People often say that capitalists run on greed. Sure, there’s some who do, but overall I’d beg to differ.
So let’s suppose, that you love working with wood and you inherited a forest. If you love working with wood you know, that albeit not extremely scarce, wood is a temporally limited resource. If not anything else it needs a lot of time to grow and it needs certain conditions to grow well. And lets imagine that you love working with wood to that extent, that you can be hyper-productive when making products out of it. But, if you love working with wood, then you also want other people to love your product. This is how you serve people – by making products they want to buy from you and that they love using. Alas, you put your sweat and work into it. And let’s suppose that you just started realizing that things cost money. Crazy right, that nothing is free? You need to power your equipment, you need to either make or buy tools to work with wood, and that costs supplies, tools or if nothing else, it costs your time. I guess one can call it a voluntary temporary sacrifice of current wealth, when you invest your time, money, resources into something you love doing.
Even if you took a loan, you’re really sacrificing the future time, that you will have to repay somehow. So… you start seeing the bills and you do some math. You realize that you need to charge some money in order to merely brake even. But then a question pops up. “How am I going to pay for all of what I had invested into this woodworking operation, that I’m delving into… how am I going to get a return on my investment of time and resources? I need to take that into consideration when charging the money.” Slowly but surely, if you have to deal with money, you’ll want to be greedy at some point. “Will my costumers notice that I’m overcharging?” But then, if you’re prudent, you’ll ask yourself, what is the cost of not playing it fair? What if they find out? What then? And you realize, that the cost of being greedy will most likely make your products of lesser quality and you’ll start loving the money instead of the craft you once loved. You know, if you dive deep enough into yourself, that you’ll start despising woodcraft and every time you’ll have things break, you’ll be angry and resentful. All of that will be shown in the quality of your work as well as in your attitudes to other people, especially your costumers.
But what if you chose a different path. What if you charged a fair price and offered people perks if they chose to donate or invest into your company? What if you decided to rather love the craft than to love the money? It’s very likely, that if you aim at quality work, you’d have enough work. And when you have less time, that time becomes much more valuable.
And then you realize that you’re needed more than you can handle. Now there’s an opportunity here. You can do two things. You can either keep accepting every order, which will most definitely take most of your attention, and thus you’ll be overworked and you’ll as aforementioned start hating your craft. Or you can hire someone. This gives that person the benefit of having the work instantly, if they’re willing to learn of course and if they are willing to strive for delivering the best they can. They are the direct recipients of your reputation. This is how you serve that person – by paying them for the work they do and by giving them the work that you used to do, so that you can spend your time, money and wealth to do things that bring in even more quality so that that person you hired can grow and another will take his place one day.
What’s more, you can expand your business and you can devote your time for specialization. You can hire some people to run your forest (and thus serve them for their merit,… by repaying their service to you), you can buy better lumber, you can get the best tools you can. And that also makes other people who create well crafted tools better off. But you know, that you shouldn’t boast with your new acquisitions to everyone. Well… by this time you know, that you shouldn’t boast at all, lest you may find yourself in the pit of greed again. You know that you must flee greed.
Besides, if you’re not greedy, you can subcontract things that you’re not that good at to someone who might in every other way be your competitor. Instead of fighting them and trying to steal their costumers you try to make a deal, whereby you send him customers in his niche, and he sends you customers in your niche. But even if you don’t, you know you did the right thing by sticking to your quality and sending the customer to the guy who does his thing better than you do. By giving them your potential business you cease being greedy and you start to serve. If they start being greedy you may freely chose to serve someone else by sending customers to that third person instead to the greedy one. Alas, you don’t want to lose the reputation you gained because of the foolishness of other people.
Yes. When you see greedy people doing things their way you try to make your things even better. You’ll stay reputable and even more transparent, because you realize that this is the best way you can stay in business for they might stay greedy on the market for some time, but not for long. They might destroy some smaller businesses without the spine in the process, but they can’t destroy you. Even if you have to scale down, you’ll still deliver. You’ll do what’s right. You’ll invest into newer and better technologies. And you’ll patiently wait. Some businesses will fail. Their greed and lack of quality will take them down. But you will prevail with your business. If you were prudent, and you saved money, you can now revive your company to a greater position than it was when the greedy people came along.
You’ll buy those companies and you’ll restructure them to work better and more efficiently. And since you know that greed’s not going to do you well, you’ll try to not fire everybody. Unfortunately you realize that the greed of your former competitors caused them to hire mostly people who only wanted the money and a safe job… in some way you could say that the workers were not productive and greedy as well. So you fire them. Sure there might be some backlash, but you assure people, that if they want to serve others by making the best wood-crafted products they can for the price, they are free to come back.
Then something terrible happens. All of those greedy people band together and convince a lot of other people, some of which used to be your faithful customers, that you’re an evil greedy Capitalist rat who needs to be exterminated, taxed, and destroyed. They say that their proof of that is all the layoffs you had made on the ruins of old companies from quite possibly those very same greedy people. They also try to prove their point by showing the large business network (of formerly mutual service on your part) and a huge business conglomerate you had built over the years. They point at the finest furniture and other wood-crafted masterpieces in expensive buildings of wealthy people. They say: “Look at his greed. Look at all the wealth he absorbed and at all the lavish wealthy people whom he made things for.” They start destroying your business network by sending people to those companies you work with to speak lies to them. To make them believe that you’re really very evil and greedy. And you know you’re really not. You’re thankful for all that you have created, but you know full well, that that’s the result of your good work and people buying your products. Your passion is woodcraft and excellence, not greed.
What’s worse, those greedy people who banded together, devised an evil plan. Obviously they have too much time. They will appeal to the local ruler for him to create an elaborate set of rules, regulations and redistributive systems. They essentially create a State with a lot of powers that nobody ever had before. They devise an ingenious scheme, whereby the plots of greed around those who are doing business are always in the papers, indoctrination about that is in schools, whom they have legislative power of, and in order for their “service” to the State they ask to be paid — and be paid well. In return they will make it so that those who are employed in that State will be able to slowly but surely gain more and more control on the people and they will stay on top of that dominance hierarchy by making the rules of the game the way they want it.
You now have a choice to stay and continue to serve or leave. Except if those greedy bastards on the State level made it so, that it’s impossible or very difficult to leave. So let’s say you stay. You wish you could expand and continue serving but you can’t. You have to hire lawyers, accountants, and other previously unnecessary administrative jobs (and you can’t say no, because that’s the law those greedy idiots had made). While you may still have work from some wealthy clients due to your stature and the quality of your work, you financially can’t make it work with the workers who have little to no skills. So you have to let them go.
Unfortunately things go even more downhill. The Greedy State and it’s agents learn about that. The media learns about that. Some perhaps with genuine worry for those people, but others only with anger towards your company, who laid them off. So the Legislative body makes more regulations and laws, which prevent you firing people “just like that”. How can you serve those who want to pay you for your service, if you’re not allowed to have the freedom to do it in your way and to do it the best way you know how to do it? More money is spent on paperwork and you have to start investing into even more machinery, because you need to offset the costs… This unfortunately for people means that you will have to fire more in the future, but the State has left you with little other choices. None really.
Furthermore, the media tell the story of your greed, where you know full well, and your family and friends, that all you ever wanted to do was to serve your fellow men and do woodcraft. All the media and (greedy) politicians see is the outcome, but whether they know or not, that it’s their regulation and lawmaking and greediness, which had caused the sets of events, that doesn’t matter. As long as the State can pretend to serve some by depriving the productive of their wealth to spend it lavishly on themselves and on those who support their greed.
One day the State also finds out, that if they can make people dependent on their checks, that the people will do all in their power not to lose those benefits. That’s how the “social State” is born. This causes more people, who might otherwise look to be productive, (which means a need to serve someone) to stay dependent and greedy of other people’s money. “Who’s money?” you’ll ask when you see that on TV… Don’t fear, it’s your money. They’ll tax you to death. They’ll regulate you to death. The only thing that is making it difficult to do it fully is other States who might be freer.
And that’s how you’ll finish. You might die knowing you did the right thing. The rest may never know that. But you and God do. You gave the best you could in the given situation… in your life. You tried to be responsible. You may have failed sometimes, but you rose up. You just wish the State didn’t come along and make those greedy idiots gods of the land. But then again you don’t worry too much about that anymore. You just hope you picked the right heir to the company… if it survives. Which you hope it will. But it will probably never be as high as it was when there was more freedom, when you could actually serve well and serve freely and reward merits the way you wanted.
And so we come to an end.
Free markets, trading, economy, capitalism… those things are not made to cater the greedy, the lazy and the evil ones. They are, in my estimate, made to make people be useful and to serve.
Greed gives you sorrow and spite. Service gives you purpose and joy. What will you chose? How will you serve?