar for every life saved by Norman Borlaug, so far. Norman Borlaug, on the other hand, to the best of my knowledge, did not. Furthermore, this discrepancy in income is very, very, very hard to attribute to government interference.
Which means, there are two possible alternatives:
1. Michael Jackson did more positive things for the world than Norman Borlaug.
2. Michael Jackson did less positive things for the world than Norman Borlaug.
There is no third option. None. Now, I think very, very few people, even die-hard Michael Jackson fans, when presented with numbers like “a quarter of a billion lives saved so far” would agree with option 1. Which leaves option 2. And if option 2, then the Invisible Hand is bull$#^&. Which means capitalism doesn’t work or is immoral. That does not imply any other philosophical system would work better, mind you, but trusting the market to do its thing provides perverse results.
I’m cleaning house. I wanted to post this last year but forgot about it.
After their deaths, there was the usual pontification about what they could have done differently. Despite the fact that they were all experienced climbers, and despite leaving for the hike when weather conditions were good, some people blamed their “risky behavior” and suggested various reforms that wouldn’t have made any difference in their case.
While I was away for my end-of-year vacation, I scanned through the comments on our newspaper’s website. “I don’t want to say they deserved to die,” one person said, before going on to explain why they deserved to die for pursuing their passion.
Fatal accidents are sad. I wish they wouldn’t happen, and I wish we could bring back the lost hikers. But I also don’t think they should have stayed home, and I don’t think they are that different from the 21,833 others who died earlier this year.
I propose that the greater risk is to play it safe all the time. Properly experienced, life is a very risky behavior.
The most shocking part of this video is that the dead girl’s doctor didn’t believe much in vaccinations and in fact encouraged her parents not to vaccinate. My recommendation: Sue the doctor for malpractice. Given that I’m one of the “tribe” and have just as intense a loathing for malpractice attorneys and malpractice suits as any other physician, you can be sure that if I say that about another doctor I really mean it and really consider the offense to be egregious. Any pediatrician who discourages recommended vaccines is very likely committing malpractice. In this case, a girl died as a result; so there is demonstrable injury as a result of this physician’s negligence. Sue his ass. Maybe if more parents started doing this when their children suffer or die from vaccine-preventable illness because their doctors discouraged vaccination fewer doctors would be so cavalier about such advice not to vaccinate.
The Good Fight
Published on January 3, 2010 in News. 92 Comments
In 1986, I went for the first and only time on the pilgrimage known as the Way to Santiago, an experience I described in my first book. We had just finished walking up a small hill, a village appeared on the horizon, and it was then that my guide, whom I shall call Petrus (although that was not his name), said to me:
- We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body. Many times in our lives we see our dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming. If we don’t, our soul dies
‘The Good Fight is the one we Fight because our heart asks it of us.The Good Fight is the one that’s fought in the name of our dreams. When we are young our dreams first explode inside us with all of their force, we are very courageous, but we haven’t yet learned how to Fight. With great effort, we learn how to Fight, but by then we no longer have the courage to go into combat. So we turn against ourselves and do battle within. We become our own worst enemy. We say that our dreams were childish, or too difficult to realize, or the result or our not having known enough about life. We kill our dreams because we are afraid to Fight the Good Fight.
“The first symptom of the process of killing our dreams is lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The Truth is, they are afraid to Fight the Good Fight
“The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don’t want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what’s important is only that they are Fighting the Good Fight.
“And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams-we have refused to Fight the Good Fight.
“When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves.
“What we sought to avoid in combat-disappointment and defeat-came upon us because of our cowardice. And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breath, and we actually seek death. It’s death that frees us from out certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of Sunday afternoons.”
in “The Pilgrimage”(1987)
I’ll keep on posting this til I’m in the think of The Good Fight!